Two-phase earthwork optimization model for highway construction

Christian Bogenberger, Mauro Dell'Amico, Guenther Fuellerer, Gerhard Hoefinger, Manuel Iori, Stefano Novellani, Barbara Panicucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


One of the main activities in highway construction is earthwork, which is a complex process involving excavation, transportation, and filling of large quantities of different earth material types. Earthwork operations are costly and undergo several constraints because of the fact that they have large environmental and social effects on the areas surrounding the construction site. Using mathematical models to produce a minimum-cost earthwork plan that satisfies all constraints is thus of great significance for enhancing the productivity of the overall construction project. This paper presents an earthwork optimization system on the basis of the use of linear programming that operates in a novel two-phase approach. In the first phase, an aggregate model determines the feasibility of the overall project, whereas in the second phase, disaggregate models determine the actual flows of each material. The two-phase quantitative method for earthwork optimization developed in this paper includes all features derived from the everyday activity of one of the major European companies in construction. It involves classical decisions, such as excavations, fillings, use of quarries and dump sites, and the temporary rent of depots, but it also accounts for several novelties, including the use of recycling facilities and the explicit integration with the existing public road network. Extensive computational results are obtained by running the models on a set of realistic instances, and show the efficiency of the proposed approach in solving complex earthwork problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number05015003
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Earthwork
  • Highway construction
  • Linear programming
  • Mathematical models
  • Quantitative methods


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