Performance-based Specification for the Application of Ground Modification Methods for Bridges, Retaining Structures, and Associated Geotechnical Features

Over the last half century, public transportation agencies have greatly increased the use of ground modification methods due to a need to use marginal sites for new construction purposes and to mitigate the risk of failure or poor performance of constructed facilities. More recently, ground modification has been selected to meet challenges associated with accelerating construction in difficult geotechnical circumstances. Ground modification methods have been used to provide proactive and reactive geotechnical solutions for a range of issues including mitigating soft or loose ground, or potential geohazards; increasing the speed of construction; and improving efficiencies in design of highway features. Ground modification methods are commonly used in all areas of transportation including structure foundations, pavement subgrades and bases, cut slopes, embankments, and earth retaining structures, and are used to provide practical solutions that mitigate geotechnical risks, remediate poor feature performance, and improve long-term durability of transportation assets. During this time, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and several state departments of transportation (DOTs) have conducted research and have developed guidance documents and other resources to remove the mystique surrounding these solutions, which have typically been developed by contractors in search of innovative approaches to complex geotechnical issues. Research efforts have successfully summarized design methods and quality assurance (QA) procedures developed for commonly used ground modification methods and have demonstrated the design methods based in accepted geotechnical practice. Design and construction methods, equipment needs, technical feasibility, and acceptance criteria have been widely implemented through products, such as the FHWA Demonstration Project 116, and subsequent reference manual updates that have now become Geotechnical Engineering Circular (GEC) 13 – Ground Modification Methods. Training courses provided through the FHWA’s National Highway Institute (NHI) have assisted state DOTs in developing and implementing design manuals to govern the use of ground modification methods regionally and, most recently, the development and deployment of GeoTechTools as a solution-based web tool continues to assist with increased safe, reliable, and cost-effective use. The objective of this research is to develop an AASHTO guideline specification to assist public transportation agencies. There is a wide applicability of solutions for structure and earthworks, and large number of methods commercially available for ground modification. For continued promotion and cost-effective use, a guideline specification for the use of ground modification methods would provide agencies with a minimum and consistent standard for the selection, design, construction, and acceptance for commonly used techniques in transportation applications. Guideline specifications have the potential to dramatically increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of ground modification solutions by assisting designers with specification language that could help avoid common issues, such as incorrect application of methods, a lack of understanding of mechanisms for improvement, and reliable metrics for acceptance and payment of constructed solutions. A significant problem faced by state DOTs is the lack of a standard for selecting from many methods available and proper application for the problem or issue being addressed.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $450000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 10-121

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Abu-Hawash, Ahmad

  • Start Date: 20220607
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01846777
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 10-121
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 23 2022 3:03PM