ENGINEERING PROBLEMS

Every one is interested in the problems that confront the civil engineer, and no one problem is more interesting than that of highway or road construction. When a railroad company has decided to construct road from one point to another, a competent engineer goes over the country and makes what is called a reconnaissance survey of the locality. After this has been done parties are placed in the field to survey or lay out upon the ground the best line upon which to construct the railroad.

Naturally the best line is that which is the least expensive in construction and the least expensive to maintain. The problem of the engineer, therefore, is to find the best route at the least expense to his employers. The best route is that which when constructed is the most direct and most nearly level in grade. A railroad built in a perfectly straight line and on a perfectly level grade would be an ideal road from the standpoint of the company operating it. In order to construct a road which will approach this ideal as nearly as possible, the engineer has to take levels all along the line of the proposed road, and prepare a profile map, one which shows exactly all the topography,—the valleys and mountains which he proposes to cross. After completing this profile, he studies out how much he can afford to fill up the valleys and cut down the mountains, in order to approach as nearly as possible to a perfectly straight and level line,—a task which calls for frequent reference to his text-book. He is also governed in this work by the amount of funds at his disposal, for one can readily see that a perfectly straight and level road could be constructed anywhere, if the funds were unlimited.

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