You are on page 1of 5

Point of View

These columns of ICJ offer an opportunity to the

engineering fraternity to express their views on the
current practices in design, construction and
management being followed in the industry.
To share your opinion with our readers, you may send
in your inputs in about 1500 words via E-mail to

Review of design of reinforced earth

retaining walls for flyovers

R.R. Chonkar

Among several innovative construction tech- other polymeric. The Terre Armee Interna- provide steeper slopes than would other-
niques, new materials of constructions and tional – (group TAI) is credited with the wise be possible. It involves use of a range
new technologies adopted in the construc- invention and development of reinforced of reinforcements; such as metallic strips,
tion of flyovers in Mumbai by Maharashtra earth technology and carried out their first bars, grids, meshes, sheets, etc embedded
State Road Development Corporation major work as early as 1968 and are since in the well compacted fill behind, Fig 1.
(MSRDC), the reinforced earth technique then the holders of the patent filed by Henri
has definitely proved the advantages of this Vidal, the inventor of the reinforced earth The grids or meshes are either anchored
technology over conventional reinforced technique. In India Aimil Ltd are the licen-
concrete (RC) retaining walls both in terms sees of this technol-
of saving foundation cost, working space ogy and have ex-
and time. ecuted the first re-
inforced earth re-
The reinforced earth technology is in use taining wall at the
in the west, especially in Great Britain and Jammu arterial ex-
France, for the last 35 years or so. British pressway and
Standards Institute and French Standards since then success-
have also come out with codes of practice fully carried out re-
covering this technique containing inforced earth re-
guidelines and recommendations for design taining walls for
and construction of reinforced earth the ramps of a
technique, vide BS 8006:1995 and NF P 94- couple of flyovers
220, in 1992. The Indian Roads Congress - recently con-
Highway Research Board, published a structed.
Special Report No. 16 (SR-16) “State-of-
the-art reinforced soil structures applicable Soil retaining
to road design and construction” in 1996. technique has sev-
The Department of Transport, UK, has also eral applications
published the recommended design criteria like simple retain-
in the Technical Memorandum (BR) BE-3/78. ing walls, abut-
ment for bridges,
Background high embankment,
slope stabilisation,
Basically, there are two commonly used re-
etc. It basically in-
inforcing materials: one metallic, and the
volves incorporat-
ing reinforcement
Fig 1 A typical cross section of a reinforced earth retaining
Mr R.R. Chonkar, Consulting Engineer, Mumbai. in earth / fills to

782 The Indian Concrete Journal * December 2001

Point of View

Fig 2 Reinforced earth system with metallic strips, Fig 4 Nehemiah AE wall panels
licencees: Aimil Ltd

in facia panels or wrap around, the latter prepared high adherence galvanised steel Indian counterpart of TAI group then had
especially in case of polymeric strips as reinforcement, Figs 2 and 3. Both no full fledged technical wing conversant
reinforcement. The reinforcement improves these processes use precast panels as facia with reinforced earth wall design and
the behaviour of the fill both at service elements, the shapes being different, Fig 4. therefore the design calculations for their
condition and the failure stage. first work of flyover at Aarey junction on
Design philosophy the western express highway in Mumbai
MSRDC has used both types of was prepared using a computer
reinforcements, that is, metallic and As far as design is concerned both adopt
programme available with their French
polymeric. In India there are two agencies the provisions of BS 8006; adopting limit
counterpart. This was based on the limit
who use metallic reinforcement, namely, state method with partial safety factors and
state design philosophy, confirming to BS
Aimil Ltd in a joint venture with group TAI check for ‘external stability’ and ‘internal
8006. It was therefore required to revise
for reinforced earth technology and MBN stability’. The IRC has not yet revised their
these calculations to suit working stress
anchored earth Ltd of Hyderabad, who are codes to suit limit state method and con-
method and conforming to various practices
representatives of Anchored Earth Sdn Bhd tinues to design roads/ bridge structures
and codes published by Indian Roads
of Malaysia for the Anchored Earth using the working stress method, with the
Congress. This was done by project
technique. The basic difference in these two factor of safety approach; the sample cal-
management consultants (PMC)—
systems is the manner in which the force culations of solved examples presented in
Technogem Consultants, Mumbai, in
exerted by soil is resisted by embedded Special Report No. 16 are based on the
association with engineers of Aimil, India.
reinforcement. working stress method.
While doing this it was necessary to
In the case of anchored earth system MSRDC in their first tenders for flyovers
revise various values of engineering
this is provided by the passive action of in 1997 stipulated that design of reinforced
properties of the soil stipulated in BS:8006
anchors and friction along the perimeter of earthwork shall be in accordance with the
as per the actual material proposed to be
anchor shaft or reinforcement. In reinforced ministry of surface transport (MOST)
used on the work, after carrying out the
earth technology, only friction is taken specifications and guidelines contained in
necessary laboratory tests. This was done
advantage of by providing specially IRC Special Report No. 16. Aimil Ltd, the
after confirming the suitability of source of

Fig 3 Anchored earth system with metallic bars and

anchor blocks, licencees: MBN Anchored Earth Ltd Fig 5 Reinforced earth wall

December 2001 * The Indian Concrete Journal 783

Point of View

Fig 6 Miragrid Fig 8 Jkar modular facia blocks

murum with respect to availability of The scope of work included erection of out test, linearly varying from maximum
quantum and its suitability for reinforced walls, installation of strips using labour and at top to uniform value of tan φ at the
earthwork as stipulated in BS 8006 with machinery, which was provided by the prin- critical depth of 6 m. The maximum value
respect to electrical resistivity, grading, etc. cipal contractors, Simplex Concrete Piles of friction between high adherence strips
(I) Ltd, and day-to-day supervision of the and backfill soil as given in French
Metallic reinforcement work of backfilling and compaction carried Standards NF P 94 – 220 and incorporated
out by other agencies. in SR – 16 is
The metallic reinforcement was supplied
by Aimil which was manufactured in India Besides a change in the design µ* = 1.2 + log Cu
(as per their parent firm as patented). Gal- philosophy, MSRDC stipulated loading
vanised high adherence carbon steel strips confirming to IRC Codes, that is, 1.2-m high where,
of 140 micron, 40 mm x 5 mm, in class 2 live load surcharge effect, provision of crash
steel as per IS : 1875, with minimum ulti- barriers as per type P6; design life of 120 C u = (D60/D10) = Coefficient of
mate tensile strength (UTS) of 490 N/mm2 years; minimum depth of foundation of homogeneity of back fill material which is 2
were supplied. For facia panels Aimil sup- 1000 mm below ground level; zinc (minimum) as required for soil to be
plied samples of forms adopted by them in galvanised with 1000 g / m2. The external suitable for reinforced earth walls.
their work at Jammu. Additional forms and internal stability should yield
were prepared after carrying out some The documentary evidence of the above
minimum factor of safety of 1.5 under
modifications in front appearance and panel assumption was considered as not
service condition.
casting was done by Aimil through sufficient. Moreover, Aimil had not carried
Prestressing Corporation of India, factory During scrutiny it was revealed that the out any pull-out test either in the field or
at Kalamboli (near Panvel about 30 km value of µ, the coefficient of friction between laboratory in India as stipulated in BS-8006.
away from the work site). The various fas- the fill and high adherence strips, adopted Results of pull out tests carried out by Aimil
teners required to be embedded in facia by Aimil, took into consideration interaction outside India were not accepted by PMC
panels, joint materials like EPDM pads, coefficient relating to soil / reinforcement who insisted on restricting the value of
foam strips, etc. were supplied by Aimil. bond angle (BS 8006) obtained from pull- µ = tan δ, where δ is angle of friction between

Fig 7 Tensar geogrid Fig 9 Reinforced wall construction for Kalamboli flyover

784 The Indian Concrete Journal * December 2001

Point of View

the reinforcement material and the soil. As of passive pressure; the one stipulated in head;
per practice, the value of δ is restricted to equation vide clause of BS 8006 :
σ vj = vertical applied pressure
2/3 φ, the angle of internal friction of the 1995 which is reproduced below.
at the jth layer of anchors;
soil. The variation between the µ value at
top and critical depth was accepted. Anchored earth: There are a variety of differ- Lej = length of the anchor shaft
Observations have indicated that earth ent anchored earth systems. The tensile beyond the potential
pressure near the top is pressure at rest forces generated in the anchor should be failure plane.
because compaction at top is more effective. calculated in accordance with a
Grouted anchor elements should be
The maximum and minimum value of µ Local stability in terms of rupture should
treated as ground anchors and the ultimate
was assumed as equal to tan (2/3 φa) and be considered in accordance with clause
pull-out resistance should be determined
tan (2/3 φc), where φa is peak value and or a The pull-out capac-
from the relations given in BS 8081.
φc is critical value of angle of internal ity of anchor reinforcing elements to satisfy
friction. The engineers from Aimil accepted local stability consideration is:
Polymeric reinforcement
this argument and allowed the PMC to
revise the design accordingly. Not only the French, but the department of
³Tj transport, U.K.- BE 3/78 accepted the use
This issue was further discussed at large f p fn of geo-textile as reinforcement in soil rein-
in the open forum of the national workshop where, forced structures. The IRC SR-16 and stand-
held in Mumbai on “Reinforced soil retaining ard specifications for road/bridges allow
walls” in November 19981. However, no P uj = ultimate pull-out use of geo-textile made from synthetic poly-
definite conclusion was arrived at. resistance of the anchor mers using polyethylene, polyamides, poly-
ƒ p = partial factor for ester, polypropylene; woven, non-woven or
Aimil reinforced earth walls are not reinforcement pull-out extruded bi-axial or uni-axial grids, sheets,
provided with separate filter media behind resistance, see Table 16 etc, for reinforced fill/soil walls.
the facia. Large gaps remain between
panels because of the provision of bearing ƒ n = partial factor applied to MSRDC has used all the above types of
pads, for horizontal joints between panels, economic ramifications of geo-textile as reinforcement for retaining
made of elastomer with vulcanised EPDM. failure, see Table 3; walls along flyover ramps and even behind
These gaps are closed using flexible open Tj = maximum value of the jth abutment piers, though load bearing
cell polyurethane foam strips or non-woven level of reinforcement abutment proper have not so far been tried
fabric strips. MSRDC raised this issue in from clause using this technology. As of today geogrids
the national seminar and called for suitable for reinforced soil are not
The ultimate pull-out resistance of an manufactured in India; most of geo-textiles
discussion. The general consensus was in
anchor element in the jth layer may be and geogrids used so far in civil engineering
favour of providing minimum 600 mm
determined from : works like Kologrid, Miragrid, Fortrac or
thick filter media of graded aggregate
between facia panels and back fill with Tensar are imported from abroad. All these
P uj = Psj + Paj
perforated PVC pipe of 200 mm diameter varieties have been used in flyover ramps
covered with non-woven geotextile at P sj = 2µBssvjLej or reinforced walls, Figs 6 and 7.
bottom, to drain out water collected from Paj = 4 KpBataσ vj
backfill, though this entailed extra cost. Differences
where, The design method and approach remain
The reinforced earth walls so far the same as for metallic reinforcement with
constructed using this patented process P sj = shaft or loop resistance
developed by friction regards to check for external stability and
have behaved satisfactorily and no internal stability for pull-out and tension.
noticeable distress has been observed when beyond the potential
failure plane, at the jth Most of the soil reinforcement wall so far
inspected two years later, Fig 5. constructed using geosynthetics have used
layer of anchors;
concrete precast blocks as facia element,
Anchored earth system Paj = bearing resistance at the Fig 8.
th layer of anchors;
MBN anchored earth system has also been j

tried for flyovers constructed in Mumbai µ = coefficient of soil / Precast panels have been used
and Hyderabad. There is no much differ- reinforcement friction and exceptionally in the case of reinforced wall
ence in design involving checks for external is determined according constructed for Kalamboli flyover between
and internal stability. The point of argu- to the relationship given in flyover proper and road over bridge. The
ment is whether friction capacity can be clause; height of this wall is more than 10 m,
considered to co-existent with anchorage Fig 9.
B s = long term horizontal
capacity, as friction more or less reduces projection area of shaft or Unlike metallic reinforcement, which is
after movement of strip and later needs loop; inextensible with very low strain value (less
large movement of anchor blocks to gener-
Kp = horizontal passive earth than one percent as per BS 8006), polymeric
ate the design being based on failure condi-
pressure coefficient; reinforcement has high strains greater than
tion. Recent specifications and design chap-
one percent reaching peak value as high as
ter now under consideration with MSRDC Ba = long term width of anchor 15 percent including creep effect under
have modified these provisions of BS 8006. head; maximum stress. Moreover, the creep value
The other provision of BS-8006 not consist-
ta = long term height of anchor of polypropylene and polyethylene grids are
ent with classical theory is ultimate value

December 2001 * The Indian Concrete Journal 785

Point of View

higher. Both the strain and creep values are rainfall and intensity of rainfall is high and locally manufactured machines were
time dependent and also depend upon the backfill material not consistent, the design extensively used which gives rise to large
temperature of the fill material. The use of using geogrid as reinforcement has to have number of rejections of precast blocks
geosynthetics for civil engineering purpose, an extra factor of safety. hampering the time schedule of work. The
particularly for soil reinforcement is of skilled labour required for block work is
recent origin. The long term effects of stress, The main drawback experienced in the also more when compared to cranes used
temperature, creep, etc, are extrapolated use of geogrid is that there are no accredited for errection of facia panels, which gives
values from short term tests and therefore laboratories in India where one can carry rise to inconsistency in work with respect to
have to be cautiously used with appropriate out even a simple tensile strength test, leave finish, workmanship and output.
values of partial safety factors. alone creep or long term strength values
and isochronous curves, damage factor, Conclusion
The environmental effects, biological u-v effect, chemical effects, biological
effects, fill material, damage factor, effect effects etc. The designer therefore has to Mere short-term performance for a couple
of construction method, joint efficiency, etc, rely on manufacturers’ literature and accept of years is not sufficient to infuse confi-
are all based on western conditions and the values, tested either in their laboratories dence in the minds of engineers in India
western practice of quality assurance or internationally accredited laboratories and till we observe the performance of walls
schemes, which are definitely different from under western conditions and for at least 10 years or so (design life being
Indian conditions with respect to material, workmanship. 120 years), we have to be careful in design
labour and quality control. Therefore the and should be extra cautious in selecting
values suggested by manufacturers need Since the number of segment for facia partial safety factors, load factors and fac-
to be vetted properly before using the same are large, in case of precast blocks, tors of safety.
in our designs. Some of the initially compared to panels, it is very difficult to
constructed reinforced walls using geogrids obtain consistent results with respect to References
have behaved differently from what was finish, strength, colour and sharpness, and 1. ______National workshop on "Reinforced soil
to maintain time schedule. The imported retaining walls", Mumbai, November 1998,
expected during design. Especially in
Indian Institution of Bridge Engineers.
Mumbai and coastal regions where total block making machines being very few,

786 The Indian Concrete Journal * December 2001