Civil Engineering Technical Terms and Meaning - For Q to S

For ‘Q’

QUARRY: An open pit from which building stone, sand, gravel, mineral, or fill, can be obtained.

For ‘R’

RAMP: (1) A steeply sloping road or floor. (2) A connecting roadway between two intersecting highways at a highway separation (3) A short length of drain laid much more steeply than the usual gradient.

RANDOM SAMPLE: A sample selected without bias so that each part has an equal chance of inclusion.

RAPID-HARDENING or HIGH-EARLY-STRENGTH CEMENT: A portland cement which hardens more quickly than ordinary Portland cement and is more costly because it is more finely ground.

RAVELLING OR FRETTING: Progressive disintegration of a pavement surface through the loss (Breaking away) of aggregate particles from a road surface.

RAVINE: Deep, narrow cliff or gorge in the earth surface.

RECYCLING (PAVEMENT): The re-use of existing pavement materials in a new pavement structure.

REHABILITATION: The improvement of an existing roadway surface by improving the existing surface or by removing (milling) a specified thickness of the existing pavement and placement of additional pavement layers.

RELEASE AGENT OR PARTING AGENT OR PARTING COMPOUND: A general term that includes any greases, mould oils or sealants, laid over forms or form linings either to ensure a good finish to the concrete, to prevent concrete bonding to forms or to improve the durability of the form or for both.

REINFORCED CONCRETE: Concrete containing more than 0.6% by volume of reinforcement consisting of steel rods or mesh. The steel takes all the tensile stresses (theoretically). In good design the reinforcement is sufficiently distributed so that the cracks are not conspicuous.

RESISTIVITY: A measure of a substance's resistance to the flow of electricity through it, expressed in ohm-centimeters. Used on soils to determine coating requirements for new pipe and used to determine the extent of corrosion of existing metal pipes.

RETARDER OR RETARDER OF SET: An admixture which slows up the setting rate of concrete.

RIGID PAVEMENT: A pavement having sufficiently high bending resistance to distribute loads over a comparatively large area (Portland Cement Concrete Pavement).

RIGHT-OF-WAY: A general term denoting land, property of interest therein, usually in a strip, acquired for or devoted to transportation purposes.

RIDGE: A long narrow elevation of land.

RIGIDITY: Resistance to twisting or shearing.

RIPRAP: Rock used for the protection of embankments, cut slopes, etc., against agents of erosion, primarily water.

ROADBED: The roadbed is that area between the intersection of the upper surface of the roadway and the side slopes or curb lines. The roadbed rises in elevation as each increment or layer of sub-base, base, surfacing or pavement is placed. Where the medians are so wide as to include areas of undisturbed land, a divided highway is considered as including two separate roadbeds.

ROADSIDE: A general term denoting the area adjoining the outer edge of the roadway. Extensive areas between the roadways of a divided highway may also be considered roadside.

ROADWAY: That portion of the highway included between the outside lines of sidewalks, or curbs, slopes, ditches, channels, waterways and including all the appertaining structures and other features necessary to proper drainage and protection.

RUMBLE STRIP, SERRATED STRIP OR JIGGLE BAR: A slightly raised or lowered strip of asphalt, plastic, etc., across the highway traffic lane or along the shoulder lane. Rumple strips are placed together at a spacing (usually one foot) to warn the driver, through an audible warning of the approaching hazard.

RUN-OFF: The amount of water from rain, snow, etc., which flows from a catchment area past a given point over a certain period. It is the rainfall less infiltration and evaporation. it can be increased by springs of ground-water or reduced by loss to the ground.

RUSTICATION: Having the surface rough or irregular, or the joints deeply sunk or chamfered.

RUTTING: Formation of longitudinal depressions by the displacement of soils or surfaces under traffic.

For ‘S’

SAGGING MOMENT: A bending moment which causes a beam to sink in the middle. Usually described as a positive moment.

SAND: Granular material passing through a #4 sieve (4.76 mm), but predominantly retained above the No. #200 sieve (74 micron).

SAND EQUIVALENT: A measure of the amount of clay contamination in fine aggregate.

SATURATED SURFACE DRY (SSD): A condition of an aggregate which holds as much water as it can without having any free surface water between the aggregate particles.

SCALING: A delamination of a thin portion of the top of Portland cement concrete.

SCARIFIER, RIPPER OR ROOTER: An implement which may be self-propelled or towed behind a tractor, with downward projecting tines for breaking a road surface for approximately two feet deep or less.

SCOUR OR EROSION: Removal of the sea bed or of a river bed or banks by erosive action of waves or flowing water.

SCREED, SCREED BOARD, SCREED RAIL OR TAMPER: (1) A wood or metal template with which a concrete surface is finished. Screeds are set to the correct level for the slab surface. The screed rail may be cambered but is usually straight. (2) A layer of mortar 2 to 7 cm thick, laid to finish a floor surface or as a bed for floor tiles.

SEALANT OR SEALING COMPOUND: (1) A fluid of plastic consistency laid over a joint surface or the outside of a joint filler to exclude water. Hot bitumen, rubber strip, plastic strip, hessian caulking, synthetic resins and building mastics are used as sealant. (2) A durable coating of plastics such as epoxy resin or polyurethane, painted on the face of form lining or timber formwork to enable it to be reused many times. (3) Liquid-membrane curing compound. A coating for roads (e.g., bituminous emulsion) over a damp, recently cast concrete surface, which prevents loss of water, and thus ensures proper curing of the concrete. (4) A treatment for a set concrete floor which strengthens the concrete surface or binds the aggregate, ensuring that it does not dust. Sodium silicate solution has been successfully used for many years.

SEDIMENT: Any material, mineral or organic matter deposited by water, air, etc., often called silt.

SEPTIC-TANK: Underground sewage collecting tank.

SETTLEMENT OR SUBSIDENCE: Downward movement of a structure such as a railway bridge, dam, or building, due to compression or downward movement of soil below it. It need not be harmful unless different parts settle by different amounts.

SHEAR: (1) The strain upon, or the failure of a structural member at a point where the lines of force and resistance are perpendicular to the member. (2) The load acting across a beam near its support. For a uniformly distributed load or for any other symmetrical load, the maximum shear is equal to half the total load on a simply supported beam, or to the total load on a cantilever beam. Maximum shear occurs at both ends of a simply supported beam (the acting moment equal to zero near the support's ends).

SHEATHING: A sheet metal covering over underwater timber to protect it against marine borers; sheeting.

SHEET PILES: Closely set piles of timber, reinforced or pre-stressed concrete, or steel driven vertically into the ground to keep earth or water out of an excavation.

SHORT COLUMN: A column which is so short that if overloaded it will fail not by crippling but by crushing.

SHOULDERS: The portion of the roadway contiguous with the travelled way for accommodation of stopped vehicles, for emergency use and for lateral support of base and surface courses.

SHOVING: Displacement of flexible pavement caused by high shear stresses or because of deficient pavement material.

SHRINKAGE: The shrinkage of concrete during hardening can amount to 0.0004 of its length at one year or half this value at two months. Cement mortar shrinks by a similar amount.

SHUTTERING: That part of formwork which either is in contact with the concrete or has the form lining attached to it.

SIDEWALK: That portion of the roadway primarily constructed for the use of pedestrians.

SILT: Granular material passing the No. 200 sieve (74 micron), finer than sand but coarser than clay, such particles in the range from 2 to 50 micron. It feels gritty between the fingers but the grains are difficult to see. It can be distinguished from clay by the shaking test or by rolling it into a thread. A thread of silt crumbles on drying, a clay thread does not. Rock flour and loess are materials of silt size.

SLAB: A flat, usually horizontal cast concrete member of uniform thickness which extends over three or more supports in a given direction.

SLAG: The waste glass-like product from a metallurgical furnace, which flows off above the metal.

SLAG CEMENTS: Cements made by grinding blast-furnace slag and mixing it with lime or Portland cement or dehydrated gypsum. Slag is also used in making expanding cement and super-sulphated cement.

SLIP-FORM: A narrow section of formwork in slab or wall shuttering that can easily be pulled or raised as concrete in place, and is designed to be removed first, thus making it easy to remove the remaining larger panels. It may also be called a wrecking piece or wrecking strip.

SLUMP: The decrease in height of wet concrete when a supporting mold is removed. It is a measure of consistency of freshly mixed concrete.

SLURRY: A thin, watery mixture of neat cement or cement and sand.

SOIL: Soil is gravels, sands, silts, clays, peats and all other loose materials including topsoil, down to bedrock.

SOLDIER PILE: An upright pile used to hold lagging.

SOUNDNESS: Resistance to both physical and chemical deterioration.

SPALLING: Peeling away of a surface, particularly of Portland cement concrete.

SPAN: The distance between the supports of a bridge, truss, arch, girder, floor, beam, etc.

SPILLWAY OR WASTEWAY: An overflow channel.

SPREAD FOOTING: A footing used to support a single column. This is also known as an individual column footing and isolated footing.

SPECIFICATIONS: Written or printed description of construction work to be done forming part of the contract, describing qualities of material and mode of construction, and giving dimensions and other information not shown in drawings. It includes bidding procedures, legal requirements, insurance requirements, material and workmanship requirements, inspection and testing procedures, and procedures for measurement and payment of the work, also the specifications establish obligations of the contracting parties with respect to the State (Client) and his Engineer, it is the obligation to clearly define what is required; to establish a plan for its enforcement to the extent required during the period of execution; and to indicate how the work will be measured and paid for. With respect to the Contractor, it is the obligation of complying with the Contract requirements during the construction period. The Specifications includes Standard Specifications and Special Provisions.

SPECIAL PROVISIONS: Approved supplementary provisions, additions, revisions or deletions to the standard specifications which may cover conditions peculiar to an individual project.

SOIL STABILIZATION: Modification of soils or aggregates by incorporating materials that will increase load bearing capacity, firmness and resistance to weathering or displacement. Common methods are mixing the soil with cement or waste oil or imported soil, also compaction or merely covering with a primer.

STANDARD SPECIFICATIONS: The current edition of the State's Standard Specifications for State Road and Bridge Construction.

STANDARD DEVIATIONS: A measure of variability that can be calculated form the differences between individual measurements in a group and their average.

STEADY FLOW: Flow which does not vary with time.

STRAND: A number of steel wires grouped together by twisting.

STREET: A general term denoting a public way for purposes of vehicular travel, including the entire area within the right-of-way.

STRESS-ABSORBING MEMBRANE INTERLAYER (SAMI): A low-stiffness mixture of asphalt cement, rubber and mineral aggregate placed between layers of pavement to retard the transfer of stresses between the layers.

STRUCTURES: Bridges, culverts, catch basins, drop inlets, retaining walls, cribbing, manholes, headwalls, buildings, sewers, service pipes, under-drains, foundation drains and other structural features.

STRIPPING: (1) Loss of binder (Bituminous film) from aggregate particles or from a road surface, due to presence of water. (2) Removing formwork. (3) Clearing a site of turf, brush-wood, topsoil, or the first layer of soil.

SUBBASE COURSE: One or more layers of specified or selected materials, of designed thickness, placed on the sub-grade to support a base course.

SUBCONTRACTOR: An individual, partnership, firm, corporation or any acceptable combination thereof, or joint venture, to which the contractor sublets a part of the contract.

SUBGRADE: The roadbed materials beneath the pavement structure. The top prepared surface of the sub-grade is called finished sub-grade elevation.

SUBSTRUCTURE: All that part of the bridge below the bridge seats, tops of piers, haunches of rigid frames or below the spring lines of arches. Back-walls and parapets of abutments and wing walls of bridges shall be considered as parts of the substructure.

SUBSOIL: (1) The weather soil directly below the topsoil. (2) The ground below formation level also called the sub-grade or foundations.

SULPHATE-BEARING SOILS: If ground water contains more than 0.1% of SO3 or if clay contains more than 0.5% of SO3, high-alumina cement should be used for all concrete in the ground. Portland pozzolana cement may sometimes give enough protection at lower cost. No precautions needed with foundation concrete in water containing less than 0.02% of SO3 or clay which contains less than 0.1% of SO3.

SUMP: A pit in which water or sewage collects before being baled or pumped out.

SUPERELEVATION: Exaggerated tilt of roadway on a curve to counteract centrifugal force on vehicles.

SUPERSTRUCTURE: All that part of a structure above and including the bearing of simple and continuous spans, skewbacks of arches and top of footings of rigid frames, excluding back-walls, wing-walls, and wing protection rails.

SURETY: The corporate body bound with the contractor for the full and complete performance of the contract and for payment of all debts pertaining to the work.

SURCHARGE: A surface loading in addition to the soil load behind a retaining wall.

SURFACE RECYCLING: Recycling an existing pavement surface by heating, scarifying
(Milling), remixing, rejuvenating with an emulsified recycling agent, placing and compacting.

SURFACE WATER: Water carried by an aggregate in addition to that held by absorption within the aggregate particles themselves. It is water in addition to saturated surface density water.

SURFACING: The uppermost layer of material placed on the traveled way, or shoulders. This term is used interchangeably with pavement.

SURFACE COURSE: One or more layers of specified materials designed to accommodate the traffic load; the top layer of which resists skidding, traffic abrasion and the disintegrating effect of climate. The top layer is sometime called a "wearing course".

SWELLING PRESSURE: The pressure exerted by a contained clay when it absorbs water. It can amount to considerably more than the pressure of the overlying soil.
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