Highway Structures Supported on Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Embankment without Deep Foundations

In 1972, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) adopted the use of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) geofoam as a super light-weight fill material in road embankments. The first project involved the successful reconstruction of road embankment adjacent to a bridge founded on piles to firm ground. Prior to reconstruction, the pre-existing embankments, resting on a 3 m thick layer of peat above 10 m of soft marine clay, experienced a settlement rate of more than 200 mm per year. However, by replacing 1 m of ordinary embankment material with two layers of EPS blocks, each 0.5-m thick, the settlement was successfully halted. The EPS blocks deployed had a density of 20 kg/m3, which is nearly 100 times lighter than the replaced materials. Subsequently, EPS geofoam technology has been successfully used elsewhere in Europe, Japan and the United States as a super light-weight material which is placed around highway bridges supported on deep foundations. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), funded National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 24-11(01) titled "Guidelines for Geofoam Applications in Embankment Projects" and Project 24-11(02) titled "Guidelines for Geofoam Applications in Slope Stability Projects." The results of these projects are available in the following reports: NCHRP Report 529, NCHRP Web Document 65, NCHRP 24-11(02) Final Report. The results of both NCHRP Project 24-11 studies demonstrate that EPS-block geofoam is a unique lightweight fill material that can provide a safe and economical solution to construction of stand-alone embankments and bridge approaches over soft ground, as well as an effective and economical alternative to slope stabilization and repair. Benefits of utilizing EPSblock geofoam as a lightweight fill material include: (1) ease of construction, (2) can contribute to accelerated construction, (3) ability to easily implement phased construction, (4) entire slide surface does not have to be removed because of the low driving stresses, (5) can be readily stored for use in emergency slope stabilization repairs, (6) ability to reuse EPS blocks utilized in temporary fills, (7) ability to be placed in adverse weather conditions, (8) possible elimination of the need for surcharging and staged construction, (9) decreased maintenance costs as a result of less settlement from the low density of EPS-block geofoam, (10) alleviation of the need to acquire additional right-of-way for traditional slope stabilization methods due to the ease with which EPS-block geofoam can be used to construct vertical-sided fills, (11) reduction of lateral stress on bridge approach abutments, (12) excellent durability, (13) potential construction without utility relocation, and (14) excellent seismic behavior.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $57133
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Utah, Salt Lake City

    College of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering
    Salt Lake City, UT  United States  84112-0561
  • Principal Investigators:

    Bartlett, Steven

  • Start Date: 20130101
  • Expected Completion Date: 20161231
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180423
  • Source Data: MPC-422

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01489495
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC08
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Aug 9 2013 1:01AM