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Glossary of Road and Construction Terms

3-C Planning – The continuing, cooperative, comprehensive planning process in an urbanized area as required by federal law.
3R Project – 3R stands for resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation. These projects are designed to extend the life of an existing highway surface and to enhance highway safety. These projects usually overlay the existing surface and replace guardrails. 3R projects are generally constructed within the existing highway right-of-way.
Abutment – An abutment is made from concrete on piling and supports the end of a bridge deck.
Action Plan – A set of general guidelines and procedures developed by each state to assure that adequate consideration is given to possible social, economic and environmental effects of proposed highway projects.
Aesthetics – In the highway context, the considerations of landscaping, land use and structures to insure that the proposed highway is pleasing to the eye of the viewer from the roadway and to the viewer looking at the roadway.
Aggregate – Stone and gravel of various sizes which compose the major portion of the surfacing material. The sand or pebbles added to cement in making concrete.
Air Pollution – The presence of contaminating particles in the air which interfere with a person’s health, safety or comfort, personal property, plants and animals.
Air Rights – The property rights for the control or specific use of a designated air space involving a highway.
Alignment – The vertical and horizontal location of a road.
Alternate Routes – The various general highway locations examined in corridor studies to determine the best alignment for a highway.
Ambient Air – Any unconfined portion of the atmosphere; the outside air.
Apportionment – Method used to determine the share of funds each state highway administration receives from the Federal Government.
Arterial – A general term denoting a highway primarily for through traffic, usually on a continuous route.
Backfill – Material used to replace, or the act of replacing, material removed during construction. Also, may denote material placed, or the act of placing material adjacent to structures.
Backslope – The slope from the bottom of the ditch to natural ground, on the opposite side of the fore slope.
Berm – A raised mound of earth used in different ways; as a site barrier, used to separate the roadway embankment from a drainage way, as a sound barrier, or for architectural reasons.
Bicycle Lanes – Portions of a roadway set aside for bicycle use, with the lanes distinguished from the motor vehicle portion of the roadway by painted stripes, curbs, or parking blocks.
Bitumen – A natural asphalt or substance found in a natural state or a residue by-product from petroleum refinement.
Box Culvert – A box culvert is cast-in-place or pre-cast reinforcedconcrete and has a box shape that is located under the embankment to drain water from one side of the road to the other.
Bridge Deck Scarification – To remove the existing concrete bridge driving surface in preparation for a concrete overlay. This is usually done with a cold milling machine consisting of hardened steel bits attached to a revolving drum.
Bridge Pier – A bridge pier is a supporting structure at the junction of connecting spans of a bridge.
Buffer Zone – The area 15 feet from the edge of the roadway surface including the rest of the right-of-way which is planted with native and adapted grasses and provides habitat for wildlife.
Bypass Routes – An arterial highway that permits traffic to avoid part or all of an urban area.
Cold Milling – To prepare an existing bridge deck or roadway pavement for resurfacing, the department sometimes creates a new roadway cross section and profile by cold milling the existing surface with a machine that has hardened steel bits in a revolving drum.
Collector – Consists of a group of highways and/or streets which pick up traffic from many local or land-service roads and carry it to community centers or to the arterial system. They are the main school bus routes, mail routes, and farm-to-market routes.
Collector Street – A street which serves the internal traffic movement within the city and connects with the major arterial system.
Commodity Flow – Path that products follow because of division of labor and specialization.
Community Values – The social, economic and environmental factors unique to a given community.
Concrete – Concrete is a building material made of sand and gravel bonded together with portland cement into a hard, compact substance.
Concrete Revetment – Mats As an alternative to concrete riprap along a ditch or waterway bank, sometimes a concrete revetment mat will be used. The mat is a heavy fabric envelope which is pumped full with cement mortar that hardens and conforms to the shape of the surface upon which it is placed.
Connecting Link – A roadway on the state highway system which extends between and junctions with two other numbered routes on the state highway system. Such roads are usually relatively short in length.
Construction Costs – Those costs after the contract has been let. This includes engineering, survey, inspection, in addition to those actual construction costs. The written contract between the Department and the contractor setting forth the obligations of the parties, including, but not limited to, the performance of the work, the furnishing of labor and materials, and the basis of state highway payment
Cordon Line – An imaginary line encircling a survey area defining the limits of the internal survey and location of external traffic survey stations.
Cordon Stations – Stations located on each street crossing the cordon line where vehicles were counted and classified during survey hours.
Cordon Survey – A roadside-interview type of study in which drivers are stopped and questioned about origin and destination of their trip and its purpose. The interviews are conducted at stations on the external or internal cordons, or on both.
Correlation – An interdependence between variables.
Corridor – An area of variable width between two points. In highway work, corridors are defined areas where the needs for improvement are studied.
County Roads – Those roadways which are constructed and maintained primarily by county governments and which are not on the state highway system.
Cul-de-sac – A local street open at one end only, which allows vehicles to turn around.
Dead End – Any structure, not classified as a bridge, which provides an opening under the roadway. A local street open at one end only and with no special provisions for turning around.
Design Speed – A speed determined for design and correlation of the physical features of a highway which influence vehicle operation.
Design Volume – A volume determined for use in design, representing traffic expected to use the highway 20 years in the future. Unless otherwise stated, it is an hourly volume.
Design Year – Year of initial construction, plus 20 years.
Destination – The zone in which a trip ends.
Detector Loop – New traffic signal installation contracts usually include the construction of a wire detector loop placed under the surface of the pavement in the approach area of the intersection. When a motorist drives over the detector loop, the time phase for the light is affected.
Detour – The route used for through traffic around construction areas.
Diffusion Models – A mathematical model to estimate pollution concentrations from a specific source.
Dikes – A bank, usually of earth, constructed to control or confine water.
Divided Highway – A highway with separated roadways for traffic in opposite directions.
Drop Structure – A particular type of drainage structure used to carry water under or away from the roadway with a vertical drop built into the structure.
Earth Excavation – On a construction project that requires new or relocated roadway, the earth which must be moved from one place to another is called earth excavation.
Easement – A right to use or control the property of another for designated purposes. For example, drainage easement, planting easement, scenic easement, sight line easement and slope easement are five types of easements in connection with highways. Easements may be either temporary or permanent.
Ecology – The inter-relationships of living things to one another and to their environment, or the study of such inter relationships.
Emulsified Asphalt – An emulsified asphalt is a common construction material used to prime, seal or resurface a highway. It consists of asphalt that is chemically mixed with water in an emulsion.
Environmental Impact – The effects a project will have upon the environment, especially the human environment.
Environmental Impact Statement – A written summary of the probable effects a project will have on the environment, especially the human environment.
Erosion Control Measures – Those standards used to retard deterioration or destruction of the land surface.
Excavation – The act of taking out materials, the materials taken out, or the cavity remaining after materials have been removed.
Exhaust Emissions – The air pollutants emitted from the exhaust of the internal combustion engine, namely carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons.
Expansion – Tie Anchors Whenever the Department widens a pavement or constructs new curbing adjacent to an existing concrete pavement, these accessories are tied to the old pavement by use of steel anchor bolts drilled into the vertical edge of the pavement.
Expressway – A divided arterial highway for through traffic with full or partial control of access and generally with grade separations at major intersections.
External Survey – A line encircling the study area within which the detailed study is conducted
Foreslope – Procedure for estimating future land use, population and traffic patterns
Frontage Road – A local street or road located on the side of an arterial highway which permits access to residences and businesses from the controlled intersection of the arterial highway.
Functional Classification – Identification of a road by the function it serves.
Functional Design – The determination of precise alignments of a road in an established corridor. From the functional design, detailed plans are later developed which result in final design.
Gradient – The percent of vertical or longitudinal slope.
Ground Cover – Grasses or other plants grown to keep soil from being blown or washed away.
Groundwater Table – The level of water under the earth’s surface.
Growth Center Funds – Those funds which can be allocated to the three growth center areas for use on primary and secondary projects.
Growth Centers – Those areas designated as such by the Federal Highway
Guard Rail – A steel rail with two corrugations at the shoulder edge of a highway, usually in front of roadside hazards. Also cable guard rail.
Horizontal Curve (of Highway) – Bend from a straight line or course along a roadway.
Human Environment – The total of all external conditions and influences (aesthetic, ecological, biological, cultural, social, economic, historical, etc.) that affect the life of a human
Hydraulics – A branch of science that deals with practical applications (as the transmission of energy or effects of flow) of water or other fluid in motion.
Hydrology – The study of water in the atmosphere, on the surface, and underground
Cordon – A line established for the purpose of obtaining origin and destination information about vehicle trips within the internal area. Roadside interview stations are located along the inner cordon where the cordon intersects major roadways.
Interchange – A system of interconnecting roadways providing for the free movement of traffic between two or more roadways on different levels. For example, three types of interchanges are: cloverleaf, diamond and directional. Variations of these basic types are possible.
Interdisciplinary – Approach Involving a variety of professions in solving a particular problem.
Internal Survey – The phase of the survey in which traffic data are obtained by interviewing residents of selected dwelling units throughout the entire survey area and interviewing the owners or operators of a a representative sample of all taxicabs and trucks registered in the survey area.
Land Use – The functions for which various land areas are used or are planned to be used, such as: agriculture, housing, education, cultural recreations, religious, industrial and commercial uses.
Land Use Forecast – An estimate of the number of acres in specific use by a specific date at a particular location.
Lane Mile – One mile of a two-lane highway equals two lane miles. Therefore, if there are four “lane miles” of two-lane, there are eight actual miles to maintain.
Lateral Obstacle Clearance – An area relatively flat and free of obstacles beyond the edge of the travel way for the recovery of out-of-control vehicles.
Level of Project – An alphabetical designation assigned to a project which indicates factors such as type of project, degree of complexity and extent of social, economic and environmental study required.
Level of Service – The term used to indicate the quality of service provided by a facility under a given set of operating conditions. These conditions include speed, travel time, traffic interruptions, freedom to maneuver, safety, driving comfort and convenience, and operating costs.
Level Review Committee – The group established in the Action Plan to review all proposed projects, flowing systems planning, to determine their level. The established level serves as a guideline for the type of study which is needed and procedures for the project.
Luminaire – A traffic count made by a vehicle recording traffic counting machine on tape with a vehicle detector at a specific location on a highway.
Count – The preserving and keeping of each type of roadway, roadside, structure, and facility as nearly as possible in its original condition as constructed, or as later improved.
Maintenance and Operating Costs – Cost of keeping the road in operating condition. (e.g. repair of chuck holes, mowing, snow removal)
Maintenance Major Street or Major Highway – An arterial highway with intersections at grade and direct access to abutting property, and on which geometric design and traffic control measures are used to expedite the safe movement of through traffic
Manual Count – A traffic count made by stationing a person at a specific location on a highway and recording traffic by tally sheet, hand counters, or other non-automatic devices.
Mapping – A method by which any number of different factors can be examined individually and in combination in relation to one common objective. (e.g. the best route for a highway after consideration of the factors)
Market Value – The highest price for which property can be sold in the open market by a willing seller to a willing purchaser, neither acting with compulsion and both exercising reasonable judgment.
Mean Trip Time – Travel time determined by compiling the elapsed trip times for all trips in a particular movement and dividing the total by number of trips. This technique is used to find a weighted travel time for trips between a work zone cluster and each ring-corridor segment in which the workers live. Mean trip time is usually determined for each mode.
Median – The portion of a divided highway separating the traveled ways for traffic in opposite directions.
Median Lane – A speed-change lane within the median to accommodate left-turning vehicles.
Mobilization – each road segment can handle the traffic pattern and volume it is expected to carry.
Modal Split – The division of person trips between mass and private transportation.
Mode of Trave – Means of travel such as auto driver, vehicle passenger, mass transit passenger, or pedestrian.
Model – A system of data presented in a mathematical format (as in traffic model).
Mulch – A protective covering (e.g. native hay or grain straw) spread on the ground to reduce evaporation, maintain even soil temperature, and prevent erosion.
Multiple Correlation – Correlation involving one dependent variable and two or more independent variables.
Multiple Regression – A trend line involving one dependent variable and two or more independent variables.
Multiple Use of Space Projects in which usage by the public or some other agency can be made of that space which was acquired for the development of a highway project. This can involve use under an existing overhead structure, the use of air space above the roadway, usage alongside the highway, or a combination of these and could be developed either at the time of construction or later.
Native Grasses – Those grasses which are common to the area in which they are planted.
Negative Declaration – A written statement that the probable effects of a project on the environment will be minimal.
Neighborhood – A primary informal group consisting of all persons who live in local proximity. Often considered to be the locality served by an elementary school or neighborhood convenience shopping center. Neighborhoods form the more or less cohesive cells of a larger community.
Neoprene Expansion Joint – The transverse joint found at the ends of bridge deck slabs is sometimes filled with a prefabricated black rubberized material called neoprene expansion joint. The rubber expands and contracts with the broad range of Nebraska temperatures.
Node – A specific point on a study system network where two or more links intersect and where a choice of travel routing is possible. A node may coincide with a zone centroid and may be used for the purpose of describing the network.
Noise Level – The degree of undesired sound which affects the auditory senses.
Pavement – The acquisition of a portion of a parcel of property. The part of a roadway having a constructed surface for the facilitation of vehicular movement.
Pavement Marking – The lane lines or symbols painted on pavement surfaces. Marking can be done with several different types of materials.
Peak Hour – That one-hour period during which the maximum amount
of travel occurs. Generally, there is a morning peak and an afternoon peak and traffic assignments may be made for each period, if desired.
Pedestrian – Any person afoot. Pedestrian Crossings Designated crossings where pedestrians may safely cross a busy highway or roadway.
Performance Graded Binder – A performance graded binder came about with the developments of Superpave. The superpave system incorporates performance based asphalt materials characterization with the mix design and environmental conditions to improve performance by controlling rutting, low temperature cracking, and fatigue cracking. Permanent Seeding Planting of ground cover after completion of the improvement. These grasses and legumes will be of a lasting nature to insure continued control of soil erosion.
Planning and Research Funds Federal funds are available for research on all phases of highway construction, modernization, development, design maintenance, safety, financing, and traffic conditions. The research may be conducted by government agencies or private groups. One and one-half percent of each state’s federal-Aid apportionment is reserved to be used exclusively for these purposes. Federal funds made available for planning and research projects must be matched by the state in accordance with prescribed ratios unless FHWA determines that no matching funds are required.
Planning Study Report – A Department document which is prepared at the beginning of a project. This basic document will contain a location map, type of improvement, documentation of the supporting needs for the project, statement as to whether any significant environmental impact is anticipated, statement of alternatives, and a list of study areas examined. This document will be circulated within the Department, to other agencies, and to the public for their input.
Possible Capacity – The maximum number of vehicles that can pass a given point on a lane or roadway during one hour under prevailing roadway and traffic conditions.
Pozzolanic – This is a mixture of aggregate, water and a cementing agent that consists of lime and fly ash to create a durable road surface.
Practical Capacity – The maximum number of vehicles that can pass a given point on a lane or roadway during one hour under the prevailing roadway and traffic conditions without unreasonable delay or restrict to the driver’s freedom to maneuver.
Precast Concrete Bridge – Slab A new concrete bridge slab can be constructed by the use of either cast-in-place reinforced concrete, or by the use of precast concrete deck segments manufactured off site, transported to the job, and lifted up and set on the bridge piers. These segments are then tied together with steel bolts and the joints filled with a cement mortar. Depending upon the type of design, these precast concrete bridge slabs will be either driven upon directly or first surfaced with a bituminous concrete surface.
Radial Highway – An arterial highway leading to or from an urban center.
Railroad Grade Crossing – The general area where a highway and a railroad cross at the same level, within which are included
Raised Island – That portion of the roadway which is raised above the travel-way by means of a curb to separate traffic.
Ramp A – connecting roadway between two intersecting highways at a highway separation.
Recreation Road – A roadway which is not part of the state highway system but which has been developed and improved by money from the State Recreation Road
Reflective Crack Control Treatment – A method used to retard the reflective cracking into or thru the new asphalt surface; fabric, heavy overlay or other strategies are used.
Regional Growth Model – A land-use model used to estimate growth and future land-use patterns.
Regional Planning Agency – An area-wide A-95 Review Agency. There is presently one such agency in Nebraska located in the southeast portion. The counties which form this agency are: Nemaha, Johnson, Pawnee, and Richardson.
Registration – The registration certificate or certificates and registration plates issued under the laws of this State pertaining to the registration of vehicles.
Remainder – The portion of the tract of land retained by the owner after a part of such tract of land has been acquired.
Remnant – A remainder so small or irregular that it usually has little or no economic value to the owner.
Retaining Wall Structure used to contain an embankment, also used on a backslope.
Right of Immediate Possession – The right to occupy property for highway purposes, after preliminary steps for acquisition have been taken and before final settlement.
Right of Survey Entry – The right to enter property temporarily to make surveys and investigations for proposed highway improvements.
Right-of-Way – Land acquired by purchase, gift or eminent domain in order to build and maintain a public road.
Right-of-Way Appraisal – A determination of the market value of property including damages, if any, as of a specified date, resulting from an analysis of facts.
Right-of-Way Estimate – An approximation of the market value of property including damages, if any, in advance of an appraisal.
Right-of-Way – Strip Map – A plan of highway improvement showing its ,relationship to adjacent property, the parcels or portions thereof, needed for highway purposes, and other pertinent information.
Riparian -Relating to, living, or located on a bank of a natural watercourse (as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater.
Riparian Right – The rights of an owner of water-fronting lands in the bed, banks, accretions, water, access, moorage, and related items.
Riprap -When the Department constructs an embankment adjacent to a stream or lake, the bank is lined with broken concrete or limestone rock to prevent erosion.
Riverine – Living or situated on the banks of a river.
Road User Benefits – The advantages, privileges or savings that accrue to drivers or owners through the use of one highway facility as compared with the use of another. Benefits are measured in terms of the decrease in road user costs and the increase in road user services.
Road User Costs – Vehicular operating costs, usually expressed in cents per vehicle mile, covering all items involved in vehicle ownership and operation. The value of time is included as one of the items of cost.
Road User Services – Advantages or privileges accruing to the vehicle driver or owner through features of safety, comfort, convenience, etc. In some cases these can be evaluated in cents per vehicle mile.
Roadside Control – The public regulation of the roadside to improve highway safety, expedite the free flow of traffic, safeguard present and future highway investment, conserve abutting property values, or preserve the attractiveness of the landscape
Roadside Zoning – The application of zoning for roadside control.
Roadway – The portion of a highway, including shoulders, for vehicular use.
Roadway – Cuts Segments of roadway lower than the surrounding ground.
Roadway – Embankment A raised structure of soil, soil-aggregate, sand or rock.
Rural Area – An area whose character is rural in nature and which may include towns of less than 5,000 population.
Safety Features Highway – features which provide for safe travel. These include flat slopes, no hazardous obstacles within thirty feet of the driving lanes, breakaway sign supports, and safety beams and cable guards.
Safety Zone – The area or space officially set apart within a roadway for the exclusive use of pedestrians and which is protected or is so marked or indicated by adequate signs as to be plainly visible at all times while set apart as a safety zone.
Salvage – Saving different materials from projects where existing surfacing and structures are removed and using these in other construction.
Sawing Concrete Pavement – When patching a failed area of existing pavement the contractor is required to make a full depth saw cut around the perimeter of the patch so that the segment can be dislodged and removed. Also done to control cracking in concrete.
Scheduling The process of developing a plan of operations to carry out the program. The process first involves breaking down projects into activities, setting starting and ending times for those activities, determining the resources required to perform the work, then adjusting the times as necessary to balance the resource requirements.
Section 4(f) – Land Any publicly owned parks, recreation areas, historic sites, or wildlife or waterflow refuges of national, state, or local significance as determined by federal, state or local officials having jurisdiction over such lands.
Sector – A combination of traffic zones which presents a moremeaningful tabulation of traffic data.
Sediment Basin Structure in which water moves slowly enough for suspended particles to settle.
Severance Damages Loss – in value of the remainder of a parcel resulting from an acquisition. (Sometimes called Indirect Damages)
Signing – Visual method of providing the vehicle driver with guide, warning and regulatory information along a highway.
Simulate – To reproduce synthetically. (e.g., to simulate trip distribution)
Slope Drains – The drainage structures used to prevent water erosion damage to slopes.
Slope Easement -An easement for cuts or fills.
Social Costs – Costs that are not included in the usual calculations concerning engineering, construction and right-of-way costs.
Speed-change Lane – An auxiliary lane including tapered areas, primarily for the acceleration or deceleration of vehicles entering or leaving the through traffic lanes.
Spurs – A roadway on the state highway system which radiates from another numbered route on the state highway system. The principal characteristic is that only one end of the route junctions with another highway route.
Stability Classes – A weather term which denotes classes A through F derived from meteorological data that determine the severity of air pollution potential. Class A – very much turbulent mixing of air; class F – very little mixing, pollution stays where it is emitted.
Storage Lane – An auxiliary lane, primarily to allow those vehicles which turn to wait for through traffic to proceed across the intersection.
Study Area – The area encircled by the external cordon.
Surfacing – Material used to construct the roadway. There are four types: Asphalt, Bituminous, Concrete, Gravel.
Survey Period – That time during which the external origin and destination survey is conducted. The survey period begins the day that the first interview station is operated up to and including the day of the last interview station.
Through Trip – highways is required to stop or yield before entering or crossing and where appropriate signs are erected as provided by law, unless entry or crossing is made on the proper indication of a traffic-control signal. A trip having both origin and destination outside the Survey Area, passing completely through the area and crossing the cordon line twice.
Time Cost – Travel time by car or transit (door-to-door), converted to cost values (cents per minute) so that time costs may be combined with other items of cost.
Topography – Representation on maps or charts depicting natural and man-made features of an area or region.
Tourism – Pleasure trips usually of longer than local distance.
Traffic – All types of conveyances, together with their load, whether singly or as a whole, as well as pedestrians, while using any roadway for the purpose of transportation or travel.
Traffic Count – or erected under public authority, for the purpose of regulating, warning, informing or guiding traffic. A count of total vehicular traffic passing a given point on a highway during a specified time period. This might be a manual or machine count.
Traffic Flow -The movement of vehicles on a highway system or on a single route.
Travel Time – by the state in the form of reimbursement for work already done and paid for by the state. The state may claim the federal share of the cost of work in the form of monthly progress payments. The time of travel, including stops and delays, except those off the traveled way.
Traveled Way – The portion of the roadway for the movement of vehicles, exclusive of shoulders and auxiliary lanes.
Trench Backfill – Soil or sand used to backfill storm sewer trenches.
Unchannelized Intersection – An at-grade intersection without islands for directing traffic into definite paths.
Underdrains – The pipe that is put into the trench next to the highway (a multi-lane divided highway). It is backfilled with porous sand which lowers the water table and makes the grade of the highway more stable.
Underpass – A grade separation where the highway passes under an intersecting highway or railroad.
Unrestricted Access Crossings of the highway are permitted at-grade along the entire length.
Urban Area – An area whose character is urban in nature and which may include towns of more than 5,000 population.
Vehicle – Every device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
Vehicle Miles – Normally obtained by multiplying the average daily traffic by 365 and by multiplying the mileage of road to which the average daily traffic is applicable.
Vertical Curve – A smooth transition between two sloping grade lines; a hill or valley.
Vertical Curve (of Highway) – A curve on the longitudinal profile of a road to provide for change of gradient.
Zone – A portion of the study area, delineated as such for particular land use and traffic analysis purposes. There may be two types of zones used in the traffic assignment process: (a) Survey zone – A subdivision of the study area which is used during the data collection phase of the study. (b) Traffic assignment zone – A subdivision of the study area represented by a centroid.
Zone Centroid – A point of trip origin or destination.
Zoning – The division of an area into districts and the public regulation of the character and intensity of land use and improvements thereon.