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Concrete Repair, Rehabilitation and Retrofitting II Alexander et al (eds)

2 0 0 9 T ay lor & F rancis G rou p, L ondon, IS B N 9 7 8 -0 -4 1 5 -4 6 8 5 0 -3

M ountainpassslopefailureretrofi

South African National Road Agency Limited, Pretoria, South Africa

A.Newmark& M .Smut
BKS Engineering & Management, Cape Town, South Africa

ABSTRACT: TheGarden Route,amajortouristattraction and nationalroad on thesouth coastofSouth

Africa,experiencedabnormall yhighrainfallinAugust2006.A majorslipfailureoccurredinoneoftheroad
ings,whichseverel ydamagedtheroadway.TheSouthAfricanNationalRoadAgencyLimited(SANRAL)
immediatelytookmeasurest orestorethisvitalroadwaylink.Severalpreliminarydesignconceptswereconsid-
eredandamodifiedversionofatiedpileanchorwallwasfinall ydecidedupon.Thiswasconsideredtoprovi de
theoptimum sol ution,consideri
ng interaction with theadjacentroad formation and thebedrock profile.The
new viaductissupportedonei ght1200 mm diameterreinforcedconcreteoscillatorboredpilesapproximatel y
14m long socket ed into competentrock.Thesuperstructurecomprisesa7 m wide,60 m long cantilevered
deckthatiscounterbal ancedbyanintegratedburiedjockeyslab.Thestructureisanchoredwithre-stressable

1 BACKGROUND Pass,resulted in a slip failure which severely dam-

The Garden Route,one ofthe main touristattrac- The firstevidence ofthisfailure wasa crack of
tionsonthesout hcoastofSout hAfrica,experienced about80 m in length which developed in oneoft he
abnormall y high rainfallduring August2006.This lanes.W ithin days,the road formation had sagged
route formsthe main nationaleconomic arterialon morethan 0, 4m,signalling dangerousinstability of
thesouthernsideofthecountry,servingheavytrans- the underl ying formation.The road was closed for
portcarri ersandcommuters.Thesteepmountainous severaldays while specialists assessed the damage
topography i nt his region has resulted in very few andtheintegrityoftheexistingstructures,andmoni-
alternativerout esbeing availableand thosethatcan toredthesubsidingfill.Thishadveryseriousimpli-
beusedareofasubst antiall
ylowerstandardwithsev- cationsfortheGardenRoutetowns,especiall yfort he
eralhoursofadditi onaltraveltime. commuterswhohadtotraveltotheirplacesofwork
In thisspecific area the nationalroad iscutinto onadail ybasis.
theveryst eeptalusandrockslopesoftheKaaimans The clientimmediatel y stepped in to restore this
formations.Theregi onalfoliationisverywelldevel- vitallink and appointed consulting engineers who
oped and iscoinci dentalwi th thebedding,i. e.30 to had experienced geotechnicaland bridge engineer-
40 degreestothesouth-east(awayfrom themountain ing staff immediatel y available. Based on avail-
side).Thisgeologicalprofilehasresulted in various ableknowledgefrom historicalrecordsand detailed
const ruction and mai ntenance difficulties over the siteobservations,therisk related to furtherdamage
yearsandthenatureofthet errainhasnecessitatedthe becameknownandfirstonelaneandthentwoofthe
constructionofseveralhalf-viaducttypestructureson originalthreelaneswerereopened,partiall yrestoring
thisroute to accommodate t he required road cross- thelink.Thecompletereconstruction had to happen
sectionadj acentt othesteepslopes. intheshortestpossibletimeandtheconsultantwere
Thecombi nationoft heheavydownpoursandthe instructedtoprogram theirdesignanddocumentation
unfavourable angle ofdip oft he rock formation in activitiestoensurethattendersforconstructioncould
oneoftheroad cuttings,known asKaaimansRi ver beinvitedwithinfi veweeks.

Figure 1. Aerial view of failed slope area.
assessment of safety of these structures also formed
part of the consultants brief and in addition, record
drawings of the existing structures provided valu-
able initial information that enabled the development
of preliminary concepts by the project team. Initial
investigations and a desktop study of available infor-
mation and requirements of the client consisted of:
At least two traffic lanes (one in each direction) had
to be maintained during all construction stages.
The angle of the dip of the rock formation was
away from the mountain side at angle of 30 to
40 degrees.
The weathered rock face on the outside of the slope
under the talus could be as steep as 70 degrees
depending on the local geotechnical profiles.
Significant variations in founding depths could be
Figure 2. Failure crack with subsidence clearly evident. experienced considering the nature of the rock and
extensive weathering observed.
Any future risks which could result in future slope
2 OVERVIEW OFCONCEPTUAL failures in this area that could impact on the stabil-
ALTERNATIVES ity of the roadway had to be minimized.
Repair options would have to be combined with
An extensive information gathering exercise, topo- rock anchor and/or soil nailing systems.
graphical surveys and subsurface investigation were Considering the weathered fractured and jointed
immediately commissioned in order to establish rock, profile piling would have to be done by using
the nature of the underground strata. There are two large diameter (1000 to 1200 mm) oscillator piles.
existing half-viaduct type bridge structures in the Their ability to penetrate through rock and boulder
immediate vicinity of the failure zone to the western formations and to socket into bedrock was essential
and eastern sides of the new viaduct location. The in this application.

The interaction of the roadway and possible adjacent The second design concept involved a more
structure had to be carefully assessed to limit future conventional retaining structure. This comprised of a tied
maintenance activities. mechanically stabilized embankment, constructed by
excavating to a sound founding level and the construc-
Three design concepts were selected and further
tion of a stabilized earth type backfill on an anchored-
developed by the consultants bridge specialists, Abe
back reinforced concrete footing as shown in Figure 4.
Newmark and Martin Smuts and the clients Edwin
This approach was more suited to flatter rock dip
Kruger. Ron Tluczek, the consultants geotechnical
angles and rock face profiles as detailed in Figure 4.
specialist, who had been involved in some of the pre-
Dependent on the outcome of the detailed geotechnical
vious structures on this section of the route, provided
investigation, it was considered possible to construct
critical geotechnical input.
this option without the temporary soil nail structure,
In view of initial lack of geotechnical data, vari-
in view of the reduced work space requirements.
ous rock dip angles were postulated to fast-track the
The third concept comprised a half-width viaduct
assessment of these design concepts in terms of suit-
bridge structure as shown in Figure 5.
ability and cost. From the discussion below it will
Similar to the first option, a soil nail structure
be evident that not all the concepts were suitable for
(permanent in this instance) would be constructed
some of the steep dip angles that were postulated.
adjacent to the road centre line to provide space for
This approach assisted in meeting the clients time
two-way traffic and a working platform to erect con-
ventional piers. Longitudinal precast beams supported
The first design concept comprised a tied pile
on the pier caps and abutments would carry the via-
anchor wall and reinforced concrete cantilever shown
duct deck. The pier footings would be anchored back
in Figure 3.
by means of rock anchors. This concept was similar
The construction procedure for this concept involved
to the existing half viaduct structures in the vicinity.
the excavation to a suitable work platform by stabilizing
the existing roadway with a temporary soil nail struc-
ture to ensure accommodation of two-way traffic dur-
ing construction. This technique would allow space for
a working platform to be created to drive oscillator piles
to support a quarter roadway-width cantilever structure.
It was envisaged that the horizontal stability of the piles
would be secured by sloped rock anchors in this instance.
The main advantage of this concept was the minimiza-
tion of the risk as a result of the stabilizing effect of mul-
tiple anchored pile shafts in the rock formation.
In addition, the substantial lateral force component
minimized relevant movement between the roadway
and reinforced concrete elements of the structure.
This concept was also suited to all the various rock
dip angles that were postulated.
Figure 4. Mechanically stabilized embankment concept.

Figure 3. Tied pile anchor wall concept. Figure 5. Half viaduct bridge concept.

The interaction of this structure with the adjacent
embankment would require the provision of a lon-
gitudinal joint with resulting long-term maintenance


The selection of the most suitable option relied

heavily on the geotechnical findings of an exten-
sive drilling program undertaken to investigate the
competency of the underlying rock substrata. 80 mm
diamond rotary core drilling was drilled in a grid pat-
tern on three parallel lines to the outside of the road
centre line to cover the complete failure zone to a
depth of up to 16 m. The profiles varied from initial
imported material at varying depths from 1,5 m up to
4,0 m, which was initially underlain by a layer of soft
material and bedrock at depth. An important char-
acteristic of the rock was that it was highly jointed
and that the degree of weathering from highly weath-
ered to unweathered and back to highly weathered
zones was intermittent and inconsistent with depth.
This characteristic was attributed to decomposition
seams on foliation joint planes which were found
to be completely weathered in many instances and
exacerbated the concerns regarding future failures.
Figure 6. Final design concept.
The general angle of dip was found to be of the order
of 30 to 40 degrees and at a depth in excess of 12 m,
a marked improvement in the rock mass quality
was observed. A significant difference in the depth of 14 m and are socketed 4 m into competent rock.
to bedrock was noted between the outer and inner The superstructure comprises a 7 m wide, cantilev-
boreholes. ered reinforced concrete deck which spans between
The main geotechnical factor that influenced the the piles and has an overall length of 60 m. A novel
choice of the final concept was that the steep angle feature is the counterbalancing of the cantilever with
of dip and highly weathered jointing could result in an integrated buried jockey slab which eliminated
a possible block/wedge failure. This would signifi- a problematic longitudinal joint and also reduced
cantly enhance the risk associated with founding at deck torsion and bending effects on the piles due
isolated locations with a pier type structure in a local to eccentric traffic loading. This not only removed
contact zone. The second concept of a mechanically fill material, but also ensured that all road loading
stabilized type of retaining wall was also rejected was transferred to bedrock via the structure and
as unsuitable due to the possibility of future wedge piles and not via any fill material. The structure is
or slip failures that could possibly occur under such anchored laterally with re-stressable rock anchors to
a wall. ensure the stability of the structure and rock forma-
After due consideration of the alternatives, a modi- tion. Two anchors are provided between each of the
fied version of the first concept was finally adopted. pile locations at third points of the spans. The anchor
The final proposal as described below was considered forces are distributed to the pile caps by means of
to provide the optimum solution considering interac- the horizontal deck beam which is integrated with
tion with the adjacent road formation and the bedrock the cladding. The re-stressable anchors are located
profile. in concrete chambers for future accessibility. These
The new half viaduct known as bridge B0015 as chambers can be seen on a photo of the completed
shown in Figure 6, which was completed in Novem- structure in Figure 7. In order to minimize vertical
ber 2007, is supported on eight 1200 mm diameter movement between the roadway layer works and
reinforced concrete oscillator bored piles spaced at structure, the jockey slab is also tied down onto rock
8 m centres. The piles have a total average length with vertical rock bolts.

Figure 7. Completed structure.

4 CONSTRUCTION ASPECTS Since this activity was on the critical path of the con-
tract, it resulted in a delay of completion.
The eight month construction period commenced in The concrete mix design was specified and care-
January 2007 and the travelling public was relatively fully monitored in view of the aggressive environment
unaffected except for the restricted lane width. The that the structure was located in. The cementitious
construction proceeded largely as planned and the binder consisted of a blend of Ordinary Portland
following aspects are considered worth noting: Cement and Corex slag, with enhanced durability
Prospective contractors, at time of tender, expressed properties and resistance to the ingress of chlorides.
some concern regarding construction activities on the The mix design, mixing, placement and compaction
partially failed slope area. It was however concluded was monitored by means of on site testing which was
that, as a result of the various investigations, the area performed on cube samples and cores extracted from
was safe for earthmoving machinery and personnel, but the structure.
that the situation would require constant monitoring
during construction. The successful contractor provided
a practical and efficient monitoring system. Based on 5 CONCLUSION
these readings and possible adverse weather conditions
such as heavy rainfall, the consultant was given the On completion, the portion of the road that once seemed
option to instruct the contractor to vacate the area. destined to slide into the Kaaimans River now has four
A contractual requirement required that none of permanent lanes. Post completion inspections con-
the temporary works related to the structure, such as cluded that the design objectives had been attained.
piling platforms, formwork for reinforced concrete The project provided the structural and geotechni-
elements, etc. were to be supported on the failed area. cal engineers with not only a challenging problem, but
After extensive monitoring and having recorded vir- also an opportunity to practice their art by restoring a
tually no further signs of further slope movement, vital transportation link and thus enhancing the lives
some variations from the original requirements were of the people and towns to whom this road serves as
allowed and some temporary support structures were an economic lifeline.
founded on the risk areas. The cost implication of this
risk was accepted by the contractor as his own. For-
tunately, the construction was completed without any ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
further slope failures.
Unforeseen delays that were experienced during The client has kindly granted permission to publish
construction mainly related to the piling process which this paper. Vusela Construction is acknowledged as
proceeded substantially slower than anticipated. This the main contractor and Franki Africa as specialist
was mainly related to the limited work space, variable geotechnical subcontractor. Solid State Safety Con-
rock quality and the downslope dip of the rock strata. sultants performed safety audits.