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RETAINING WALL CASE STUDIES AND SOLUTIONS by Marcus J. Galvan, P.E.

TxDOT Bridge Division Geotechnical Branch

COMMON RETAINING WALL TYPES


CONCRETE BLOCK MSE TEMPORARY EARTH SPREAD FOOTING

Gabions

Drilled Shaft

Soil Nail

Tiedback

Hybrid Walls MSE/Soil Nail


FILL SITUATIONS

RETAINING WALL SELECTION

CUT SITUATIONS

CUT/FILL SITUATIONS

MSE CONCRETE BLOCK SPREAD FOOTING TEMPORARY EARTH GABION

DRILLED SHAFT TIEDBACK SOIL NAIL MSE WITH SHORING SPREAD FOOTING WITH SHORING

DRILLED SHAFT MSE WITH SHORING SPREAD FOOTING WITH SHORING HYBRID SOIL NAIL/MSE

TxDOT has had relatively few retaining wall failures.

Failure
General Definitions
Inability of a component or structure to perform its intended function Note: Failure does not necessarily involve collapse or rupture

Causes of Failures
Design deficiencies Construction/Inspection problems Material defects Maintenance deficiencies

DESIGN DEFICIENCES
MSE WALL PLACED ON A SLOPE GABION WALL USED AS BANK PROTECTION BENEATH A BRIDGE

DESIGN DEFICIENCY: MSE WALL PLACED ON A SLOPE

Retaining walls are sometimes placed on slopes to minimize retaining wall square footage.

MSE WALL ON A SLOPE

Engineer did not analyze the wall for external stability (FSs of sliding, overturning, and overall stability).

Weak Zone

< 10 blows/ft

Limestone

WALL FAILURE

CONTINUED FAILURE

Weak Zone

< 10 blows/ft

Failure Surface Elevation Limestone

LESSONS LEARNED
Overall (global) stability of every wall must be evaluated by the engineer who selects the wall (especially those on slopes). Short-term and Long-term conditions must be evaluated. TxDOT TCP values are useful in identifying soft or weak soils.

Carefully evaluate placing a wall on a slope. May be false economy.

TxDOT GEOTECHNICAL BRANCH ACTION

Placed Retaining Wall Recommendations on the Bridge Division Technical Services web page Presented a Retaining Wall Workshop course to various Districts

DESIGN DEFICIENCY: GABION WALL USED AS BANK PROTECTION BENEATH A BRIDGE

Gabion Wall

GABION WALL

GABION WALL FAILURE

CAUSE OF FAILURE

CAUSE OF FAILURE

LESSONS LEARNED
The Gabion Wall:
restricted the natural width of the channel. formed around the drilled shafts for the interior bent. was placed at existing grade and did not take into account any erosion at the toe.

The constricted channel eroded the material at the toe of the gabions and caused them to settle/rotate. The rotation of the gabion wall took down the drilled shafts and caused the bridge to fail.

TxDOT GEOTECHNICAL BRANCH ACTION


Several talks have been given to address channel bank protection guidelines

CONSTRUCTION/INSPECTION PROBLEMS
MSE WALL CONSTRUCTION U-TURN LANE SOIL NAIL WALL CONSTRUCTION

CONSTRUCTION/INSPECTION PROBLEM: MSE WALL CONSTRUCTION

MSE BACKFILL
1993 Backfill Specifications Type B gradation Sieve Size Percent Passing 6 in 100 3 in 75 - 100 No. 200 0 -15 * * In some cases can go as high as 25 Backfill for MSE walls shall be free from organic or otherwise deleterious materials.

MSE WALL FAILURE

MSE WALL FAILURE

CAUSE OF FAILURE
1993 Backfill Specifications Type B gradation Sieve Size Percent Passing 6 in 100 3 in 75 - 100 No. 200 0 -15 * * In some cases can go as high as 25 Backfill for MSE walls shall be free from organic or otherwise deleterious materials. Backfill Properties: - Bimodal grain size distribution - Numerous voids are present - Not sound - breaks down under compaction and with water - Not free draining - retains water. Contractor Supplied Sample Backfill tested with dry sieve passed (100 % passing 3 inch, 1% fines). Sample from Stockpile Backfill tested with wet sieve failed (69.6 % passing 3 inch, 37% fines)

LESSONS LEARNED
Gradation of the backfill significantly affects the performance of MSE walls. Backfill should be tested from an onsite stockpile and should use a wet sieve method to determine percentage of fines. Backfill should not break down under compaction or in the presence of water. Backfills with significant fine material: have lower drained shear strength larger lateral earth pressures retains water and allows pore pressures to build up can undergo large settlements.

TxDOT GEOTECHNICAL BRANCH ACTION


Placed Retaining Wall Recommendations on the Bridge Division Technical Services web page Presented a Retaining Wall Workshop course to various Districts Updated Item 423 Retaining Walls in 2004 TxDOT Specifications book

CONSTRUCTION/INSPECTION PROBLEM: U-TURN LANE SOIL NAIL WALL CONSTRUCTION

SOIL NAIL WALL FAILURE

SOIL NAIL WALL FAILURE

SOIL NAIL PULLOUT

Pullout = soil*L*(*D) If L or D change then so does the Pullout value.

CAUSE OF FAILURE

Pullout = soil*L*(*D) due to voids L and D << Design Condition

Inadequate grouting led to pullout failure of the nails and wall collapse! Soil nails were tested for pullout nearly every nail failed

LESSONS LEARNED
Poor construction led to the failure of the soil nail wall. Inadequate grouting of the soil nails created voids, which decreased the pullout capacity of the nails and caused wall failure.

TxDOT GEOTECHNICAL BRANCH ACTION


Presented Soil Nail Wall Construction Course to various Districts
SOIL NAIL WALL CONSTRUCTION AND STABILITY ISSUES TxDOT Bridge Division Geotechnical Branch

Updated the Soil Nail Anchor Special Specification

Geotechnical Branch assists Districts with soil nail installation and testing

CONCLUSIONS
TxDOT utilizes a variety of retaining wall types. In spite of the increased usage and the diversity of the retaining wall types used, TxDOT has had relatively few retaining wall failures. The retaining wall failures can be categorized into two different types: design deficiencies and construction/inspection problems. TxDOT has reviewed and analyzed the failures to better understand why they occurred and what caused them. The lessons learned from the failures have helped TxDOT to formulate corrective actions (workshops, presentations, updated specifications, etc.) to help prevent future failures.

QUESTIONS?

RETAINING WALLS ON SLOPE REPAIR

GABION WALL REPAIR

1993 Type A 1993 Type B (modified)

RETAINING WALLS ON SLOPES

Detail Analysis
Slope stability (FS 1.3)
PCSTABL/WinSTABL UTEXAS RSS/RESSA

Bearing capacity (FS 2.0) Settlement ( less than 5/12in TCP)

GABION WALL

MSE BACKFILL