Tag Archives: Geotechnical Engineering

Call for Abstracts – 2015 International Foundations Congress and Equipment Exposition (IFCEE 2015)

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Although 2015 seems like a long way away, when you are planning the largest foundation engineering and construction conference in the U.S., you need to get started early!  The organizing committee for the  the 2015 International Foundations Congress and Equipment Exposition (IFCEE 2015) has released the Call for Abstracts here at the conference website.

This conference will be at the JW Marriott in San Antonio, Texas, March 17-21, 2015 and is hosted by a joint effort of ADSC: The International Association of Foundation Drilling (ADSC), Deep Foundations Institute (DFI), Geo-Institute of the ASCE (G-I), and Pile Driving Contractors Association (PDCA).  The program will include technical paper sessions (as poster or podium presentations), panel discussions and debates, indoor exhibits, an outdoor equipment exposition, educational short courses, technical committee meetings, and networking events.

DBA Engineers Coauthor Cover Story of Latest DFI Magazine

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Cover Image of the Hastings Mississippi River Arch Bridge

The featured article in the July/August 2013 issue of Deep Foundations, the magazine of the Deep Foundations Institute, is coauthored by Dan, Paul, and Rich Lamb, P.E., of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).  The article summarizes how load testing has been used successfully as part of the foundation design process by DBA and MnDOT on five major bridge projects along the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers during the last 10 years and the lessons learned from these successive projects.   The featured bridge projects include two major design-build projects, the emergency replacement of the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge (2007) and the Hastings Mississippi River Arch Bridge (2011).  The other traditional design-bid-build projects include the I-494 Wakota Mississippi River Bridge, the U.S. Hwy 52 Lafayette Mississippi River Bridge, and the St Croix River Bridge.  As is often the case, each of these projects presented unique geological and hydrogeological challenges to foundation design – despite the projects all being within 30 miles of each other – including thick layers of highly organic compressible soils overlying bedrock, layers of cobbles and boulders, artesian groundwater conditions, and bedrock ranging from weak weathered sandstone to very hard dolostone.  These varying conditions resulted in the use and testing of a variety of foundations.  Load testing “with a purpose” has proven to be an integral part of the design and construction process on these projects, as the load tests were not simply for verification of a design but provided valuable information used to optimize the designs and provide quality assurance of the construction practices.

Please read the full article here or in a copy of Deep Foundations, a bi-monthly magazine published by the Deep Foundations Institute.   DFI is an international technical association of firms and individuals involved in the deep foundations and related industry.  More information about DFI and how to become a member can be found at www.dfi.org.

Also see our Projects Page for more about some of these projects and our other major projects.

NCHRP Synthesis 429 – Geotechnical Information Practices in Design-Build Projects

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Early this year, NCHRP released a synthesis report on geotechnical practices related to design-build projects.  I have had writing a blog post on this on my “to do” list for a few months and finally got down the list!

NCHRP Synthesis 429 – Geotechnical Information Practices in Design-Build Projects is a report on the current practices of allocating and managing geotechnical risk through the use (or lack of!) geotechnical information in transportation project bid documents.  Even though design-build as a delivery process for projects has been around for a while now, the allocation of risk due to subsurface conditions is an issue still treated with a variety of approaches. 

Those of us who have been in this industry for a while know that a thorough geotechnical investigation reduces both cost risk and construction/schedule risk.  Design-build is an effective method for accelerating project construction and delivery; however, the acceleration of the schedule puts more pressure on the geotechnical design since “geotechnical investigation and design is usually the first design package that must be completed and geotechnical uncertainty is usually high at the time of DB contract award.”

Because geotechnical investigation and design is usually the first design package that must be completed and geotechnical uncertainty is usually high at the time of DB contract award, the design-builder’s geotechnical designers are under pressure to complete their work and enable foundation and other subsurface construction to commence. Successfully managing the geotechnical risk in a DB project is imperative to achieving the requisite level of quality in the finished product. The purpose of this synthesis is to benchmark the state of the practice regarding the use of geotechnical information in DB solicitation documents and contracts. The high level federal encouragement through EDC for state DOTs to accelerate project delivery by using DB elevates the need to manage geotechnical risk while expediting geotechnical design to a critical project success factor, and makes the results of this synthesis both timely and valuable.

As is the case with NCHRP synthesis reports, the authors conducted a literature review, conducted a survey of state DOTs and other agencies, and developed some conclusions that include effective practices for managing geotechnical risk.

The synthesis was based on a comprehensive literature review; a survey of U.S. DOTs, which received responses from 42 states (response rate = 84%); a content analysis of DB solicitation documents from 26 states; a content analysis of DB policy documents/guidelines from 12 state DOTs and 5 federal agencies; and interviews of 11 DB contractors whose markets encompass more than 30 states. The synthesis also furnishes three legal case studies (Colorado, Illinois, and Virginia) on cogent geotechnical issues and four geotechnical engineering case studies (Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri, and Montana) that illustrate the methods transportation agencies use to deal with geotechnical issues on DB projects. Conclusions were drawn from the intersection of independent sources of information from the survey, case studies, and literature.

Some of the effective practices highlighted include the use of confidential Alternative Technical Concepts (ATC) during pre-bid, explicit differing site conditions (DSC) clauses that clearly quantify the design-build team’s risk and the threshold above which the DOT assumes the risk, the use of qualified personnel, and timely review schedules for geotechnical design items early in the project.

Our (DBA) experience in design-build has seen the range from effective practices to poor practices.  This report provides a great summary of many of the effective practices we have found to be beneficial and that help reduce conflicts and delays.  We can’t completely eliminate geotechnical risk, but it can be effectively and equitably managed.

Click on the link below to get a copy from NCHRP.

NCHRP Synthesis 429 – Geotechnical Information Practices in Design-Build Projects

ENR’s Best of the Best 2012–Audubon Bridge

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The John James Audubon Bridge was recently selected as the Editor’s Choice/Transportation for ENR’s Best of the Best Projects for 2012.  The annual competition culminated in honoring ENR’s selection of the most outstanding construction projects in the U.s. And Puerto Rico complete between July 2011 and June 2012.

Nearly 1,000 project teams submitted their best work to ENR’s regional "Best Projects" competitions. For each of the nine regions, our editors assembled an independent panel of industry judges to home in on the winners in 19 categories. The winners of the regional contests moved on to the national competition. A different set of industry judges examined the projects to distinguish the "Best of the Best" in teamwork, success in overcoming challenges, innovation and quality. This year, a new award honors the safest project, judged by industry safety experts in both the regional and national competitions. Also, ENR’s editorial staff chose one special project as the "Editors’ Choice" to represent the pinnacle of design and construction excellence.

The Audubon Bridge won the Editor’s Choice – the editorial staff’s selection of the “pinnacle of design and construction excellence”.  Congratulations to everyone at Audubon Bridge Constructors (Flatiron, Granite and Parsons), Louisiana DOTD, and all who worked on the project!

Regular readers of our blog will be very familiar with the JJA as we often called it.   You can catch all of the geotechnical and foundation highlights on our project page, or check out previous posts.

Images from: ENR.com

“Geotechnical Monument” in St. Louis

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It may not have been intended as such, but we will “claim” this large rock core on the Mississippi River as a “geotechnical monument”.  At the site of the new I-70 crossing over the Mississippi River in St. Louis, one of the 11-foot diameter limestone rock cores retrieved from one of the rock sockets drilled for the bridge foundations has been placed on the river bank along with a sign. Our own David Graham stopped by and had some pictures taken when on a personal trip their last year.  So, the next time you are in St. Louis, look for the big hunk of rock on the west bank (St. Louis side) near the new bridge north of the Arch.

Check out our previous posts on this project here.

 

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Happy Karl Terzaghi’s Birthday 2012 (Updated)

Ah, October….here in the U.S. the leaves are beginning to turn as fall begins (or, in some places, fall off due to summer heat and lack of rain).  The beginning of fall marks a lot of things, such as the Major League Baseball playoffs (insert favorite team name here!), but more importantly the anniversary of the birthday of Karl Terzaghi!

I know that the past few years I have written an extended post highlighting something from Professor Terzaghi’s life or contributions to soil mechanics.  Alas, this fall I let the date creep up on me and my schedule this week left me little time to spend on a more detailed post.  I hope to resume that tradition next year.

Nonetheless, after a busy day of conference calls, design reviews, and calculations of pile resistance (or capacity for all of the folks still living in the ASD world), there will be time for a toast today, or maybe even a slice of birthday cake, in honor of our hero, Karl Terzaghi!

 

UPDATE 2!

Randy Post at Geoprac.net has set up 12 Terzghi Tweets for today.

UPDATE!

My friend (and former professor) Dr. Dave Elton, P.E., currently on sabbatical from Auburn University (War Eagle!), sent this ode today:

A timely ode to our Profession.

The beauty of soil’s

What we consider today,

In which cause we toil,

Be it silt, be it clay.

Foundations are mighty!

The piles we drive!

Geosynthetics are awesome!

We feel so alive!

Tho’ our pride sometimes suffers:

The hillside displaces.

And foundations still settle,

Leaving dirt on our faces.

Still our cause it is just!

From gravel to marl,

Our technology awesome!

Started by Karl!

So onward we press,

With our powers, expert.

As to-day we honor,

The Father of Dirt.

Happy Terzaghi’s Birthday.

Karl Terzaghi (1883 – 1963)

(Celebrate: Go trigger a landslide. You have my permission.)

 

D. Elton, P.E.

Auburn University October 02, 2012

Not copyrighted. Forward at will.

Barry Meyer, P.E. joins DBA!

12_Barry MeyerWe are pleased to announce that Barry J. Meyer, P.E., has joined DBA. Barry is a recognized expert in the design and construction of deep foundations. His over 30 years of geotechnical engineering experience includes time at McClelland Engineers in Houston where he designed large diameter high capacity driven piles for major offshore structures and developed subsea geotechnical instrumentation. He applied that knowledge at Marathon Oil Company where he was part of the team that installed the Steelhead oil production platform in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

After his time in Texas, Barry spent time at both Leighton and Associates and at Law Engineering in California, before joining HDR in their Tampa, Florida office. During this time, his drilled shaft experience includes the H-3 Windward Viaduct on Oahu, Hawaii where drilled shafts were used for the first time to support a major bridge structure and are now the foundation of choice in Hawaii. He was also innovative in the use of the Osterberg O-Cell as part of the repair of the Los Angeles Coliseum after the devastating Northridge earthquake.

Barry has worked on numerous international projects in a variety of capacities including the Confederate Bridge connecting New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island over the ice filled Northumberland Straits; the 55 km elevated Bang Na Expressway Project in Bangkok, Thailand; and the Puente de la Unidad cable-stayed bridge over the Santa Catarina River, Monterey, Mexico. He also has considerable seismic engineering experience, and has designed and constructed flood protection levee systems and water storage reservoirs.

Barry will be based in the Tampa, Florida area. You can check out more details about him on the About Us page of our blog.  Welcome, Barry!

Busy Fall Speaking Schedule for DBA

The months of September and October will be busy for several DBA team members speaking at a variety of conferences and events. Dan Brown and John Turner will be speaking at the ADSC/DFI Drilled Shaft Seminar and Field Day in Denver September 12 and 13. Dan will be giving the 4th Annual Osterberg Memorial Lecture at the DFI Educational Trust dinner being held on the evening of the 12th. Dan and John will be speaking mostly on construction issues during the seminar.   

 

MWGC logoLater in the month, Dan and Robert Thompson are both featured at the 2012 Midwest Geotechnical Conference hosted by Ohio DOT in Columbus, Ohio. Dan will be speaking on base grouted shafts while Robert will give his presentation on the ADSC SE Chapter rock socket load test research program.     

 

STGEC 2012In October, Dan and Robert appear together again at the 2012 Southeastern Transportation Geotechnical Engineering Conference (STGEC) in Richmond, Virginia. This will be the 43rd installment of this conference, hosted this year by the Virginia DOT. Dan will speak on design-build construction issues for deep foundations, while Robert will again present the load test research project. Dan will also speak at the 26th Central Pennsylvania Geotechnical Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania in October, and Robert will speak at the ADSC Carolinas Chapter meeting in Greenville, NC.

TRB Report: Scour at Bridge Foundation on Rock

TRB has released a new synthesis report covering scour of bridge foundations.  Since this is an issue we are involved in on a lot of our big bridge projects, I felt it appropriate to share and help spread the word (Disclosure:  I have not read the report yet – but plan to soon).  ON large bridge projects we are often on the same team as Ayres Associates, Inc. , the firm of one of the three authors, Paul E. Clopper.

I found out about it from our friend Randy Post of Geoprac.net, so hat tip (h/t) to Randy:

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 717: Scour at Bridge Foundations on Rock presents a methodology for estimating the time rate of scour and the design scour depth for a bridge founded on rock. The report also includes design and construction guidelines for application of the methodology.

Check out Randy’s site – he does a great job keeping up with all sorts of things related to geo-engineering.

Go here to get the report (download PDF or purchase printed copy)

Tim Siegel paper in Fellenius GSP

Our own Tim Siegel, P.E., G.E., D.GE. was one of a handful of people invited to submit papers for the recently published Geotechnical Special Publication (GSP) No. 227: Full-Scale Testing and Foundation Design (Honoring Bengt H. Fellenius).  Tim’s paper is on testing of augered cast-in-place piles.  Four piles were installed with varying auger rotations and then load tested in axial compression to evaluate the effect auger rotation on the axial behavior of the piles.

Just follow the link below to get the paper.  You can purchase the entire GSP No. 227 through the Geo-Institute of ASCE (Disclosure: No one at DBA benefits financially from the purchase).

Siegel, T.C. (2012). “Testing of Augered Cast-in-Place Piles installed with Varying Auger Rotations”, Full-Scale Testing and Foundation Design, Honoring Bengt H. Fellenius, Geotechnical Special Publication No. 227, Edited by M.H. Hussein, K. R. Massarsch, G.E. Likins, and R.D. Holtz, ASCE, pp333-348.

 

Foundation Design Fellenius