How the Highway Projects are Planned, Designed and Constructed?
And, Role of a Design consultant in different project stages?

From this article we will be able to get basic understanding about the highway projects, professionals involved (Client, Consultant, and Contractor), step by step road development process, highway design consultancy firm, roles and responsibilities of highway engineer, software used in the highway design.

Professionals involved in Highway Projects:

(From releasing a Project under any scheme to till end of construction of Project road)

Highway Development Process:

  • Client targets to provide facility for some road length of highway under any road development scheme.
  • They will divide the targeted length into packages for easy management of project in different stages.

Steps involved in Road Development Process:

  • Step-1: Selection Process for Consultant by Client
  • Step-2: Preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR)
  • Step-3: Pre bids & Construction work awards to Contractor
  • Step-4: Detailed Engineering Design for Execution Work

Step-1: Selection Process for Consultant by Client

  1. Notice for inviting EOI (Expression of Interest)
  2. Short Listing – Filters some best design consultants among applied consultants
  3. Invitation for Request for Proposal (RfP) – RfP consists of formats & explains how to submit proposals
  4. Technical & Financial evaluation of proposals received from consultants
  5. Negotiation between client and consultants
  6. Award of Project to consultants

By end of Step-1, client will award packages to the consultants by considering qualifications & work experience, financial status, credentials of personnel in the consultant company.

Step-2: Preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR)

  • As a part of Request for Proposal (RfP), client will provide Terms of Reference (ToR).
  • ToR clearly explains and guides consultant about requirement of the client. (From here onwards actual consultancy work will start.)
  • Quality Assurance Plan: Describes detailed working approach & methodology for surveys & investigations (road inventory & condition, structure inventory & condition, traffic, material, geotechnical surveys), designs such as highway, pavement, and structure, Financial & Economical Analysis, Environment and Social Impact Assessment etc.,
  • Inception Report – Site Appreciation (descries about project road by the experts and their teams), Manning Schedule
  • Alignment Report – Alignment Option studies (Bypasses, Realignments) and Best alignment proposal in terms of cost, length, connectivity etc.,
  • Feasibility Report – Main Report, Drawings (Highway & Structures), Cost Estimates, Supporting Documents. Explains feasibility of the project. If project is not feasible, terminates.
  • Detailed Project Report – Main Report, Drawings (Highway & Structures), Cost Estimates, Supporting Documents
  • Technical Sanction Documents – Highway and Structure Drawings, Cost Estimate, Technical Schedules, Concession Agreement, Request for Proposal for Contractor
  • Land Acquisition & Clearance Reports (Tree cutting, Utility shifting etc.,)

By end of Step-2, client will be able to upload tender documents & inviting contractors for bidding in their respective websites to initiate tendering process.

Step-3: Pre bids & Construction work awards to Contractor

  • Contractor will go through projects uploaded for bidding in client websites (NHAI/ MoRTH/ PWD).
  • If contractor interested to bid any project, he appoints technical staff of his own company or consultant
  • The team will carry out study the technical sanction documents for bidding the project.
  • Studies Technical Sanctioned documents:  Drawings (Highway & Structure), Reports, Technical Schedules
  • Site visit: After understanding all received tender documents, team will make site visit. During site visit checks existing road, pavement & structure condition and compares existing details with proposed details (feasibility of proposals), proposed pavement crust details, borrow areas, soil type etc.,
  • Estimation of Quantities: Based on available drawings and site understanding work out quantities
  • Project cost for Bidding: By considering all quantities, rates, percentage of profit etc., will arrive to a project cost for bidding
  • Interested contractors will bid to the project, based on estimated cost & keeping in view of experience on dealing with construction work, profit/loss risk
  • Client will evaluate bids received from contractors and awards work to one of the contractor based on qualifying criteria

Step-4: Detailed Engineering for Execution Work

  • After contractor got project for execution, he will engage in house design team or hire a design consultant for detailed design engineering services.
  • Studies Technical Sanctioned documents: Drawings (Highway & Structure), Reports, Technical Schedules.
  • Site visit: Based on understanding of Drawings, Reports & Proposals etc., Highway, Pavement and Structure design teams will make site visit for clear understanding of proposals.
  • Detailed Surveys & Investigations: Topo Survey, Material Surveys & Investigations, Geotechnical Surveys & Investigations, Tree enumeration surveys etc., will be carried out as a part of Detailed Design.
  • Detailed Design & Drawings: Highway & Structure designer will design and produce Good for Construction (GFC) drawings. After approval from client, independent engineer or Supervision consultant, Contractor will start working in site with approved construction drawings.
  • If in case any problem found at the time of execution, design and drawings will be revised according to Site constraint and completes road construction work.

The highway is Open to Traffic

Highway Design Consultant Firm:

  • Role:
    • Providing Technical support to Client and Contractor based on project stage.
  • Project Stage?
    • Detailed Project Report, Pre-bid Services & Detailed Engineering Services
  • Teams in Consultancy?
    • Highway
    • Traffic & Safety
    • Pavement & Materials
    • Hydrology
    • Structures
    • Geotechnical
    • Estimation & Costing
    • Environment & Social

Roles & Responsibilities of Highway Engineer in consultancy:

  • Co-ordinating & Managing project at every stage (Detailed Project Report (DPR), Detailed Design (DD) projects)
  • Designing Alignment options (Bypasses & Realignments)
  • Design of Highway, Drain, Junction
  • Preparing Drawings (Typical Cross Sections, Plan & Profiles (Road, Drain & Junctions), Signage plan & Miscellaneous Drawings etc.,)
  • Preparing Reports, Technical Sanction documents – Schedules

Software used for Project co-ordination, Preparing Design and Drawings:

  • Google Earth, My Maps – For locating Project road and identifying our location during site visit
  • MX Road, Civil 3D, Open Roads Designer– For Highway, Drain, Junction Designs
  • AutoCAD – For preparation of Drawings


NPTEL Course: Introduction to Transportation Engineering
Lecture1: Transportation engineering & Road Development Process
YouTube Link:

Reference documents:


02_Technical Schedules A-D
Go through these documents for more information.

Author Credit: Preetham C | Pursuing M.Tech in Transportation Engineering (2021-23) from National Institute of Technology (NIT), Silchar. Experienced in Highway and Drainage Designs for 5 Years from 2016 to 2021.

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