Earth Road | Types of Earth Road | Construction of Earth Road | Advantages & Disadvantages

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  1. Introduction  

The type of low-cost road in which pavement structure is constructed with the soil available at the site is called earth road.

It is also known as the earthen road.

It is the cheapest type of road.

It is best to construct when the budget or fund is limited.

This type of road is generally found in rural and village areas.

Earth road can be improved further in the future according to the needs.


  2. Types of Earth Road  

There are two types of earth road. They are:

1. Ordinary Earth Road

2. Stabilized Earth Road


  a. Ordinary Earth Road  

The earth road whose foundation and the wearing surface are made up of one or two compacted layers of natural soil along its alignment is an ordinary earth road.

It is the first stage of road construction.


a. It requires frequent maintenance. Mainly in the rainy season.

b. It is dusty and ruts are formed quickly.

c. It is not suitable for very heavy vehicles movement.

d. It is very economical to construct.


  b. Stabilized Earth Road  

The road whose foundation and the wearing surface are made up of one or two compacted layers of stabilized soil is called stabilized earth road.

Stabilized earth road is capable of withstanding high load and traffic as compared to ordinary.

It is more durable than ordinary earth roads.


a. It doesn’t require frequent maintenance like ordinary earth roads.

b. Initial construction cost is more as compared to the ordinary road.


Read More: Surveyor Compass


  3. Selection of Material for Construction  

The soil used in the construction should contain the following:

S.N.Base CourseWearing Course
1Clay Content<5%10 to 18%
2Silt Content9 to 32 %5 to 15%
3Sand Content60 to 80 %65 to 80 %
4Liquid Limit< 35 %< 35 %
5Plasticity Index< 6 %4 to 10 %


1. Clay Content 

a. Clay should not be more than 5 % in the soil if it has to be used in the base course. Excessive clay leads to deformation and settlement of road foundation.

b. Soil should contain 10 to 18 % clay if it has to be used in surface course.


2. Silt Content

a. Minimum of 9 % and a maximum of 32 % silt in the soil is best for base course.

b. The soil used in the wearing course should contain a minimum of 5 % silt. More than 15% of silt is not suitable in any case.


3. Sand Content

a. About 60 to 80 % of sand in the soil is best for the base course. Sand transfers the load by granular action. So, it is an essential component of soil used in the earth road.

b. 65 to 80% of sand in the soil is best to use in wearing course.


4. Liquid Limit

The liquid limit of soil used in both base and wearing course should not be more than 35%.


5. Plasticity Index

a. The soil used in the base course should have plasticity of less than 6 %.

b. Soil having plasticity of 4 to 6% is suitable for the wearing course.


  4. Earth Road Construction Procedure  

Construction of earth road includes the following procedures:


  a. Soil Survey  

A soil survey is done to ensure the suitability of soil available at the site. It is done by visiting the site and determining the liquid limit and plasticity index.

Clay content, silt content, and sand content are also analyzed.

Soil survey is done to locate the suitable borrow pits at the adjacent land that are easy to reach and at an economical haulage distance.


  b. Fixing road alignment  

The centerline and boundaries of the road are marked by driving the wooden pegs into the ground.

Pegs are also driven for the reference of the vertical profile of the road.


  c. Material Preparation  

Before excavation; organic materials like trees, shrubs, and grasses are removed from the site.


  d. Preparation of Subgrade  

The steps in the preparation of subgrade are:

i. Clearing Site

The site can be cleared manually using tools like spade, pick, etc, or by using machines like Bulldozer and scraper.

ii. Cutting and Filling of soil

Cutting and filling are done using excavators.
( Cutting: Removal of excessive soil
   Filling; Addition of soil )

iii. Shaping of subgrade

The subgrade can be shaped by compacting with hand rollers, road rollers, or dozers. Proper provision of slope gradient to the road should be ensured for the drainage facility.


  e. Spraying of Water  

Water is spread above the subgrade so that it binds the soil added to it.

If the moisture content in the soil and subgrade is sufficient then there is no need for the provision of water.


  f. Addition of Layers  

At first, one layer of soil is added to the subgrade.

The thickness of the layer should not be more than 12 cm.

After the addition of the layer, it is compacted using the roller.

If there is needed for another layer then the second layer is provided over first in the same way.

Mostly, two layers are provided on earth roads.


  g. Opening to Traffic  

The compacted earth road is allowed to dry for 1 to 3 days before opening to traffic.


  5. Precautions to be Taken During Construction  

a. The camber should be very steep. This reduces the contact time of water with the road which increases durability. Generally, the slope between 1 in 20 to 1 in 33 is suitable.

b. The height of the embankment should be above 600 mm.


  6. Advantages of Earth Road  

Some of the advantages of earth road are given below.

a. It is economical to construct.

b. It can be constructed in very little time.

c. Local people and materials can be utilized in the construction of this road.

d. It can be easily improved further in the future according to requirements.


  7. Disadvantages of Earth Road  

Some of the disadvantages of earth road are given below.

a. It is not suitable for heavy traffic and vehicles.

b. It is less durable and requires frequent maintenance.

c. Ruts and wears are quickly formed.

d. Not workable during monsoon season.

e. It is dusty. ( Mixing of soil particles in surrounding air and making smoke like the environment of dust.)


Read More: WBM Road



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