as part of the development of the highway optimization program system, a method has been produced for the automatic design of the vertical alignment of a highway, and a computer program (venus) has been written to implement this. the method smooths the ground along the centre line of the road to produce a longitudinal profile similar to the required vertical alignment, and then fits the profile with tangent lines and parabolic curves. the alignment is then modified to obey geometric design standards and constraints on level by adjusting the position of the curves. when all the constraints are obeyed, the alignment is refined further to improve its fit to the ground. venus can be used to produce alignments as a preliminary to optimization or as the basis for conventional design. it has been tested on several hundred kilometres of road and has also been used successfully in the design of a railway. the vertical alignments generated automatically tend to contain more vertical curves than those designed manually to the same geometric standards. this should reduce the earthworks quantities and hence the construction cost of the road scheme. the program venus is written in fortran and is available from the department of the environment. it is used routinely by road construction units of the department.(a)

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