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Transport engineering (or transportation engineering) is the science of safe and efficient movement of people and goods (transport). It is a sub-discipline of civil engineering.

The planning aspects of transport engineering relate to urban planning, and involve technical forecasting decisions and political factors. Technical forecasting of passenger travel usually involves an urban transportation planning model, requiring the estimation of trip generation (how many trips for what purpose), trip distribution (destination choice, where is the traveler going), mode choice (what mode is being taken), and route assignment (which streets or routes are being used). More sophisticated forecasting can include other aspects of traveler decisions, including auto ownership, trip chaining (the decision to link individual trips together in a tour) and the choice of residential or business location (known as land use forecasting). Passenger trips are the focus of transport engineering because they often represent the peak of demand on any transportation system.

The design aspects of transport engineering include the sizing of transportation facilities (how many lanes or how much capacity the facility has), determining the materials and thickness used in pavement, designing the geometry (vertical and horizontal alignment) of the roadway (or track).

Operations and management involve traffic engineering, so that vehicles move smoothly on the road or track. Older techniques include signs, signals, markings, and tolling. Newer technologies involve intelligent transportation systems, including advanced traveler information systems (such as variable message signs), advanced traffic control systems (such as ramp meters), and vehicle infrastructure integration. Human factors are an aspect of transport engineering, particularly concerning driver-vehicle interface and user interface of road signs, signals, and markings.

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Highway engineering

Engineers in this specialization:

  • Handle the planning, design, construction, and operation of highways, roads, and other vehicular facilities as well as their related bicycle and pedestrian realms.
  • Estimate the transportation needs of the public and then secure the funding for the project.
  • Analyze locations of high traffic volumes and high collisions for safety and capacity.
  • Use civil engineering principles to improve the transportation system.

Railroad engineering

Railway engineers handle the design, construction, and operation of railroads and mass transit systems that use a fixed guideway (such as light rail or even monorails). Typical tasks would include determining horizontal and vertical alignment design, station location and design, and construction cost estimating. Railroad engineers can also move into the specialized field of train dispatching which focuses on train movement control.

Port and harbor engineering

Port and harbor engineers handle the design, construction, and operation of ports, harbors, canals, and other maritime facilities. This is not to be confused with marine engineering.

Airport engineering

Airport engineers design and construct airports. Airport engineers must account for the impacts and demands of aircraft in their design of airport facilities. One such example is the analysis of predominant wind direction to determine runway orientation.

See also

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