Title page for ETD etd-091799-214934

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Stallings, Sheila Lynne
URN etd-091799-214934
Title Roadside Ditch Design and Erosion Control on Virginia Highways
Degree Master of Science
Department Civil Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Diplas, Panayiotis Committee Chair
Kibler, David F. Committee Member
Loganathan, G. V. Committee Member
  • roadway ditches
  • ditch design
  • Virginia Transportation Research Council
  • Virginia Department of Transportation
Date of Defense 1999-09-17
Availability unrestricted
Roadside Ditch Design and Erosion Control on Virginia Highways


Sheila L. Stallings


The state of roadside ditch design and performance has become a topic of concern for the Virginia Department of Transportation. Erosion failures of roadside ditches have occurred frequently enough to indicate that it may be desirable to revise the current design practice. Through the Virginia Transportation Research Council, VDOT has sponsored this research to investigate the state of design practice for these structures and to explore revisions to the design process resulting in a more economical design.

To investigate the erosion problems, various VDOT personnel at each of Virginia's nine Construction Districts were interviewed with the intent to gain an understanding of roadside ditch performance in each District. When possible, field visits were made to sites experiencing erosion failure and soil samples were collected for analysis. In addition, experiences and design procedures in neighboring states were reviewed, with the objective of determining if similar problems have been experienced, and if so, how they have been addressed. The survey of other states included nine states, and a site visit to the Mount Airy District of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. A study of the literature relating to the hydraulic performance of unlined and lined ditches was also performed, with the objective of researching available stability criteria used in ditch design and determining if suitable values of Manning's n are being used in Virginia design.

The results of this study presented in this thesis represent the best recommended roadside ditch design practice based on current available research. Recommendations include revisions to the current relationship of soil type and maximum allowable velocity, revisions to the application of Manning's n for various lining conditions, and suggestions to improve the overall design and construction process based on surveyed VDOT experience, surrounding states and current research. Future research will be necessary to improve the scientific bases for these recommendations

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