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U.S. Department of Transportation Publication No.

FHWA NHI-07-092
Federal Highway Administration August 2008

NHI Course No. 132013____________________________


Geosynthetic Design & Construction Guidelines
Reference Manual

National Highway Institute


NOTICE

The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the
facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily
reflect policy of the Department of Transportation. This report does not constitute a
standard, specification, or regulation. The United States Government does not endorse
products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturer's names appear herein only
because they are considered essential to the objective of this document.
Technical Report Documentation Page
1. REPORT NO. 2. GOVERNMENT 3. RECIPIENT'S CATALOG NO.
FHWA-NHI-07-092 ACCESSION NO.

4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE 5. REPORT DATE


Geosynthetic Design and August 2008
Construction Guidelines 6. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION CODE

7. AUTHOR(S) 8. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION REPORT NO.


Robert D. Holtz, Ph.D., P.E., Barry R.
Christopher, Ph.D., P.E. and Ryan R. Berg, P.E.
9. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME AND ADDRESS 10. WORK UNIT NO.
Ryan R. Berg & Associates, Inc. 11. CONTRACT OR GRANT NO.
2190 Leyland Alcove DTFH61-02-T-63036
Woodbury, MN 55125
12. SPONSORING AGENCY NAME AND ADDRESS 13. TYPE OF REPORT & PERIOD COVERED
National Highway Institute
Federal Highway Administration 14. SPONSORING AGENCY CODE
U.S. Department of Transportation
Washington, D.C.

15. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES


FHWA COTR – Larry Jones
FHWA Technical Consultants: Jerry A. DiMaggio, P.E. and Daniel Alzamora, P.E.
This manual is the updated version of FHWA HI-95-038 (updated 1998) prepared by Ryan R. Berg & Associates,
Inc.; authored by R.D. Holtz, B.R. Christopher and R.R. Berg.

16. ABSTRACT This manual is an updated version of the FHWA Reference Manual for the National
Highway Institute’s training courses on geosynthetic design and construction. The update was
performed to reflect current practice and codes for geosynthetics in highway works. The manual was
prepared to enable the Highway Engineer to correctly identify and evaluate potential applications of
geosynthetics as alternatives to other construction methods and as a means to solve construction
problems. With the aid of this text, the Highway Engineer should be able to properly design, select,
test, specify, and construct with geotextiles, geocomposite drains, geogrids and related materials in
drainage, sediment control, erosion control, roadway, and embankment of soft soil applications.
Steepened reinforced soil slopes and MSE retaining wall applications are also addressed within, but
designers are referred to the more detailed FHWA NHI-00-043 reference manual on these subjects.
This manual is directed toward geotechnical, hydraulic, pavement, bridge and structures, construction,
maintenance, and route layout highway engineers, and construction inspectors and technicians
involved with design and/or construction and/or maintenance of transportation facilities that
incorporate earthwork.
17. KEY WORDS geosynthetics, geotextiles, 18. DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT
geogrids, geomembranes, geocomposites,
roadway design, filters, drains, erosion control,
No restrictions.
sediment control, separation, embankments, soil
reinforcement

19. SECURITY CLASSIF. 20. SECURITY CLASSIF. 21. NO. OF PAGES 22. PRICE
Unclassified Unclassified 592
SI CONVERSION FACTORS
APPROXIMATE CONVERSIONS FROM SI UNITS
When You
Symbol Multiply By To Find Symbol
Know
LENGTH
mm millimeters 0.039 inches in
m meters 3.28 feet ft
m meters 1.09 yards yd
km kilometers 0.621 miles mi
AREA
mm2 square millimeters 0.0016 square inches in2
m2 square meters 10.764 square feet ft2
m2 square meters 1.195 square yards yd2
ha hectares 2.47 acres ac
km2 square kilometers 0.386 square miles mi2
VOLUME
ml millimeters 0.034 fluid ounces fl oz
l liters 0.264 gallons gal
m3 cubic meters 35.71 cubic feet ft3
m3 cubic meters 1.307 cubic yards yd3
MASS
g grams 0.035 ounces oz
kg kilograms 2.202 pounds lb
tonnes tonnes 1.103 tons tons
TEMPERATURE
EC Celsius 1.8 C + 32 Fahrenheit EF
WEIGHT DENSITY
kilonewton / cubic
kN/m3 6.36 poundforce / cubic foot pcf
meter
FORCE and PRESSURE or STRESS
N newtons 0.225 poundforce lbf
kN kilonewtons 225 poundforce lbf
kPa kilopascals 0.145 poundforce / square inch psi
kPa kilopascals 20.9 poundforce / square foot psf
PREFACE

The 2007 update to the Geosynthetic Design & Construction Guidelines manual was initiated
to reflect the following recent publications:
• AASHTO Standard Specifications for Geotextiles — M 288; AASHTO, Standard
Specifications for Geotextiles - M 288, Standard Specifications for Transportation
Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing, 26th Edition, American Association
of State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington, D.C., 2006.
• AASHTO, Geosynthetic Reinforcement of the Aggregate Base Course of Flexible
Pavement Structures – PP 46-0, Standard Specifications for Transportation Materials
and Methods of Sampling and Testing, 26th Edition, and Provisional Standards,
American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington,
D.C., 2006.
• Ground Improvement Methods, FHWA NHI-06-019 Volume I and FHWA NHI-06-
020 Volume II, 2006;
• Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements, FHWA-NHI-05-037, 2006;
• Development of Design Methods for Geosynthetic Reinforced Flexible Pavements,
FHWA DTFH61-01-X-00068, May 2004, 263p.;
Available at: http://www.coe.montana.edu/wti/wti/pdf/426202_Final_Report.pdf
• NCHRP 1-37A Design Guide (2002). 2002 Design Guide – Design of New and
Rehabilitated Pavement Structures, Draft Final Report, Part 1 – Introduction and Part
2 – Design Inputs, Prepared for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program
by ERES Division of ARA.
• AASHTO Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges, Seventeenth Edition, 2002;
• Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls and Reinforced Soil Slopes Design and
Construction Guidelines, FHWA NHI-00-043, March 2001;
• Corrosion/Degradation of Soil Reinforcements for Mechanically Stabilized Earth
Walls and Reinforced Soil Slopes, FHWA NHI-00-044, March 2001;
• Geosynthetic Reinforcement of the Aggregate Base/Subbase Courses of Pavement
Structures B GMA White Paper II, Geosynthetic Materials Association, Roseville,
MN, 2000, 176 p.; and
• Geosynthetics in Pavement Systems Applications, Section One: Geogrids, Section
Two: Geotextiles, prepared for AASHTO, Geosynthetics Materials Association,
Roseville, MN, 1999, 46 p.

FHWA NHI-07-092
Geosynthetics Engineering i-1 August 2008
The 2007 revised Geosynthetic Design & Construction Guidelines manual evolved from the
following FHWA manuals:
• Geosynthetic Design & Construction Guidelines by Robert D. Holtz, Barry R.
Christopher, and Ryan R. Berg; Ryan R. Berg & Associates, Inc., FHWA HI-95-038;
1995 and updated in 1998; 460 p.
• Geotextile Design & Construction Guidelines - Participant Notebook by Barry R.
Christopher and Robert D. Holtz; STS Consultants, Northbrook, Illinois, and
GeoServices, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida; October 1988 and selectively updated to
April 1992.
• Geotextile Engineering Manual by Barry R. Christopher and Robert D. Holtz; STS
Consultants, Northbrook, Illinois; March, 1985; 917 p.
• Use of Engineering Fabrics in Transportation Type Related Applications by T. Allan
Haliburton, J.D. Lawmaster, and Verne C. McGuffey; 1981.
• Guidelines for Design, Specification, and Contracting of Geosynthetic Mechanically
Stabilized Earth Slopes on Firm Foundations; by Ryan R. Berg; Ryan R. Berg &
Associates, St. Paul, Minnesota; January, 1993; 88p.
• Reinforced Soil Structures - Volume I, Design and Construction Guidelines, and
Volume II Summary of Research and Systems Information; by B.R. Christopher, S.A.
Gill, J.P. Giroud, J.K. Mitchell, F. Schlosser, and J. Dunnicliff; STS Consultants,
Northbrook, Illinois, November 1990.

Special Acknowledgement

Jerry A. DiMaggio, P.E. is the FHWA Technical Consultant for this work, and served
in the same capacity for most of the above referenced publications. Mr. DiMaggio's
guidance and input to this and the previous works was invaluable.

The Geosynthetics Materials Association (GMA), the North American Geosynthetics


Society (NAGS), and the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) provided support for this
revision. Their support to help initiate and to review this update is gratefully appreciated.

FHWA NHI-07-092
Geosynthetics Engineering i- 2 August 2008
TABLE OF CONTENTS

1.0 INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................... 1-1


1.1 BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................... 1-1
1.2 DEFINITIONS, MANUFACTURING PROCESSES,
AND IDENTIFICATION.................................................................................... 1-2
1.3 FUNCTIONS AND APPLICATIONS .................................................................... 1-5
1.4 DESIGN APPROACH ............................................................................................ 1-9
1.5 EVALUATION OF PROPERTIES......................................................................... 1-9
1.6 SPECIFICATIONS................................................................................................ 1-21
1.7 FIELD INSPECTION............................................................................................ 1-24
1.8 FIELD SEAMING ................................................................................................. 1-24
1.9 REFERENCES ...................................................................................................... 1-29

2.0 GEOSYNTHETICS IN SUBSURFACE DRAINAGE SYSTEMS ................................ 2-1


2.1 BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................... 2-1
2.2 APPLICATIONS ..................................................................................................... 2-2
2.3 GEOTEXILE FILTER DESIGN - PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS .................... 2-4
2.4 FHWA FILTER DESIGN PROCEDURE............................................................... 2-8
2.4-1 Retention Criteria ..................................................................................... 2-8
2.4-2 Permeability and Permittivity Criteria.................................................... 2-10
2.4-3 Clogging Resistance ............................................................................... 2-12
2.4-4 Survivability and Durability Criteria...................................................... 2-15
2.4-5 Additional Filter Selection Considerations and Summary ..................... 2-16
2.5 DRAINAGE SYSTEM DESIGN GUIDELINES ................................................. 2-19
2.6 DESIGN EXAMPLE ............................................................................................. 2-25
2.7 COST CONSIDERATIONS.................................................................................. 2-30
2.8 SPECIFICATIONS ............................................................................................... 2-31
2.9 INSTALLATION PROCEDURES ....................................................................... 2-36
2.10 FIELD INSPECTION........................................................................................... 2-37
2.11 IN-PLANE DRAINAGE; PREFABRICATED
GEOCOMPOSITE DRAINS............................................................................. 2-40
2.11-1 Design and Selection Criteria ............................................................... 2-41
2.11-2 Construction Considerations................................................................. 2-44
2.12 REFERENCES .................................................................................................... 2-45

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3.0 GEOTEXTILES IN RIPRAP REVETMENTS AND
OTHER PERMANENT EROSION CONTROL SYSTEMS .................................... 3-1
3.1 BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................... 3-1
3.2 APPLICATIONS ..................................................................................................... 3-2
3.3 DESIGN OF GEOTEXTILES BENEATH HARD ARMOR AND DESIGN
CONCEPTS ......................................................................................................... 3-4
3.3-1 Retention Criteria for Cyclic or Dynamic Flow ....................................... 3-4
3.3-2 Permeability and Effective Flow Capacity Requirements
for Erosion Control .................................................................................. 3-4
3.3-3 Clogging Resistance for Cyclic or Dynamic Flow and for Problematic
Soils.......................................................................................................... 3-5
3.3-4 Survivability Criteria for Erosion Control................................................ 3-5
3.3-5 Additional Filter Selection Considerations and Summary ....................... 3-6
3.4 GEOTEXTILE DESIGN GUIDELINES ................................................................ 3-9
3.5 GEOTEXTILE DESIGN EXAMPLE ................................................................... 3-15
3.6 GEOTEXTILE COST CONSIDERATIONS ........................................................ 3-20
3.7 GEOTEXTILE SPECIFICATIONS ...................................................................... 3-21
3.8 GEOTEXTILE INSTALLATION PROCEDURES.............................................. 3-27
3.8-1 General Construction Considerations..................................................... 3-27
3.8-2 Cut and Fill Slope Protection.................................................................. 3-30
3.8-3 Streambank Protection............................................................................ 3-34
3.8-4 Precipitation Runoff Collection and Diversion Ditches ......................... 3-35
3.8-5 Wave Protection Revetments.................................................................. 3-36
3.8-6 Scour Protection ..................................................................................... 3-37
3.9 GEOTEXTILE FIELD INSPECTION .................................................................. 3-38
3.10 GEOCELLS ......................................................................................................... 3-38
3.11 EROSION CONTROL MATS ............................................................................ 3-39
3.11-1 Summary of Planning, Design, and Installation ................................... 3-41
3.11-2 Specification .......................................................................................... 3-43
3.12 REFERENCES .................................................................................................... 3-44

4.0 TEMPORARY RUNOFF AND SEDIMENT CONTROL ............................................. 4-1


4.1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................... 4-1
4.2 FUNCTION OF SILT FENCES.............................................................................. 4-3
4.3 DESIGN OF SILT FENCES ................................................................................... 4-4
4.3-1 Estimates of Runoff and Sediment Volumes............................................ 4-5
4.3-2 Hydraulic Design of the Geotextile .......................................................... 4-6
4.3-3 Physical and Mechanical Properties; Constructability Requirements...... 4-7

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4.4 SPECIFICATIONS.................................................................................................. 4-9
4.5 INSTALLATION PROCEDURES ....................................................................... 4-13
4.6 INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE ................................................................ 4-13
4.7 SILT AND TURBIDITY CURTAINS.................................................................. 4-15
4.8 EROSION CONTROL BLANKETS .................................................................... 4-18
4.9 REFERENCES ...................................................................................................... 4-20

5.0 GEOSYNTHETICS IN ROADWAYS AND PAVEMENTS.......................................... 5-1


5.1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................... 5-1
5.2 APPLICABILITY AND BENEFITS OF GEOSYNTHETICS IN ROADWAYS . 5-2
5.2-1 Temporary Roads and Working Platforms............................................... 5-2
5.2-2 Permanent Paved and Unpaved Roads .................................................... 5-3
5.2-3 Subgrade Conditions in which Geosynthetics are Useful ........................ 5-4
5.2-4 Benefits..................................................................................................... 5-6
5.3 ROADWAY DESIGN USING GEOSYNTHETICS .............................................. 5-8
5.3-1 Functions of Geosynthetics in Roadways and Pavements........................ 5-8
5.3-2 Possible Failure Modes of Permanent Roads ......................................... 5-11
5.3-3 Design for Separation ............................................................................. 5-12
5.3-4 Design for Stabilization .......................................................................... 5-13
5.3-5 Reinforced Base/Subbase Design........................................................... 5-15
5.3-6 Material Properties used in Design......................................................... 5-16
5.4 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR USE OF GEOTEXTILES IN TEMPORARY
AND UNPAVED ROADS ................................................................................ 5-21
5.4-1 Temporary Road Design Example ....................................................... 5-27
5.5 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR USE OF GEOGRIDS IN TEMPORARY AND
UNPAVED ROADS.......................................................................................... 5-30
5.5-1 Empirical Design Method: Modified Steward et al............................. 5-30
5.5-2 Empirical Design Method of Giroud and Han...................................... 5-31
5.5-3 Design Example for Geogrid Reinforced Unpaved Road .................... 5-35
5.6 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR USE OF GEOTEXTILES IN PERMANENT
PAVED ROADWAYS ...................................................................................... 5-42
5.6-1 Separation ............................................................................................. 5-42
5.6-2 Stabilization .......................................................................................... 5-42
5.6-3 Permanent Road Subgrade Stabilization Design Example................... 5-45
5.6-4 Improved Drainage ............................................................................... 5-49
5.7 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR USE OF GEOGRIDS IN PERMANENT PAVED
ROADWAYS .................................................................................................... 5-52
5.7-1 Empirical Design Method from AASHTO PP46-01............................ 5-53
5.7-2 Mechanistic-Empirical Approach for Pavement Design ...................... 5-56

FHWA NHI-07-092
Geosynthetics Engineering i-5 August 2008
5.7-3 Design Example for Geogrid Reinforced Paved Roadway .................. 5-58
5.8 INSTALLATION PROCEDURES ....................................................................... 5-64
5.8-1 Roll Placement...................................................................................... 5-64
5.8-2a Geotextile Overlaps .............................................................................. 5-67
5.8-2b Geogrid Overlaps.................................................................................. 5-69
5.8-3 Seams.................................................................................................... 5-70
5.8-4 Field Inspection .................................................................................... 5-70
5.9 SPECIFICATIONS................................................................................................ 5-70
5.9-1 Geotextile for Separation and Stabilization Applications ...................... 5-70
5.9-2 Geogrids for Subgrade Stabilization....................................................... 5-76
5.9-3 Geosynthetics for Base Reinforcement of Pavement Structures ............ 5-80
5.10 COST CONSIDERATIONS................................................................................ 5-85
5.11 REFERENCES .................................................................................................... 5-86

6.0 PAVEMENT OVERLAYS ................................................................................................ 6-1


6.1 BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................... 6-1
6.2 PAVEMENT OVERLAYS AND REFLECTIVE CRACKING............................. 6-1
6.3 GEOTEXTILES....................................................................................................... 6-4
6.3-1 Functions .................................................................................................. 6-4
6.3-2 Asphalt Concrete (AC) Pavement Applications....................................... 6-5
6.3-3 Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Applications.................................. 6-6
6.3-4 HMAC-Overlaid PCC Pavements ............................................................ 6-7
6.3-5 Chip Seals for Unpaved Roads and AC Pavements ................................. 6-8
6.3-6 Advantages and Potential Disadvantages ................................................. 6-8
6.3-7 Design.................................................................................................... 6-10
6.3-8 Geotextile Selection................................................................................ 6-13
6.3-9 Cost Considerations................................................................................ 6-13
6.3-10 Specifications.......................................................................................... 6-16
6.3-11 Field Inspection ...................................................................................... 6-23
6.3-12 Recycling ................................................................................................ 6-23
6.4 GEOGRIDS ........................................................................................................... 6-24
6.4-1 Geogrid Functions .................................................................................. 6-24
6.4-2 Applications............................................................................................ 6-24
6.4-3 Design.................................................................................................... 6-25
6.4-4 Installation ............................................................................................. 6-26
6.4-5 Cost Considerations................................................................................ 6-26
6.4-6 Specifications.......................................................................................... 6-27
6.5 GEOCOMPOSITES .............................................................................................. 6-29
6.5-1 Membrane and Composite Strips ........................................................... 6-29

FHWA NHI-07-092
Geosynthetics Engineering i- 6 August 2008
6.5-2 Specifications.......................................................................................... 6-30
6.6 REFERENCES ...................................................................................................... 6-31

7.0 REINFORCED EMBANKMENTS ON SOFT FOUNDATIONS ................................. 7-1


7.1 BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................... 7-1
7.2 APPLICATIONS ..................................................................................................... 7-2
7.3 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR REINFORCED EMBANKMENTS
ON SOFT SOILS ................................................................................................ 7-3
7.3-1 Design Considerations.............................................................................. 7-3
7.3-2 Design Steps ............................................................................................. 7-5
7.3-3 Comments on the Design Procedure ...................................................... 7-13
7.4 SELECTION OF GEOSYNTHETIC AND FILL PROPERTIES......................... 7-25
7.4-1 Geotextile and Geogrid Strength Requirements..................................... 7-26
7.4-2 Drainage Requirements .......................................................................... 7-28
7.4-3 Environmental Considerations ............................................................... 7-28
7.4-4 Constructability (Survivability) Requirements....................................... 7-28
7.4-5 Stiffness and Workability ....................................................................... 7-31
7.4-6 Fill Considerations.................................................................................. 7-33
7.5 DESIGN EXAMPLE ............................................................................................. 7-33
7.6 SPECIFICATIONS................................................................................................ 7-40
7.7 COST CONSIDERATIONS.................................................................................. 7-44
7.8 CONSTRUCTION PROCEDURES...................................................................... 7-45
7.9 INSPECTION ........................................................................................................ 7-52
7.10 REINFORCED EMBANKMENTS FOR ROADWAY WIDENING ................ 7-52
7.11 REINFORCEMENT OF EMBANKMENTS COVERING LARGE AREAS.... 7-54
7.12 COLUMN SUPPORTED EMBANKMENTS .................................................... 7-54
7.13 REFERENCES .................................................................................................... 7-57

8.0 REINFORCED SLOPES ................................................................................................... 8-1


8.1 BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................... 8-1
8.2 APPLICATIONS ..................................................................................................... 8-1
8.3 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR REINFORCED SLOPES........................................ 8-4
8.3-1 Design Concepts ....................................................................................... 8-4
8.3-2 Design of Reinforced Slopes .................................................................... 8-5
8.3-3 Reinforced Slope Design Guidelines........................................................ 8-7
8.3-4 Computer Assisted Design ..................................................................... 8-27
8.4 MATERIAL PROPERTIES .................................................................................. 8-28

FHWA NHI-07-092
Geosynthetics Engineering i-7 August 2008
8.4-1 Reinforced Slope Systems ...................................................................... 8-28
8.4-2 Soils ........................................................................................................ 8-28
8.4-3 Geosynthetic Reinforcement .................................................................. 8-30
8.5 TREATMENT OF OUTER FACE........................................................................ 8-33
8.6 PRELIMINARY DESIGN AND COST EXAMPLE............................................ 8-37
8.7 COST CONSIDERATIONS.................................................................................. 8-43
8.8 IMPLEMENTATION............................................................................................ 8-44
8.9 SPECIFICATIONS AND CONTRACTING APPROACH .................................. 8-46
8.9-1 Specification for Geosynthetic Soil Reinforcement ............................... 8-47
8.9-2 Specification for Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Slope System .............. 8-53
8.10 INSTALLATION PROCEDURES ..................................................................... 8-55
8.11 FIELD INSPECTION.......................................................................................... 8-59
8.12 STANDARD DESIGNS...................................................................................... 8-59
8.13 REFERENCES .................................................................................................... 8-62

9.0 MECHANICALLY STABILIZED EARTH RETAINING


WALLS AND ABUTMENTS ....................................................................................... 9-1
9.1 BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................... 9-1
9.2 APPLICATIONS ..................................................................................................... 9-3
9.3 DESCRIPTION OF MSE WALLS ......................................................................... 9-5
9.3-1 Soil Reinforcements ................................................................................. 9-5
9.3-2 Facings...................................................................................................... 9-5
9.4 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR MSE WALLS ....................................................... 9-10
9.4-1 Approaches and Models ......................................................................... 9-10
9.4-2 Design Steps .......................................................................................... 9-12
9.4-3 Comments on the Design Procedure ...................................................... 9-18
9.4-4 Drainage.................................................................................................. 9-30
9.4-5 Seismic Design ....................................................................................... 9-32
9.5 LATERAL DISPLACEMENT.............................................................................. 9-34
9.6 MATERIAL PROPERTIES .................................................................................. 9-34
9.6-1 Reinforced Wall Fill Soil........................................................................ 9-34
9.6-2 Geosynthetic Reinforcement .................................................................. 9-36
9.7 COST CONSIDERATIONS................................................................................. 9-43
9.8 COST ESTIMATE EXAMPLES ......................................................................... 9-44
9.8-1 Geogrid, MBW Unit-Faced Wall ........................................................... 9-44
9.8-2 Geotextile Wrap Wall............................................................................. 9-48
9.9 SPECIFICATIONS................................................................................................ 9-51
9.9-1 Geosynthetic, MBW Unit-Faced Wall ................................................... 9-51
9.9-2 Modular Block Wall Unit ....................................................................... 9-59

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Geosynthetics Engineering i- 8 August 2008
9.9-3 Geosynthetic Wrap Around Wall ........................................................... 9-66
9.10 CONSTRUCTION PROCEDURES.................................................................... 9-74
9.10-1 Concrete Faced Wall ............................................................................ 9-74
9.10-2 Geotextile Wrap-Around Wall ............................................................. 9-76
9.11 INSPECTION ...................................................................................................... 9-78
9.12 IMPLEMENTATION.......................................................................................... 9-80
9.12-1 Design Responsibility........................................................................... 9-81
9.12-2 Standardized Designs ........................................................................... 9-81
9.12-1 Geosynthetic Design Strength .............................................................. 9-85
9.13 SUMMARY OF LOAD RESISTANCE FACTOR DESIGN ............................. 9-85
9.13-1 Introduction .......................................................................................... 9-85
9.13-2 Background........................................................................................... 9-86
9.13-3 MSE Wall Design................................................................................. 9-87
9.13-4 External Stability .................................................................................. 9-87
9.13-5 Internal Stability ................................................................................... 9-88
9.14 REFERENCES .................................................................................................... 9-89

10.0 GEOMEMBRANES AND OTHER GEOSYNTHETIC BARRIERS ....................... 10-1


10.1 BACKGROUND ................................................................................................. 10-1
10.2 GEOSYNTHETIC BARRIER MATERIALS..................................................... 10-1
10.2-1 Geomembranes ..................................................................................... 10-2
10.2-2 Thin-Film Geotextile Composites ........................................................ 10-3
10.2-3 Geosynthetic Clay Liners ..................................................................... 10-4
10.2-4 Field-Impregnated Geotextiles ............................................................. 10-5
10.3 APPLICATIONS ................................................................................................. 10-5
10.4 DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS ......................................................................... 10-10
10.4-1 Performance Requirements................................................................. 10-11
10.4-2 In-Service Conditions ......................................................................... 10-11
10.4-3 Durability............................................................................................ 10-12
10.4-4 Installation Conditions........................................................................ 10-12
10.4-5 Peer Review........................................................................................ 10-14
10.4-6 Economic Considerations ................................................................... 10-14
10.5 INSTALLATION .............................................................................................. 10-14
10.6 INSPECTION .................................................................................................... 10-15
10.6-1 Manufacture........................................................................................ 10-16
10.6-2 Field .................................................................................................... 10-16
10.7 SPECIFICATION .............................................................................................. 10-16
10.8 REFERENCES .................................................................................................. 10-17

FHWA NHI-07-092
Geosynthetics Engineering i-9 August 2008
APPENDICES
Appendix A — GEOSYNTHETIC LITERATURE
Appendix B — GEOSYNTHETIC TERMS
Appendix C — NOTATION AND ACRONYMS
Appendix D — AASHTO M288 SPECIFICATION
Appendix E — GEOSYNTHETIC TEST STANDARDS
E-1 American Society for Testing and Materials
E-2 Geosynthetic Research Institute
Appendix F — REPRESENTATIVE LIST OF GEOSYNTHETIC
MANUFACTURERS AND SUPPLIERS
Appendix G — GENERAL PROPERTIES AND COSTS OF GEOTEXTILES
AND GEOGRIDS
Appendix H — GEOSYNTHETIC REINFORCEMENT STRUCTURAL
DESIGN PROPERTIES
H.1 BACKGROUND
H.2 TENSILE STRENGTHS
H.3 REDUCTION FACTORS
H.4 IMPLEMENTATION
H.5 ALTERNATIVE LONG-TERM STRENGTH DETERMINATION
H.6 SOIL-REINFORCEMENT INTERACTION
H.7 REFERENCES

FHWA NHI-07-092
Geosynthetics Engineering i- 10 August 2008
List of Tables

1-1 Representative Applications and Controlling Functions of Geosynthetics ......................... 1-7


1-2 Important Criteria and Principal Properties Required for Evaluation of Geosynthetics ... 1-11
1-3 Evaluation of Geosynthetic Property Requirements ......................................................... 1-12
1-4 Geosynthetic Properties and Parameters ........................................................................... 1-12
1-5 Geosynthetic Field Inspection Checklist ........................................................................... 1-25

2-1 Guidelines for Evaluating the Critical Nature or Severity


of Drainage and Erosion Control Applications.................................................... 2-4
2-2 Geotextile Strength Property Requirements for Drainage Geotextiles ............................. 2-15

3-1 Geotextile Strength Property Requirements for Permanent


Erosion Control Geotextiles................................................................................ 3-7

4-1 Limits of Slope Steepness and Length to Limit Runoff Velocity to 0.3 m/s ...................... 4-4
4-2 Physical Requirements for Temporary Silt Fence Geotextiles ............................................ 4-9

5-1 Application and Associated Functions of Geosynthetics in Roadway Systems.................. 5-6


5-2 Construction Survivability Ratings ................................................................................... 5-16
5-3 Geotextile Property Requirements for Stabilization Applications (CBR < 3)................... 5-18
5-4 Geotextile Property Requirements for Separation Applications (CBR > 3)...................... 5-19
5-5 Geogrid Survivability Property Requirements for
Stabilization and Base Reinforcement Applications.......................................... 5-20
5-6 Bearing Capacity Factors for Different Ruts and Traffic
Conditions Both With and Without Geosynthetics............................................ 5-23
5-7 Recommended mi Values for Modifying Structural Layer Coefficients of
Untreated Base and Subbase Materials in Flexible Pavements ......................... 5-50
5-8 Quality of Pavement Drainage .......................................................................................... 5-50
5-9 Recommended Values of Drainage Coefficient, Cd, for Rigid Pavement Design ............. 5-51
5-10 Qualitative Review of Reinforcement Application
Potential for Paved Permanent Roads................................................................ 5-55
5-11 Recommended Minimum Geotextile Overlap Requirements ......................................... 5-69

6-1 Paving Grade Geotextile Selection.................................................................................... 6-14

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Geosynthetics Engineering i-11 August 2008
7-1 Geosynthetic Properties Required for Reinforcement Applications ................................. 7-25
7-2 Required Degree of Geosynthetic Survivability as a Function of Subgrade Conditions
and Construction Equipment.............................................................................. 7-29
7-3 Required Degree of Geosynthetic Survivability as a Function of Cover Material
and Construction Equipment.......................................................................................... 7-30
7-4 Minimum Geotextile Property Requirements for Geotextile Survivability....................... 7-31
7-5 Geogrid Survivabilty Property Requirements ................................................................... 7-32

8-1 RSS Slope Facing Options ................................................................................................ 8-21


8-2 Default Values For F* and α Pullout Factors .................................................................... 8-32
8-3 Allowable Geotextile Strength with Various Soil Types .................................................. 8-51
8-4 Allowable Geogrid Strength with Various Soil Types...................................................... 8-52
8-5 Durability Reduction Factors by Product and Soil Fill pH ............................................... 8-53

9-1 Internal Failure Modes and Required Properties For MSE Walls..................................... 9-12
9-2 Default Values For F* And " Pullout Factors ................................................................... 9-30
9-3 MSE Soil Fill Requirements.............................................................................................. 9-35
9-4 Common LRFD Load Groups for Walls ........................................................................... 9-87

10-1 Common Types of Geomembranes ................................................................................. 10-2


10-2 Recommended Minimum Properties for General
Geomembrane Installation Survivability ......................................................... 10-13

G-1 General Range of Strength and Permeability Properties for


Representative Types of Geotextiles and Geogrids
G-2 General Description of Geotextiles
G-3 Approximate Cost Range of Geotextiles and Geogrids

H-1 Typical Ranges of Creep Reduction Factors


H-2 Installation Damage Reduction Factors
H-3 Aging Reduction Factors, PET
H-4 Anticipated Resistance of Polymers to Specific Environments
H-5 Recommended pH Limits for Reinforced Fill Soils
H-6 Minimum Requirements for Use of Default Reduction Factor
H-7 Basic Aspects of Reinforcement Pullout Performance in
Granular and Low Cohesive Soils
H-8 Default Values for F* and " Pullout Factors

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Geosynthetics Engineering i- 12 August 2008
List of Figures

Figure 1-1 Classification of geosynthetics and other soil inclusions .................................... 1-4
Figure 1-2 Types of (a) stitches and (b) seams, according to Federal Standard No. 751a ;
and (c) improper seam placement ...................................................................... 1-28
Figure 1-3 Bodkin connection of HDPE uniaxial geogrid .................................................. 1-29

Figure 2-1 Grain-size distribution for several soils ............................................................... 2-5


Figure 2-2 Filter bridge formation......................................................................................... 2-7
Figure 2-3 Definitions of clogging and blinding ................................................................... 2-7
Figure 2-4 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gradient ratio test device.................................. 2-14
Figure 2-5 Flow chart summary of FHWA filter design procedure .................................... 2-18
Figure 2-6 Typical gradations and Darcy permeabilities of several aggregate and
graded filter materials ........................................................................................ 2-21
Figure 2-7 Construction procedure for geotextile-lined underdrains .................................. 2-37
Figure 2-8 Construction of geotextile drainage systems ..................................................... 2-38
Figure 2-9 Construction geotextile filters and separators beneath permeable
pavement base.................................................................................................... 2-39
Figure 2-10 Geocomposite drains.......................................................................................... 2-42
Figure 2-11 Prefabricated geocomposite edge drain construction using sand fill
upstream of composite ....................................................................................... 2-46
Figure 2-12 Recommended installation method for prefabricated geocomposite
edge drains ......................................................................................................... 2-47

Figure 3-1 Flow chart summary of FHWA filter design procedure ...................................... 3-8
Figure 3-2 Erosion control installations: a) installation in wave protection revetment;
b) river shoreline application; and c) stream application................................... 3-28
Figure 3-3 Construction of hard armor erosion control systems ......................................... 3-31
Figure 3-4 Special construction requirements related to specific hard armor erosion
control applications............................................................................................ 3-32
Figure 3-5 Recommended maximum design velocities and flow durations for erosion
resistance of various surface materials and treatments ...................................... 3-42

Figure 4-1 Geotextile strength versus post spacing............................................................... 4-7


Figure 4-2 Post requirements versus post spacing................................................................. 4-8
Figure 4-3 Typical silt fence installation ............................................................................. 4-14
Figure 4-4 Installation of a prefabricated silt fence............................................................. 4-15
Figure 4-5 Recommended maximum design velocities and flow durations for various
classes of erosion control materials .................................................................... 4-19

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Figure 5-1 Potential applications of geosynthetics in a layered pavement system................ 5-2
Figure 5-2 Geotextile separator beneath permeable base ...................................................... 5-5
Figure 5-3 Concept of geotextile separation in roadways ..................................................... 5-9
Figure 5-5 Filtration at the interface of two dissimilar materials (without geosynthetics) . 5-14
Figure 5-6 U.S. Forest Service thickness design curve for single wheel load..................... 5-25
Figure 5-7 U.S. Forest Service thickness design curve for tandem wheel load .................. 5-25
Figure 5-8 Thickness design curves with geosynthetics for a) single and b) dual wheel
loads (modified for highway applications) ........................................................ 5-26
Figure 5-9 Aggregate loss to weak subgrades ..................................................................... 5-44
Figure 5-10 Mechanistic-Empirical (M-E) Pavement Design Method showing a) M-E
concept, and b) modified response model for inclusion of reinforcement ........ 5-56
Figure 5-11 Construction sequence using geosynthetics....................................................... 5-65
Figure 5-12 Forming curves using geotextiles ...................................................................... 5-68
Figure 5-13 Repair of rutting with additional material.......................................................... 5-69

Figure 6-1 Shearing and bending stress in HMA overlay ..................................................... 6-2
Figure 6-2 Geotextiles (a.k.a. Paving Fabric) in rehabilitated pavement section.................. 6-4
Figure 6-3 Relationship between the vertical compressive strain at the top of the
subgrade and the number of load applications in geogrid reinforced pavement 6-25

Figure 7-1 Reinforced embankment applications.................................................................. 7-3


Figure 7-2 Reinforced embankments failure modes.............................................................. 7-4
Figure 7-3 Reinforcement required to provide rotational stability...................................... 7-10
Figure 7-4 Reinforcement required to limit lateral embankment spreading........................ 7-11
Figure 7-5 Embankment height versus undrained shear strength of foundation ................. 7-16
Figure 7-6 Local bearing failure (lateral squeeze)............................................................... 7-17
Figure 7-7 Construction sequence for geosynthetic reinforced embankments for
extremely weak foundations .............................................................................. 7-48
Figure 7-8 Placement of fill between toe berms on extremely soft foundations
(CBR < 1) with a mud wave anticipated............................................................ 7-49
Figure 7-9 Fill placement to tension geotextile on moderate ground conditions ................ 7-50
Figure 7-10 Reinforced embankment construction ............................................................... 7-51
Figure 7-11 Reinforced embankment construction for roadway widening ........................... 7-53
Figure 7-12 Column supported embankment with geosynthetic reinforcement ................... 7-56

Figure 8-1 Use of geosynthetics in engineered slopes........................................................... 8-2


Figure 8-2 Applications of RSSs: .......................................................................................... 8-3
Figure 8-3 Requirements for design of a reinforced slope .................................................... 8-8
Figure 8-4 Critical zone defined by rotational and sliding surface that meet the

FHWA NHI-07-092
Geosynthetics Engineering i- 14 August 2008
required safety factor ......................................................................................... 8-10
Figure 8-5 Rotational shear approach to determine required strength of reinforcement..... 8-12
Figure 8-6 Sliding wedge approach to determine the coefficient of earth pressure K ........ 8-14
Figure 8-7 Spacing and embedding requirements for slope reinforcement showing:
primary and intermediate reinforcement layout................................................. 8-16
Figure 8-8 Developing reinforcement length ...................................................................... 8-18
Figure 8-9 Cost evaluation of reinforced soil slopes ........................................................... 8-44
Figure 8-10 Construction of reinforced slopes ...................................................................... 8-57
Figure 8-11 Reinforced slope construction............................................................................ 8-58
Figure 8-12 Example of standard design ............................................................................... 8-61

Figure 9-1 Component parts of a Reinforced Earth wall....................................................... 9-2


Figure 9-2 Reinforced retaining wall systems using geosynthetics....................................... 9-3
Figure 9-3 Examples of geosynthetic MSE walls.................................................................. 9-4
Figure 9-4 Possible geosynthetic MSE wall facings ............................................................. 9-6
Figure 9-5 Wall facings ......................................................................................................... 9-8
Figure 9-6 Actual geosynthetic reinforced soil wall in contrast to the design model ......... 9-11
Figure 9-7 Geometric and loading characteristics of geosynthetic MSE walls................... 9-14
Figure 9-8 Example MSE wall drainage blanket detail....................................................... 9-32
Figure 9-9 Drainage details for MBW faced, MSE wall ..................................................... 9-33
Figure 9-10 Polyethylene geogrid bodkin connection detail................................................. 9-39
Figure 9-11 Example MBW mechanical connection............................................................. 9-39
Figure 9-12 Cost comparison of reinforced systems ............................................................. 9-44
Figure 9-13 Lift construction sequence for geotextile reinforced soil walls ......................... 9-79
Figure 9-14 Typical face construction detail for vertical geogrid-reinforced
retaining wall faces ............................................................................................ 9-80
Figure 9-15 Example of standard MSE wall design.............................................................. 9-83
Figure 9-16 Typical application of live load surcharge for MSE walls ................................ 9-88

Figure 10-1 Thin-film geotextile composites ........................................................................ 10-4


Figure 10-2 Geosynthetic clay liners..................................................................................... 10-4
Figure 10-3 Control of expansive soils.................................................................................. 10-7
Figure 10-4 Control of horizontal infiltration of base ........................................................... 10-7
Figure 10-5 Maintenance of optimum water content ............................................................ 10-8
Figure 10-6 Waterproofing of tunnels ................................................................................... 10-8
Figure 10-7 Water conveyance canals................................................................................... 10-9
Figure 10-8 Secondary containment of underground fuel tanks ........................................... 10-9
Figure 10-9 Waterproofing of walls ................................................................................... 10-10

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FHWA NHI-07-092
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1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND

The objective of this manual is to assist highway design engineers, specification writers,
estimators, construction inspectors, and maintenance personnel with the design, selection,
and installation of geosynthetics. In addition to providing a general overview of these
materials and their applications, step-by-step procedures are given for the cost-effective use
of geosynthetics in drainage and erosion control systems, roadways, reinforced soil
structures, and in containment applications. Although the title refers to the general term
geosynthetic, the appropriate use of the subfamilies of geotextiles, geogrids, geocomposites,
and geomembranes are discussed in specific applications.

The basis for much of this manual is the FHWA Geotextile Engineering Manual (Christopher
and Holtz, 1985). Other sources of technical information include the book by Koerner
(2006) and a number of FHWA reports and publications. If you are not already somewhat
familiar with geosynthetics, you are encouraged to read the books by Ingold and Miller
(1988), Richardson and Koerner (1990), and Fannin (2000). Additional references are in the
geosynthetic bibliographies prepared by Giroud (1993, 1994).

Geosynthetics terminology is defined in Appendix B and ASTM (2006) D 4439 “Standard


Terminology for Geosynthetics”. Common notation and symbols are used throughout this
manual, and for easy reference a list is provided in Appendix C. The notation and symbols
are generally consistent with the International Geosynthetic Society's (IGS) Recommended
Mathematical and Graphical Symbols (2000).

Sample specifications for each primary application are also included in this manual.
Remember that these specifications are only guidelines and should be modified as
required by project specific design and performance criteria, engineering judgment,
and experience. For the more routine highway applications, specifications are adapted from
the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
Standard Specification, Designation M 288 (2006). (The AASHTO M 288 specification can
be found in Appendix D.) Other sample specifications were provided by New York and
Washington DOTs, the National Concrete Masonry Association, and the FHWA.
Historically, the AASHTO M 288 specifications were based on a geotextile specification
originally developed by Task Force 25 of the Joint Subcommittee on Materials of AASHTO,
the Association General Contractors (AGC), and the American Road and Transportation
Builders Associations (ARTBA), along with representatives from the geosynthetic industry

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-1 August 2008
(AASHTO, 1990a). Another important early group was Task Force 27 on soil reinforcing,
sponsored by the same AASHTO-AGC-ARTBA Subcommittee on Materials (AASHTO,
1990b). The FHWA soil reinforcing specifications for walls and slopes are from Elias et al.
(2001).

In this introductory chapter, we define geosynthetics and discuss what they are made of, how
they are made, and how they should be identified. Then we introduce you to the functions
and applications of geosynthetics, and we describe in some detail the methods used to
evaluate their engineering properties. Finally, we provide some general comments about
design, construction, and inspection that apply to all applications.

The remaining chapters of this manual provide specific details about the major application
categories. Each chapter provides a step-by-step systematic approach to design, a design
example, cost considerations, sample specifications, installation procedures, and inspection
suggestions. Proper attention to these details will ensure successful and cost-effective
geosynthetic designs and installations.

1.2 DEFINITIONS, MANUFACTURING PROCESSES, AND IDENTIFICATION

ASTM (2006) D 4439 defines a geosynthetic as a planar product manufactured from a


polymeric material used with soil, rock, earth, or other geotechnical-related material as an
integral part of a civil engineering project, structure, or system. The first to be developed and
most widely used geosynthetic is a geotextile, defined by ASTM as a permeable geosynthetic
comprised entirely of textiles. A number of other geosynthetics are available, including grids,
membranes, nets, meshes, webs, and composites; that are used in combination with or in
place of geotextiles. Geogrids are formed by a regular network of tensile elements with
apertures of sufficient size to interlock with surrounding fill material. Geogrids are primarily
used for reinforcement, geomembranes are low-permeability geosynthetics used as fluid
barriers. Geotextiles and other geosynthetics such as nets and grids can be combined with
geomembranes and other geosynthetics to provide the best attributes of each material. These
products are called geocomposites, and they include geotextile-geonets, geotextile-geogrids,
geotextile-geomembranes, geomembrane-geonets, geotextile-polymeric cores, and even
three-dimensional polymeric cell structures.

A convenient classification scheme for geosynthetics is provided in Figure 1-1. Most


geosynthetics are made from synthetic polymers, and of these, polypropylene, polyester, and
polyethylene are by far the most common. These polymers are normally highly resistant to
biological and chemical degradation. Less-frequently-used polymers include polyamides

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-2 August 2008
(e.g., nylon, which is not very durable in soil because it softens in the presence of water),
polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and glass fibers. Natural fibers such as cotton, jute, etc., could
also be used to make materials that are similar to geotextiles. Because these products are
biodegradable, they are only for temporary applications. Natural fiber geotextile-related
materials have not been widely utilized in the U.S. For additional information about the
polymeric composition of geosynthetics, see Koerner (2006).

In manufacturing geotextiles, basic elements such as fibers or yarns are combined into planar
textile structures. The fibers can be continuous filaments, which are very long thin strands of
a polymer, or staple fibers, which are short filaments, typically ¾ to 6 in. (20 to 150 mm)
long. Sometimes an extruded plastic sheet or film is slit to form thin, flat tapes. With both
continuous filaments and slit tapes, the extrusion or drawing process elongates the polymers
in the direction of the draw and increases the strength of the filament or tape. After the
drawing process, filaments and tapes may also be fibrillated, a process in which the filaments
are split into finer filaments by crimping, twisting, cutting or nipped with a pinned roller.
This process provides pliable, multifilament yarns with a more open structure that are easier
to weave.

Geotextile type is determined by the method used to combine the filaments or tapes into the
planar structure. The vast majority of geotextiles are either woven or nonwoven. Woven
geotextiles are made of monofilament, multifilament, or fibrillated yarns, or of slit film tapes.
The weaving process is as old as Homo Sapiens' have been making clothing and textiles.
Nonwoven textile manufacture is a modern development, a “high-tech” process industry, in
which synthetic polymer fibers or filaments are continuously extruded and spun, blown or
otherwise laid onto a moving conveyor belt. Then the mass of filaments or fibers are either
needlepunched, in which the filaments are mechanically entangled by a series of small
needles, or heat bonded, in which the individual fibers are welded together by heat and
pressure at their points of contact in the nonwoven mass.

Geogrids with integral junctions are manufactured by extruding and orienting sheets of
polyolefins (polyethylene or polypropylene). These types of geogrids are often called
extruded or integral geogrids. Geogrids may also be manufactured of multifilament
polyester yarns, joined at the crossover points by a knitting or weaving process, and then
encased with a polymer-based, plasticized coating. These types of geogrids are often called
woven or flexible geogrids. A third type, a welded geogrid manufactured, as the name
implies, by welding polymeric strips (e.g., strapping material) together at their cross over
points. All these manufacturing techniques allow geogrids to be oriented such that the
principal strength is in one direction, called uniaxial geogrids, or in both directions (but not
necessarily the same), called biaxial geogrids.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-3 August 2008
The manufacture of other geosynthetic products is as varied as the products themselves.
Geonets, geosynthetic erosion mats, geowebs, geomeshes, etc., can be made from large and
often rather stiff filaments formed into a mesh with integral junctions or they can be welded
or glued at the crossover points. Manufacture of geomembranes and other geosynthetic
barriers is discussed in Chapter 10.

Geocomposites result when two or more geosynthetics are combined in the manufacturing
process. Most geocomposites are used in drainage applications and waste containment. A
common example of a geocomposite is a prefabricated drain that consists of a fluted or
dimpled polymeric sheet, which acts as a conduit for water, wrapped with a geotextile that
acts as a filter.

TEXTILES WEBBINGS

SYNTHETIC NATURAL SYNTHETIC NATURAL


Various polymers Cotton Steel Palm wood
Polypropylene Jute Polymers Wood
Polyethylene Reeds Bamboo
Polyester, etc. Grass

IMPERMEABLE PERMEABLE CLOSE-MESH OPEN MESH


Nets Geogrids
Geomembrane polymers: Mats Bar mats
Polyethylene (HDPE, LLDPE, etc.) Combination
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Products
Cholosulphonated Polyethylene (CSPE) SHEETS STRIPS
Ethylene Interpolymer Alloy (EIA) Formed Plastic Reinforced Earth
Rubber, etc. with pins, etc. York System

GEOTEXTILES

NONWOVEN KNITTED WOVEN


Continuous Filament Combination Products
Staple Filament (Geocomposites)

NEEDLE- CHEMICAL HEAT-


PUNCHED BONDED BONDED
Wet Laid Spunbonded
Resin Bonded

MONOFILAMENT SLIT FILM FIBRILLATED MULTIFILAMENT


YARNS YARNS YARNS YARNS
Noncalendered Noncalendered
Calendered Calendered

Figure 1-1. Classification of geosynthetics and other soil inclusions (modified after
Rankilor, 1981).

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-4 August 2008
Geosynthetics are generically identified by:
1. polymer (descriptive terms, e.g., high density, low density, etc. should be included);
2. type of element (e.g., filament, yarn, tape, strand, rib, coated rib), if appropriate;
3. distinctive manufacturing process (e.g., woven, needlepunched nonwoven,
heatbonded nonwoven, stitchbonded, extruded, knitted, welded, uniaxial, biaxial,
roughened sheet, smooth sheet), if appropriate;
4. primary type of geosynthetic (e.g., geotextile, geogrid, geomembrane, etc.);
5. mass per unit area, if appropriate (e.g., for geotextiles, geogrids, GCLs, erosion
control blankets,) and/or thickness, if appropriate (e.g., for geomembranes); and
6. any additional information or physical properties necessary to describe the material
in relation to specific applications.

Four examples are:


• polypropylene staple filament needlepunched nonwoven geotextile, 10 oz/yd2 (340
g/m2);
• polyethylene geonet, 200 mil (5 mm) thick;
• polypropylene extruded biaxial geogrid, with 1 in. x 1 in. (25 mm x 25 mm)
openings; and
• high-density polyethylene roughened sheet geomembrane, 60 mil (1.5 mm) thick.

1.3 FUNCTIONS AND APPLICATIONS

Geosynthetics have six primary functions:


1. filtration
2. drainage
3. separation
4. reinforcement
5. fluid barrier, and
6. protection

Geosynthetic applications are usually defined by their primary function. For example,
geotextiles are used as filters to prevent soils from migrating into drainage aggregate or
pipes, while maintaining water flow through the system. They are similarly used below
riprap and other armor materials in coastal and stream bank protection systems to prevent soil
erosion.

Nonwoven needlepunched geotextiles and geocomposites can also provide drainage, by


allowing water to drain from or through low permeability soils. Geotextile applications

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-5 August 2008
include dissipation of pore water pressures at the base of roadway embankments. For
situations with higher flow requirements, for example, pavement edge drains, slope
interceptor drains, and retaining wall drains, geocomposite drains are often used. Filtration,
drainage, and erosion control are addressed in Chapters 2, 3, and 4.

Geotextiles are often used as separators to prevent road base materials from penetrating into
the underlying soft subgrade, thus maintaining the design thickness and roadway integrity.
Separators also prevent fine-grained subgrade soils from being pumped into permeable,
granular road bases. Separators are discussed in Chapter 5.

Both geotextiles and geogrids can be used as reinforcement to add tensile strength to a soil
matrix, thereby providing a more competent and stable material. Reinforcement enables
embankments to be constructed over very soft foundations and permits the construction of
steep slopes and retaining walls. Reinforcement applications are presented in Chapters 7, 8,
and 9. Geogrids and geotextiles can also be used as reinforcement in roadway base and
subbase aggregate layers to improve the performance of pavement systems as discussed in
Chapter 5.

Geomembranes, thin-film geotextile composites, geosynthetic clay liners, and field-coated


geotextiles are used as fluid barriers to impede the flow of a liquid or gas from one location
to another. This geosynthetic function has wide application in asphalt pavement overlays,
encapsulation of swelling soils, and waste containment. Pavement overlays are discussed in
Chapter 6. Geomembranes and other geosynthetic barriers are described in Chapter 10.

The sixth function is, protection, in which the geosynthetic acts as a stress relief layer.
Temporary geosynthetic blankets and permanent geosynthetic mats are placed over the soil to
reduce erosion caused by rainfall impact and water flow shear stress. A protective cushion of
nonwoven geotextiles is often used to prevent puncture of geomembranes (by reducing point
stresses) from stones in the adjacent soil or drainage aggregate during installation and while
in service as discussed in Chapter 10. Geotextiles also provide stress relief to retard the
development of reflection cracks in pavement overlays as discussed in Chapter 6

In addition to the primary function, geosynthetics usually perform one or more secondary
functions. The primary and secondary functions make up the total contribution of the
geosynthetic to a particular application. A listing of common applications according to
primary and secondary functions is presented in Table 1-1. Secondary functions can be
equally important as the primary function, and in order to obtain optimum geosynthetic
performance, both much be considered in the design computations and specifications.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-6 August 2008
Table 1-1
Representative Applications and
Controlling Functions of Geosynthetics

PRIMARY
APPLICATION SECONDARY FUNCTION(S)
FUNCTION

Separation Unpaved Roads (temporary & Filter, drains, reinforcement


permanent)
Paved Roads (secondary & primary) Filter, drains
Construction Access Roads Filter, drains, reinforcement
Working Platforms Filter, drains, reinforcement
Railroads (new construction) Filter, drains, reinforcement
Railroads (rehabilitation) Filter, drains, reinforcement
Landfill Covers Reinforcement, drains, protection
Preloading (stabilization) Reinforcement, drains
Marine Causeways Filter, drains, reinforcement
General Fill Areas Filter, drains, reinforcement
Paved & Unpaved Parking Facilities Filter, drains, reinforcement
Cattle Corrals Filter, drains, reinforcement
Coastal & River Protection Filter, drains, reinforcement
Sports Fields Filter, drains, protection

Filter Trench Drains Separation, drains


Pipe Wrapping Separation, drains, protection
Base Course Drains Separation, drains
Frost Protection Separation, drainage, reinforcement
Structural Drains Separation, drains
Toe Drains in Dams Separation, drains
High Embankments Drains
Filter Below Fabric-Form Separation, drains
Silt Fences Separation, drains
Silt Screens Separation
Culvert Outlets Separation
Reverse Filters for Erosion Control: Separation
Seeding and Mulching
Beneath Gabions
Ditch Armoring
Embankment Protection, Coastal
Embankment Protection, Rivers
& Streams
Embankment Protection, Lakes
Vertical Drains (wicks)

Drainage-Transmission Retaining Walls Separation, filter


Vertical Drains Separation, filter
Horizontal Drains Reinforcement
Below Membranes (drainage of gas and Reinforcement, protection
water)
Earth Dams Filter
Below Concrete (decking & slabs) Protection

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-7 August 2008
Table 1-1
Representative Applications and
Controlling Functions of Geosynthetics
(continued)

PRIMARY SECONDARY FUNCTION(S)


APPLICATION
FUNCTION

Reinforcement Pavement Overlays ----------


Subbase Reinforcement in Roadways & R Filter
Retaining Structures
Membrane Support Drains
Embankment Reinforcement Separation, drains, filter, protection
Fill Reinforcement Drains
Foundation Support Drains
Soil Encapsulation Drains
Net Against Rockfalls Drains, filter, separation
Fabric Retention Systems Drains
Sand Bags Drains
Reinforcement of Membranes ----------
Load Redistribution Protection
Bridging Nonuniformity Soft Soil Areas Separation
Encapsulated Hydraulic Fills Separation
Bridge Piles for Fill Placement Separation
----------

Fluid Barrier Asphalt Pavement Overlays Protection


Liners for Canals and Reservoirs ----------
Liners for Landfills and Waste ----------
Repositories ----------
Covers for Landfill and Waste ----------
Repositories ----------
Cutoff Walls for Seepage Control ----------
Waterproofing Tunnels ----------
Facing for Dams ----------
Membrane Encapsulated Soil Layers ----------
Expansive Soils ----------
Flexible Formwork ----------

Protection Geomembrane Cushion Drains


Asphalt Overlay Fluid barrier
Temporary Erosion Control Fluid barrier
Permanent Erosion Control Reinforcement, fluid barrier

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-8 August 2008
1.4 DESIGN APPROACH

Considering the wide variety of geosynthetics available, engineering based on the specific
project conditions and constraints is required in order to obtain the most suitable material for
any application. We recommend the following approach to designing with geosynthetics:

1. Define the purpose and establish the scope of the project.


2. Investigate and establish the geotechnical conditions at the site (geology, subsurface
exploration, laboratory and field testing, etc.).
3. Establish application criticality, severity, and performance criteria. Determine
external factors that may influence the geosynthetic's performance.
4. Formulate trial designs and compare several alternatives.
5. Establish the models to be analyzed, determine the parameters, and carry out the
analysis.
6. Compare results and select the most appropriate design; consider alternatives versus
cost, construction feasibility, etc. Modify the design if necessary.
7. Prepare detailed plans and specifications including: a) specific property requirements
for the geosynthetic; and b) detailed installation procedures.
8. Hold preconstruction meeting with contractor and inspectors.
9. Approve geosynthetic on the basis of specimens' laboratory test results and/or
manufacturer's certification.
10. Monitor construction.
11. Inspect after major events (e.g., 100 year rainfall or an earthquake) that may
compromise system performance.

By following this systematic approach to design and installation of geosynthetics, cost-


effective designs can be achieved, along with improved performance, increased service life,
and reduced maintenance costs. Good communication and interaction between all concerned
parties is imperative throughout the design and selection process.

1.5 EVALUATION OF PROPERTIES

Today, there are more than 600 different geosynthetic products available in North America.
Because of the wide variety of products, with their different polymers, filaments, weaving (or
nonwoven) patterns, bonding mechanisms, thicknesses, masses, etc., they have a
considerable range of physical and mechanical properties. Thus, the process of comparison
and selection of geosynthetics is not easy. Geosynthetic testing has progressed significantly
since the FHWA Geotextile Engineering Manual (Christopher and Holtz, 1985) was

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Geosynthetics Engineering 1-9 August 2008
published. Specific test procedures for most geosynthetic properties can be found in ASTM
(2006). These procedures have been developed by ASTM Committee D 35 on Geosynthetics
during the past 20 years or so. Because ASTM standards are consensus standards, the
process is often slow, and to help speed up the process, the Geosynthetics Research Institute
(GRI) of Drexel University has issued interim standards for a number of tests. They are only
active until an equivalent ASTM standard is adopted. ASTM (2006) and GRI (2006)
standards are listed in Appendix E. Note that test procedures referred to in the AASHTO
standard Geotextile Specification for Highway Applications, Designation M 288, are
primarily ASTM standard test procedures.

The particular, required design properties of the geosynthetic will depend on the specific
application and the associated function(s) the geosynthetic is to provide. The properties
listed in Table 1-2 cover the range of important criteria and properties required to evaluate a
geosynthetic for most applications in this manual. It should be noted that not all of the listed
requirements will be necessary for all applications. Typically only six to eight properties are
required for a specific application. Also note that in Table 1-2, properties required for
mechanical or hydraulic design are different than those required for constructability
(sometimes called survivability) and longevity or durability.

Table 1-3 lists all the geosynthetics applications included in this manual along with their
associated functions. Use Table 1-3 along with Tables 1-1 and 1-2 to determine the
appropriate properties for each application.

All current geosynthetic properties and parameters are listed in Table 1-4, along with the
ASTM or GRI test procedures for each property and their preferred units of measurement.
All geosynthetic properties can be placed into three basic categories: general, index, and
performance properties. General properties, given in Table 1-4, are usually provided by the
manufacturers or their distributors. Another source of general properties is the Specifier's
Guide published each December in the Geosynthetics magazine (formerly Geotechnical
Fabrics Report), published by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI). In
addition to general and some index properties for most product types and manufacturers, the
Specifier's Guide also contains a directory of manufacturers, distributors, installers, design
engineers, and testing laboratories. Contact information and web addresses are also
provided.

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Table 1-4 also lists index tests and performance tests. Index tests were originally developed
by manufacturers for quality control purposes, and as the name implies, they give only an
indication or a qualitative assessment of the property of interest. With some exceptions,
index test values are not appropriate for design, although when determined using standard
test procedures, index properties can be used for product comparison, procurement
specifications, and quality control of construction and installation.

Table 1-2
Important Criteria and Principal
Properties Required for Evaluation of Geosynthetics
FUNCTION
CRITERIA AND PROPERTY1
Filtration Drainage Separation Reinforcement Barrier Protection
PARAMETER
Design Requirements:

Mechanical Strength

Tensile Strength Wide Width Strength — — — 9 9 —


Tensile Modulus Wide Width Modulus — — — 9 9 —
Seam Strength Wide Width Strength — — — 9 9 —
Tension Creep Creep Resistance — — — 9 9 —
Compression Creep Creep Resistance — 92 — — — —
Soil-Geosynthetic Shear Strength — — — 9 9 9
Friction

Hydraulic

Flow Capacity Permeability 9 9 9 9 9 —


Transmissivity — 9 — — — 9
Piping Resistance Apparent Opening Size 9 — 9 9 — 9
Porimetry 9 — — — — 9
Clogging Resistance Gradient Ratio or Long- 9 — — — — 9
Term Flow
Constructability
Requirements:

Tensile Strength Grab Strength 9 9 9 9 9 9


Seam Strength Grab Strength 9 9 9 — 9 —
Bursting Resistance Burst Strength 9 9 9 9 9 9
Puncture Resistance Rod or Pyramid 9 9 9 9 9 9
Puncture
Tear Resistance Trapezoidal Tear 9 9 9 9 9 9
Longevity (Durability):

Abrasion Resistance3 Reciprocating Block 9 — — — — —


Abrasion
UV Stability4 UV Resistance 9 — — 9 9 9
Soil Environment5 Chemical 9 9 ? 9 9 ?
Biological 9 9 ? 9 9 ?
Wet-Dry 9 9 — — — 9
Freeze-Thaw 9 9 — — 9 —
NOTES
1. See Table 1-4 for specific procedures.
2. Compression creep is applicable to some geocomposites.
3. Erosion control applications where armor stone may move.
4. Exposed geosynthetics only.
5. Where required.

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Table 1-3
Evaluation of Geosynthetic Property Requirements
Functions
Chapter Application Filter Drainage Separation Reinforcement Barrier Protection
Subsurface Drainage ; 9
2
Prefabricated Drains 9 ; 9
3 Hard Armor Erosion Control ; 9
4 Silt Fence ; 9
Subgrade Separation ;
9
5 Subgrade Stabilization ; 9
; 9
Base/Subbase Reinforcement 9 ;
Asphalt Overlay Stress Relief layer ; ;
6
Reinforced Asphalt Overlay ;
7 Embankments Over Soft Subgrade 9 9 9 ;
8 Reinforced Slopes 9 ;
9 Reinforced Soil Walls ;
10 Containment Liners 9
; indicates Primary Function
9 indicates Secondary Functions

Table 1-4 Geosynthetic Properties and Parameters

PROPERTY TEST METHOD UNITS OF MEASUREMENT


I. GENERAL PROPERTIES (from manufacturers)
Type and Construction N/A -----
Polymer N/A -----
Mass per Unit Area ASTM D 5261 g/m2
Thickness (geotextiles and geomembranes) ASTM D 5199 mm
Roll Length Measure m
Roll Width Measure m
Roll Weight Measure kg
Roll Diameter Measure m
Specific Gravity & Density ASTM D 792 and D 1505 g/m3
Surface Characteristics N/A -----
II. INDEX PROPERTIES
MECHANICAL STRENGTH – UNIAXIAL LOADING
a) Tensile Strength (Quality Control)
1) Grab Strength (geotextiles and CSPE reinforced geomembranes) ASTM D 4632 N
2) Single Rib Strength (geogrids) ASTM D 6637 N
3) Narrow Strip (geomembranes)
- EDPM, CO, IR, CR ASTM D 412 N
- HDPE ASTM D 638 N
- PVC, VLDPE ASTM D 882 N

b) Tensile Strength (Load-Strain Characteristics)


1) Wide-Width Strip (geotextiles) ASTM D 4595 N
2) Single or Multi-Rib (geogrids) ASTM D 6637 N
3) Wide Strip Strength (geomembranes) ASTM D 4885 N
4) 2% Secant Modulus (PE geomembranes) ASTM D 882 N

c) Junction Strength (geogrids) GRI:GG2 N

d) Dynamic and Cyclic Resistance no standard -----

e) Creep Resistance ASTM D 5262 (Note: creep strain: %ε/hr


interpretation required) creep rupture: kN/m

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Table 1-4 Geosynthetic Properties and Parameters (continued)
MECHANICAL STRENGTH – UNIAXIAL LOADING (cont.)
PROPERTY TEST METHOD UNITS OF MEASUREMENT

f) Index Friction GRI:GS7 dimensionless

g) Seam Strength
1) Sewn (geotextiles) ASTM D 4884 N
2) Factory Peel and Shear (geomembranes) ASTM D 4545 N/m
3) Field Peel and Shear (geomembranes) ASTM D 4437 N/m

h) Tear Strength
1) Trapezoid Tearing (geotextiles) ASTM D 4533 N
2) Tear Resistance (geomembranes) ASTM D 1004 N

MECHANICAL STRENGTH – RUPTURE RESISTANCE


a) Burst Strength
1) Mullen Burst (geotextiles) ASTM D 3786 Pa
2) Static Puncture with 50-mm “CBR” Probe (geotextiles, ASTM D 6241 Pa or N
geonets, geomembranes)
3) Large Scale Hydrostatic (geomembranes and ASTM D 5514 Pa
geotextiles)

b) Puncture Resistance
1) Index (geotextiles and geomembranes) ASTM D 4833 N
2) Pyramid Puncture (geomembranes) ASTM D 5494 N
3) Static Puncture with 50-mm “CBR” Probe
ASTM D 6241 N
(geotextile, geonets, and geomembranes)

c) Penetration Resistance (Dimensional Stability) No standard -----

d) Geosynthetic Cutting Resistance No standard -----

e) Flexibility (Stiffness) ASTM D 1388 Mg/cm2

ENDURANCE PROPERTIES

a) Selecting Test Methods for Experimental Evaluation of


ASTM D 5819 --
Geosynthetic Durability

b) Abrasion Resistance (geotextiles) ASTM D 4886 %

c) Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Stability


1) Xenon-Arc Apparatus (geotextiles) ASTM D 4355 %
2) Outdoor Exposure (geotextiles) ASTM D 5970 %

d) Chemical Resistance
1) Geotextiles ASTM D 6389 % change
2) Geogrids ASTM D 6213 % change
3) Geomembranes ASTM D 5747 % change
4) Geonets ASTM D 5288 % change
5) Chemical Immersion—Laboratory ASTM D 5322 temperature & time
6) Oxidative Induction Time ASTM D 5885 minutes
7) Environmental Exposure EPA 9090 N/A

e) Biological Resistance
1) Biological Clogging (geotextile) ASTM D 1987 m3/s
2) Biological Degradation ASTM G 21 and G 22 -----
3) Soil Burial ASTM D 3083 % change

f) Wet and Dry Stability No standard -----

g) Temperature Stability
1) Temperature Stability (geotextile) ASTM D 4594 % change
2) Dimensional Stability (geomembrane) ASTM D 1204 % change

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Table 1-4 Geosynthetic Properties and Parameters (continued)
II. INDEX PROPERTIES (continued)

PROPERTY TEST METHOD UNITS OF MEASUREMENT


HYDRAULIC
a) Opening Characteristics (geotextiles)
1) Apparent Opening Size (AOS) ASTM D 4751 mm
2) Porimetry (pore size distribution)—Capillary flow or ASTM D 6767 mm or µm
bubble point test
3) Percent Open Area (POA) See Christopher & Holtz (1985) %
4) Porosity (n) (Vvoids/Vtotal) 100 %
b) Permeability (k) and Permittivity ( ψ) ASTM D 4491 m/s and s-1
c) Soil Retention Ability Empirically Related to -----
Opening Characteristics
d) In-Plane Flow Capacity (Transmissivity, θ) ASTM D 4716 m2/s

III. PERFORMANCE PROPERTIES

a) Stress-Strain Characteristics: kN/m and % strain


1) Tension Test in Soil See Elias et al. (1998)
2) Triaxial Test Method See Holtz et al.. (1982)
3) CBR on Soil Fabric System See Christopher & Holtz (1985)
4) Tension Test in Shear Box See Christopher & Holtz, (1985)
5) Plane Strain In-Soil Device See Boyle (1995) and
Boyle et al. (1996)

b) Creep Tests: kN/m and % strain


1) Extension Test in Soil See Elias et al. (1998)
2) Triaxial Test Method See Holtz et al. (1982)
3) Extension Test in Shear Box See Christopher & Holtz (1985)
4) Pullout Method ASTM D 6706*

c) Friction/Adhesion:
1) Direct Shear (soil-geosynthetic) ASTM D 5321* degrees (°)
2) Direct Shear (geosynthetic-geosynthetic) ASTM D 5321* degrees (°)
3) Pullout Resistance (geogrids) ASTM D 6706* dimensionless
4) Pullout Resistance (geotextiles) ASTM D 6706* dimensionless
5) Anchorage Embedment (geomembranes) GRI:GM2 kN/m

d) Dynamic and Cyclic Resistance: no standard procedures N/A

e) Puncture
1) Gravel, truncated cone or pyramid ASTM D 5494 kPa

f) Chemical Resistance:
1) In-Situ Immersion Testing ASTM D 5496 N/A

g) Soil Retention and Filtration Properties:


1) Gradient Ratio Method – for noncohesive sand and ASTM D 5101 Dimensionless
silt type soils
2) Flexible Wall Gradient Ratio Test – for fine-grained soils See Harney and Holtz (2001) Dimensionless
and Harney et al. (2007)
3) Hydraulic Conductivity Ratio (HCR) - for fine-grained soils ASTM D 5567 Dimensionless
4) Slurry Method – for silt fence applications ASTM D 5141 %
NOTES:
* -- Interpretation required.
N/A – not available or not applicable.

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Performance tests are an attempt to model the soil-geosynthetic interaction. Thus they
require the geosynthetic to be tested together with a sample of the on-site soil in order to
obtain a direct assessment of the property of interest. Since performance tests are
performed under specific design conditions with soils from the construction site,
manufacturers should not be expected to have the capability or the responsibility to
perform such tests. These tests should be performed under the direction of the design
engineer. Performance tests properties are not normally used in specifications; rather, the
geosynthetic are preselected for performance testing based on index values. Sometimes,
performance test results are correlated to index values for use in specifications. How
performance tests can be used in practice is discussed in the section on Specifications later in
this chapter.

Brief descriptions of some of the basic properties of geosynthetics and their tests are
presented below (after Christopher and Dahlstrand, 1989). Note G = general property; I =
index property, and P = performance property.

Mass per Unit Area (G): Area is used as opposed to volume due to variations in thickness
under normal stress. This property is mainly used to identify different materials. See ASTM
D 5261.

Thickness (G): Thickness is not usually required information for geotextiles except in
permeability and hydraulic flow calculations. It may be used for product comparison of
geotextiles or as a primary identifier for geomembranes. When needed, it can be simply
obtained using the procedure in ASTM D 5199. The nominal thickness is measured under a
normal stress of 2 kPa (0.29 psi) for geotextiles and 20 kPa (2.9 psi) for smooth
geomembranes, geonets, etc.

Tensile Strength (I): To understand the load-strain characteristics, it is important to consider


the complete load-strain curve. It is also important to consider the nature of the test and the
testing environment. With most materials, strength and modulus have units of stress.
However, because of the thin, two-dimensional nature of geosynthetics, stress would be
awkward to measure. Therefore, it is conventional with geosynthetics to use force per unit
length measured along the width of the material. Then strength and modulus have units of
FL-1 (i.e., kN/m).

There are several types of uniaxial tensile strength tests. Details about the specific
geosynthetic specimen shapes, clamping devices, and loading rates are given in the ASTM
standards referenced in Table 1-4. The tests all give different results that can only be
compared qualitatively.

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The grab tensile test (ASTM D 4632) is an unusual test, and although it is widely used, its
results are almost universally misused. The grab tensile test normally uses 1-in. (25 mm)
wide jaw clamps to grip a 4-in. (100 mm) wide specimen. The strength is reported as the
total force needed to cause failurenot the force per unit width. It is not obvious how the
tensile force is distributed across the specimen because it is wider than the clamps. The
effect of this difference will depend on the interaction of the geotextile filaments. In
nonwoven geotextiles, these effects are large, but in wovens, they are probably small. The
grab test is useful as an index test, for specifications, and for product comparison. But it is
difficult, if not impossible, to relate grab results to actual tensile strength unless they are
directly correlated with, for example, wide-width tensile tests.

The single rib tensile test (ASTM 6637 – Method A) is also an index test because it does not
provide an evaluation of the uniformity of load distribution across a number of elements.
Non-uniformly aligned grid elements could lead to much lower strength values per width of
geogrid than indicated by single rib tests. Therefore single element tests should not be used
to evaluate the strength of geogrids unless the results have been correlated with multi-rib
tensile test results.

Plane-strain represents the loading condition for many practical applications. However,
because there is no standard plane strain test or procedure, in practice, plane strain loading is
approximated by a wide-width strip tensile test (ASTM D 4595 for geotextiles and D 6637
for geogrids). Since narrow strip geosynthetic specimens usually neck when strained, wide-
width strip tensile tests are performed on short wide specimens (length to width ratio 2:1).
Although the wide-width test is really an index test, it is commonly used to approximate the
in-soil geosynthetic strength in soil reinforcing applications.

Geosynthetics may have different strengths in different directions. Therefore, tests should be
conducted in both principal directions, and the results clearly stated as to direction of testing
(whether machine direction and/or cross-machine direction). In addition to specimen length
to width ratio, clamping arrangements, and direction of loading, tensile load-strain tests are
influenced by rate of loading, temperature, moisture, lateral restraint, and confinement.

Creep is a time-dependent mechanical property. It is the strain that occurs at constant load.
Creep tests can be run using any type the tensile test, but they are most frequently performed
on a wide-width specimen by applying a constant load for a sustained period. Creep tests are
influenced by the same factors as tensile load-strain tests - specimen length to width ratio,
temperature, moisture, lateral restraint, and confinement.

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Short-term creep strain is strongly influenced by the geosynthetic structure. Geogrids and
woven geotextiles have the least creep, heat-bonded geotextiles are intermediate, and needle
punched geotextiles have the most creep. Longer-term creep rates are controlled by structure
and polymer type. Of the most common polymers, polyester has lower creep rates than
polypropylene.

The creep limit is probably the most important geosynthetic creep characteristic. It is the
sustained load per unit width above which the geosynthetic will creep to rupture. Just as with
creep rates, the creep limit is controlled by the polymer type. It ranges from 20% of the
short-term ultimate strength of low tenacity polypropylene geosynthetics to 60% for
polyesters geosynthetics.

Rupture Resistance: The burst test is performed by applying a normal pressure (by a solid
CBR piston, air or hydraulic fluid) against a geosynthetic specimen clamped in a ring.
Although the burst strength is given in units of pressure, it is not the real stress in the
geosynthetic, but rather it is the normal stress acting on the geosynthetic at failure. Burst
strength is a function of the diameter of the test specimen; therefore, care must be used in
comparing test results on different materials. Because the test pressure is applied to the
specimen in all directions, the ultimate value is controlled by the weakest direction.

Friction: Soil-geosynthetic and geosynthetic-geosynthetic friction are important properties


for many applications. It is common to assume a soil-geosynthetic friction value between 2/3
and one times the soil friction angle. Caution is advised for geomembranes where soil-
geosynthetic friction angle may be much lower than the soil friction angle. For important
applications, tests should be run on samples of the proposed geosynthetics and on-site soils.

The direct shear friction test is simple in principle, but numerous details must be considered
for accurate results. The equipment is quite large in order to reduce boundary effects.
According to ASTM D 5321 the minimum shear box size is 12-in. by 12-in. (300 by 300
mm). For many geosynthetics, the measured friction angle depends on the types of soils on
each side of the geosynthetic specimen, as well as on the normal stress; therefore, test
conditions must model the actual field conditions. Since soil is involved, this test is
obviously a performance test.

Durability Properties: In most geosynthetics applications, durability and longevity must be


considered. Exposure to ultraviolet light can weaken and degrade many geosynthetics. The
geosynthetic polymer must be compatible with the chemistry of the environment. The soil
and groundwater should be checked for such items as high and low pH, chlorides, organics,
and oxidation agents. Ferruginous soils (those containing Fe2SO3), calcareous soils, and acid

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sulfate soils can be especially detrimental to geosynthetics over time. Other detrimental
environmental factors include chemical solvents and well as gasoline, diesel, and other fuels.
Each geosynthetic polymer is different in terms of its resistance to aging and attack by
chemical and biological agents. Therefore, each product must be investigated individually to
determine the effects of these durability factors. The best source of this information is
usually the geosynthetic manufacturer. They are usually able to supply the results of product
exposure studies, including, but not limited to, strength reduction due to aging, deterioration
in ultraviolet light, chemical attack, microbiological attack, environmental stress cracking,
hydrolysis, and any possible synergism between individual factors.

Guidelines on soil environments and on geosynthetics properties are presented in the FHWA
Corrosion/Degradation of Soil Reinforcements for Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls and
Reinforced Soil Slopes (Elias, 1997). This research has been summarized and recommended
aging reduction factors—basically safety factorsfor soil reinforcement applications is
presented in FHWA (1997)(see Appendix H). With supporting data, a durability reduction
factor as low as 1.1 may be used.

Hydraulic Properties: The hydraulic properties of geosynthetics include their opening


characteristics, hydraulic conductivity (permeability and permittivity), soil retention ability,
clogging potential, and in some cases, their transmissivity. These are all index properties, and
basically they relate to the pore sizes in the geosynthetic. Hydraulic properties may also be
affected by chemical and biological agents. Precipitates as well as slime growth have been
known to clog filter systems (granular filters as well as geotextiles).

The ability of a geotextile to retain soil particles is directly related to its apparent opening
size (AOS) which is the largest hole in the geotextile. The AOS value is equal to the size of
the largest particle that can effectively pass through the geotextile in a dry sieving test
(ASTM D 4751). Another method of obtaining the opening characteristics, including the
AOS value, is the Capillary Flow or Bubble Point Method (ASTM D 6767). This procedure
allows for an evaluation of the complete pore size distribution (PSD), although as indicated
in the ASTM standard, it my not be applicable to more open woven geotextiles with a pore
size of greater than 200 µm.

The ability of water to pass through a geotextile is determined from its hydraulic conductivity
(coefficient of permeability, k), as measured in a permeability test. The flow capacity of the
material can then be determined from Darcy's law. Due to the compressibility of geotextiles,
the permittivity ψ (permeability divided by thickness) is usually determined from the test
(ASTM D 4491) and used to directly evaluate flow capacity. Permeability and permittivity
are index properties. The ability of water to pass through a geotextile during the entire life of

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the project is dependent on its filtration potential, that is, its ability not to clog with soil
particles. Essentially, if the finer particles of soil can pass through the geotextile, it should
not clog. Effective filtration can be evaluated through relations between the geotextile's pore
size distribution and the soil's grain size distribution; however, such formulations are still in
the development phase. For a precise evaluation, laboratory performance testing of the
proposed soil and candidate geotextile should be conducted.

For sandy and silty soils (k ≥ 10-7 m/s), the only standard filtration test is the gradient ratio
test (ASTM D 5101). In this test, a rigid wall permeameter with strategically located
piezometer ports is used to measure the head loss in the soil alone to the head loss at the soil-
geotextile interface under different hydraulic gradients. The ratio of these two gradients is the
gradient ratio. Although ASTM indicates that the test may be terminated after 24 hours, to
obtain meaningful results, the test should be continued until the flow rate has clearly
stabilized. This may occur within 24 hours, but could require several weeks, especially if
significant fines are present in the soil.

A gradient ratio of one or less is preferred. Less than one is an indication that fine soil
particles have passed the filter and that a more open filter bridge has developed in the soil
adjacent to the geotextile. However, a continued decrease in the gradient ratio below one
indicates piping, and an alternate geotextile should be evaluated. On the other hand, a high
gradient ratio indicates that a flow reduction has occurred in the geotextile, most likely due to
geotextile clogging. If the gradient ratio approaches three (the recommended maximum by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1977), the flow rate through the system should be
carefully evaluated with respect to the design and system performance requirements. A
continued increase in the gradient ratio indicates clogging, and the geotextile is unacceptable.

For fine-grained soils, the hydraulic conductivity ratio (HCR) test (ASTM D 5567) should be
considered. This test uses a flexible wall permeameter and evaluates the long-term
permeability under increasing gradients with respect to the short-term permeability of the
system at the lowest hydraulic gradient. A decrease in HCR indicates a flow reduction in the
system. Since measurements are not taken near the geotextile-soil interface and soil
permeability is not measured, it is questionable whether an HCR decrease is the result of
flow reduction at the geotextile or blinding within the soil matrix itself. An improvement to
this method would be to include piezometer or transducers within these zones (after the
gradient ratio method) to aid in interpretation of the results. In addition, it is very difficult to
ensure that the specimen is fully saturated without backpressure.

Other filtration tests for clogging potential include the Caltrans slurry filtration test (Hoover,
1982), which was developed by Legge (1990) into the Fine Fraction filtration (F3) test

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(Sansone and Koerner, 1992), and the Long-Term Flow (LTF) test (Koerner and Ko, 1982;
GRI Test Method GT1, 1993). According to Fischer (1994), all of these tests have serious
disadvantages that make them less suitable than the Gradient Ratio (GR) test for determining
the filtration behavior of the soil-geotextile system. The GR test typically must be run longer
than the ASTM-specified 24 hours, and proper attention must be paid to the test details
(Maré, 1994) to get reproducible results.

A recent development is the Flexible Wall GR test (Harney and Holtz, 2001, Bailey et al.,
2005, and Harney et al., 2007). This test combines the best features of the GR test (D 5101)
and the flexible wall permeability test (D 5084). Just as with the GR test, multiple ports are
placed along the soil column to accurately determine head losses. Application of back
pressure ensures that the specimens are 100% saturated. Research indicated that the FWGR
yielded consistent and accurate results, and in significantly less time than the GR, for all
geotextiles tested with fine-grained soils. Preliminary indications of the steady-state
filtration behavior can be obtained in less than 24 hours and all the FWGR tests achieved
constant filtration behavior within five days. The HCR yielded inconclusive and inaccurate
results for most of the soils and geotextiles tested. The GR test can still be used for filtration
testing of coarse-grained soils, but if they contain even a few percent of fines or for fine-
grained soils, the FWGR is the preferred test.

Additional hydraulic properties that may be required in filtration design are the Percent Open
Area (POA) and the porosity (n). As noted in Table 1-4, there are no standard tests for these
properties, although there is a suggested procedure for POA given by Christopher and Holtz
(1985) and which follows Corps of Engineers procedures. Basically, POA is determined on a
light table or by projection enlargement. Porosity is readily calculated just as it is with soils;
that is, porosity is the volume of the voids divided by the total volume. The total volume is,
for example, 1 m2 times the nominal thickness of the geotextile. The volume of voids is the
total volume minus the volume of the fibers and filaments (solids), or the mass of 1 m2
divided by the specific gravity of the polymer.

National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP). Four times a year the
NTPEP evaluates geotextiles and geogrids in accordance with AASHTO M 288. Two state
laboratories conduct the tests. On their website (http://data.ntpep.org/home/index.asp), the
section on Geotextiles And Geosynthetics contains results for geotextile evaluations.

Rolled Erosion Control Products are evaluated using laboratory-scale test methods
established by the Erosion Control Technology Council. Submissions for products are
accepted four times a year, and testing is performed by a private laboratory. The section on
the website Rolled Erosion Control Products contains results these evaluations.

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1.6 SPECIFICATIONS

When highway engineers first started using geosynthetics, their specifications were very
simple: use Brand X or equal. That approach was probably OK when there were only a few
products available, but today, with literally hundreds of different geosynthetics on the market
with a wide variety of properties, specifications should be based on the specific geosynthetic
properties required for design, installation, and durability. The use of “standard”
geosynthetics may result in uneconomical or unsafe designs. Specifying a particular type of
geosynthetic or its equivalent can also be very misleading. What is equivalent? A contractor
may select a product that has completely different properties than intended by the designer.

Specifications can be classified as generic, performance, approved list, and approved


supplier. For most routine applications, generic specifications are preferred because they are
based on the geosynthetic properties required by the design, installation and construction
conditions, and durability requirements of the project. Performance specifications require
testing of the geosynthetic together with soils from the project. (Recall that the engineer is
responsible for performance tests, not the contractor or manufacturer.) Thus the agency or
owner has to pre-select geosynthetics based on experience or index tests and then obtain
representative samples of soils from the project. In some situations, it may be better to
require the contractor to submit, in advance of construction, samples of the proposed
geosynthetics and soils from the project site or from a proposed borrow area to the engineer
for testing. Realistically, performance testing takes time, often weeks, so the contract must
clearly specify how far in advance of product installation that the samples must be submitted
to the engineer for testing and approval.

Some state agencies use an approved list type of specification. This approach has several
advantages, especially for routine applications, and it minimizes the chances for unwarranted
product substitutions to be made in the field. However, development of an approved list
program will require the agency to do considerable up-front testing to insure that products on
their approved list will actually work for a particular application and for their soils and site
conditions. But once it is established, it provides a simple, convenient method of specifying
geosynthetics with confidence. As new geosynthetics become available, they can be added
to the list after additional testing. The list has to be continually updated too, as the
manufacturing process may have changed since products were first approved. Samples
should be periodically obtained so they can be examined alongside the original tested
specimens to verify consistency in materials and any changes in the manufacturing process.
Note that the purpose of the NTPEP program mentioned above is to reduce the need for each
state to perform its own up-front testing to develop an approved products list.

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Most agencies have used an approved supplier specification for patented reinforced wall
systems because the material suppliers also provide a “free” design of the wall. However,
this practice has both advantages and disadvantages, as discussed in Chapter 9.

In almost every chapter of this manual, guide specifications are given for the particular
application discussed in the chapter. See Richardson and Koerner (1990) and Koerner and
Wayne (1989) for additional guide specifications.

All geosynthetic specifications should include:


• general requirements
• specific geosynthetic properties
• seams and overlaps
• placement procedures
• repairs, and
• acceptance and rejection criteria

General requirements include the product type(s), acceptable polymeric materials, mass per
unit area, roll dimensions if relevant, etc. Geosynthetic manufacturers and representatives are
good sources of information on these characteristics. Other items that should be specified in
this section are instructions on storage and handling so products can be protected from
ultraviolet exposure, dust, mud, or any other elements that may affect performance.
Guidelines concerning on-site storage and handling of geotextiles are contained in ASTM D
4873, Standard Guide for Identification, Storage, and Handling of Geotextiles. Finally,
certification requirements also should be included in this section.

Specific geosynthetic physical, index, and performance properties as required by the


design must be listed. Properties should be given in terms of minimum (or maximum)
average roll values (MARVs), along with the required test methods. MARVs are simply the
smallest (or largest) anticipated average value that would be obtained for any roll tested
(ASTM D 4439; Koerner, 2006). This average property value must exceed the minimum (or
be less than the maximum) value specified for that property based on a particular standard
test. Ordinarily it is possible to obtain a manufacturer's certification for MARVs.

Seam and overlap requirements should be clearly specified. A minimum overlap of 1 foot
(0.3 m) is recommended for all geotextile applications, but overlaps may be increased due to
specific site and construction requirements. Sewing of seams, discussed in Section 1.8, may
be required for very soft foundation conditions. Also, sometimes geotextiles are supplied
with factory-sewn seams. The seam strengths specified should equal the required strength of
the geosynthetic in the direction perpendicular to the seam length and using the same test

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procedures. For designs where wide width tests are used (e.g., reinforced embankments on
soft foundations), the required seam strength is a calculated design value required for
stability. Therefore, seam strengths should never be specified as a percent of the
geosynthetic strength.

Geogrids and geonets may be overlapped or connected by mechanical fasteners, though the
connection may be either structural or a construction aid (i.e., when strength perpendicular to
the seam length is not required)(see Section 1.8). Geomembranes are normally thermally
bonded (extrusion welded) and, as discussed in Chapter 10, seams are specified in terms of
peel and shear strengths.

For sewn geotextiles, geomembranes, and structurally connected geogrids, the seaming
material (thread, extrudate, or fastener) should consist of polymeric materials that have the
same or greater durability as the geosynthetic being seamed. For example, nylon thread,
unless treated, which is often used for geotextile seams may weaken in time as it absorbs
water. See Section 1.9 for additional information on field seams and anticipated seam
strength values.

Placement procedures should be given in detail in the specifications and on the construction
drawings. These procedures should include grading and ground-clearing requirements,
aggregate specifications, minimum aggregate lift thickness, and equipment requirements.
These requirements are especially important if the geosynthetic was selected on the basis of
survivability. Orientation and direction of geosynthetic placement should also be clearly
specified on the construction drawings. Detailed placement procedures are described in each
application chapter.

Repair procedures for damaged sections of geosynthetics (i.e., rips and tears) should be
detailed. Included are requirements for overlaps, sewn seams, fused seams, or complete
replacement of the damaged product. For overlap repairs, the geosynthetic should extend the
minimum of the overlap length requirement from all edges of the tear or rip (i.e., if a 1 foot
(0.3 m) overlap is required, the patch should extend at least 1 foot (0.3 m) from all edges of
the tear). In reinforcement applications, it is best that the specifications require complete
replacement of a damaged section. Finally, the contract documents should very clearly state
that final approval of the repairs is determined by the engineer, and that payment for repairs
is the responsibility of he contractor.

Acceptance and rejection criteria for the geosynthetic materials should be clearly stated in
the specifications. It is very important that all installations be observed by a designer’s
representative who is knowledgeable about geotextile placement procedures and who is

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aware of design requirements. Sampling (e.g., ASTM D 4354, Standard Practice for
Sampling of Geosynthetics for Testing) and testing requirements for quality assurance that
are required during construction should also be specified. Guidelines for acceptance and
rejection of geosynthetic shipments are given in ASTM D 4759, Standard Practice for
Determining the Specification Conformance of Geosynthetics.

For small projects, the cost of ASTM acceptance/rejection criterion testing is often a
significant portion of the total project cost and may even exceed the cost of the geosynthetic
itself. In such cases, a certification by the manufacturer should be required. In this case,
collect a few samples from the rolls for future evaluation and confirmation, if required.

1.7 FIELD INSPECTION

Problems with geosynthetics are often due to poor product acceptance and construction
monitoring procedures on the part of the owner, and/or inappropriate installation methods on
the part of the contractor. A checklist for field personnel responsible for observing a
geosynthetic installation is presented in Table 1-5. Recommended installation methods are
presented in the application chapters.

1.8 FIELD SEAMING

Some form of geosynthetic seaming will be necessary for those applications that require
continuity between adjacent rolls, and that includes all the applications discussed in this
manual. Seaming techniques include overlapping, sewing, stapling, tying, heat bonding,
welding, and gluing. Some of these techniques are more suitable for certain types of
geosynthetics than others. For example, the most efficient and widely used methods for
geotextiles are overlapping and sewing, and these techniques are discussed first.

Simple overlap will be suitable for most geotextile and biaxial geogrid projects. The
minimum overlap is 1 foot (0.3 m). Greater overlaps may be required for specific
applications. Note that the only strength provided by an overlap is the friction between
adjacent sheets of geotextiles, or for biaxial geogrids, by friction and fill strike-through of the
apertures. Unless overburden pressures are large and the overlap substantial, very little stress
can actually be transferred through the overlap between adjacent rolls. If overlaps will be
used to transfer stress from one geosynthetic to another, then interface shear strength test
should be performed using the pullout or direct shear methods to evaluate the strength of the
field configuration. In this case, durable ties (e.g., galvanized hog rings or industrial

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polypropylene/polyethylene zip ties) should be used to assure that the geosynthetics maintain
their relative position of the geosynthetics after placement and provide an additional level of
safety.
Table 1-5
Geosynthetic Field Inspection Checklist

‪ 1. Read the specifications.


‪ 2. Review the construction plans.
‪ 3. Determine if the geosynthetic is specified by (a) specific properties or (b) an
approved products list.
(a)For specification by specific properties, check listed material properties of the
supplied geosynthetic from published literature or against the specific property
values specified. Or
(b) Obtain the geosynthetic name(s), type, and style, along with a small sample(s) of
approved material(s) from the design engineer. Check supplied geosynthetic
type and style for conformance to approved material(s). If the geosynthetic is
not listed, reject it. In some cases, you may want to contact the designer with a
description of the material and request an evaluation before permitting it to be
installed.
‪ 4. When the geosynthetics are delivered to the site, check the rolls to see that they
are properly stored; check for damage.
‪ 5. Check roll and lot numbers to verify whether they match certification documents.
‪ 6. Cut two samples 4 to 6 in. (100 mm to 150 mm) square from a roll. Staple one to
your copy of the specifications for comparison with future shipments and send
one to the design engineer for approval or information.
‪ 7. Observe materials in each roll to make sure they are the same. Observe rolls for
flaws and nonuniformity.
‪ 8. Obtain test samples according to specification requirements from randomly
selected rolls. Mark the machine direction on each sample and note the roll
number. Take at least one archive sample of each geosynthetic, even if testing is
not required.
‪ 9. Observe construction to see that the contractor complies with specification
requirements for installation.
‪ 10. Check all seams, both factory and field, for any missed stitches in geotextile. If
necessary, either reseam or reject materials.
‪ 11. If possible, check geosynthetic after aggregate or riprap placement for possible
damage. This can be done either by constructing a trial installation, or by
removing a small section of aggregate or riprap and observing the geosynthetic
after placement and compaction of the aggregate, at the beginning of the
project. If perforations, tears, or other damage has occurred, contact the design
engineer immediately.
‪ 12. Check future shipments against the initial approved shipment and collect
additional test samples. Collect samples of seams, both factory and field, for
testing. For field seams, have the contractor sew several meters of a dummy
seam(s) for testing and evaluation.

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If overlaps become excessive or stress transfer is required between two adjacent rolls, then
sewing offers a practical and economical alternative for geotextiles. For typical projects and
conditions, sewing is generally more economical when overlaps of 3 ft (1 m) or greater are
required. To obtain good-quality, effective seams, the user should be aware of the following
sewing variables (Ko, 1987; Diaz and Myles, 1990; Koerner, 2006):
• Thread type: Kevlar aramid, polyethylene, polyester, or polypropylene (in
approximate order of decreasing strength and cost). Thread durability must be
consistent with project requirements.
• Thread tension: Usually adjusted in the field to be sufficiently tight, but not so tight
that the thread cuts the geotextile.
• Stitch density: Typically, 200 to 400 stitches per yard (m) of seam are used for
lighter-weight geotextiles, while heavier geotextiles usually allow only 150 to 200
stitches per yard (m).
• Stitch type (Figure 1-2(a)): Single- or double-thread chain stitch, Type 101, or a
double-thread lock stitch, Type 401. A lock stitch is preferred because it is less likely
to unravel.
• Number of rows: Usually two parallel rows of stitches are preferred for increased
safety.
• Seam type (Figure 1-2(b)): Flat or prayer seams, J- or Double J-type seams, or
butterfly seams are the most widely used. Butterfly seams are usually only done in
factories.

When properly made, sewn seams can provide reliable stress transfer between adjacent
sheets of geotextile. However, there are several points with regard to seam strength that
should be understood, as follows.
1. Due to needle damage and stress concentrations at the stitch, sewn seams are weaker
than the geotextile (good, high-quality seams have only about 50% to 80% of the
intact geotextile strength based on wide width tests).
2. Grab strength results are influenced by the stitches, so the test yields artificially high
seam strengths. Grab test should only be used for quality control and not to
determine strength.
3. The maximum seam strengths achievable at this time are on the order of 14,000 lb/ft
(200 kN/m) under factory conditions, using 23,000 lb/ft (330 kN/m) geotextiles.
4. Field seam strengths will most likely be lower than laboratory or factory seam
strengths.
5. All stitches can unravel, although lock-type stitches are less likely to do so.
6. Unraveling can be avoided by utilizing high-quality equipment and proper selection
of needles, thread, seam and stitch type, and by using two or more rows of stitches.
7. Careful inspection of all stitches is essential.

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Field sewing is relatively simple and usually requires two or three laborers, depending on the
geotextile, seam type, and sewing machine. Good seams require careful control of the
operation, cleanliness, and protection from the elements. However, adverse field conditions
can easily complicate sewing operations. Although most portable sewing machines are
electric, pneumatic equipment is available for operating in wet environments.

Since the seam is the weakest link in the geotextile, all seams, including factory seams,
should be carefully inspected. To facilitate inspection and repair, the geotextile should be
placed (or at least inspected prior to placement) with all seams up (Figure. 1-2(c)). Using a
contrasting thread color can facilitate inspection. Procedures for testing sewn seams are
given in ASTM D 4884, Standard Test Method for Seam Strength of Sewn Geotextiles.

Seaming of biaxial geogrids and geocomposites is most commonly achieved by overlaps, and
the remarks above on overlap of geotextiles are generally appropriate to these products.
Again an interface shear test should be performed on adjacent layers if load transfer between
geosynthetic rolls is required. Uniaxial geogrids are normally butted in the along-the-roll
direction. Seams in the roll direction of uniaxial geogrids are made with a bodkin joint for
HDPE geogrids, as illustrated in Figure 1-3, and may be made with overlaps for coated PET
geogrids. Mechanical ties (e.g., plastic ties) can also been used provided the seam strength
has been tested and the ties meet the design life requirements (i.e., same as the geogid).

Seaming of geomembranes and other geosynthetic barriers is much more varied. The method
of seaming is dependent upon the geosynthetic material being used and the project design.
Overlaps of a designated length are typically used for thin-film geotextile composites and
geosynthetic clay liners. Geomembranes are seamed with thermal methods or with solvents.

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(c) Improper seam placement – cannot inspect or repair

Figure 1-2. Types of (a) stitches and (b) seams, according to Federal Standard No. 751a
(1965); and (c) improper seam placement.

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Figure 1-3. Bodkin connection of HDPE uniaxial geogrid.

1.9 REFERENCES

Reference lists are provided at the end of chapter (and appendix). Note that FHWA
references are generally available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge (under the publications and
geotechnical tabs) and/or at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov (under the training and NHI store tabs).
Detailed lists of specific ASTM (2006) and GRI (2006) test procedures are presented in
Appendix E. Koerner (2006) is a recent, comprehensive textbook on geosynthetics and is a
key reference for designers. The bibliographies by Giroud (1993, 1994) contain references
for publications on geosynthetics before January 1, 1993.

AASHTO (2006). Standard Specifications for Geotextiles - M 288, Standard Specifications


for Transportation Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing, 26th Edition,
American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington,
D.C.

AASHTO (1990a). Task Force 25 Report — Guide Specifications and Test Procedures for
Geotextiles, Subcommittee on New Highway Materials, American Association of
State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington, D.C.

AASHTO (1990b). Design Guidelines for Use of Extensible Reinforcements (Geosynthetic)


for Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls in Permanent Applications, Task Force 27
Report - In Situ Soil Improvement Techniques, American Association of State
Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington, D.C.

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ASTM (2006). Annual Books of ASTM Standards, American International, West
Conshohocken, PA:
Volume 4.08 (I), Soil and Rock
Volume 4.09 (II), Soil and Rock
Volume 4.13 Geosynthetics – see Appendix E for full listing
Volume 7.01, 7.02 Textiles
Volume 8.01, 8.02, 8.03, Plastics

Bailey, T. D., Harney, M. D., and Holtz, R. D. (2005). Rapid Assessment of Geotextile
Clogging Potential Using the Flexible Wall Gradient Ratio Test, Proceedings of the
GRI-18 Conference, Austin, Texas (CD-ROM), ASCE.

Boyle, S. R., Holtz, R. D., and Gallagher, M. (1996). Influence of Strain Rate, Specimen
Length, and Confinement on Measured Geotextile Strength Properties,
Geosynthetics International, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 205-225.

Boyle, S. R. (1995). Deformation Prediction of Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Retaining


Walls, PhD Dissertation, University of Washington, Seattle, 392 pp.

Christopher, B.R. and Dahlstrand, T.K. (1989). Geosynthetics in Dams - Design and Use,
Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Lexington, KY, 311 p.

Christopher, B.R. and Holtz, R.D. (1985). Geotextile Engineering Manual, FHWA-TS-
86/203, 1044 p.

Diaz, V. and Myles, B. (1990). Field Sewing of Geotextiles--A Guide to Seam Engineering,
Industrial Fabrics Association Internationals, St. Paul, MN, 29 p.

Elias, V., Christopher, B.R. and Berg, R.R. (2001). Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls and
Reinforced Soil Slopes, Design & Construction Guidelines, FHWA-NHI-00-043,
418 p.

Elias, V., Yuan, Z., Swan, R.H. and Bachus, R.C. (1998). Development of Protocols for
Confined Extension/Creep Testing of Geosynthetics for Highway Applications,
FHWA RD-97-143.

Elias, V. (1997). Corrosion/Degradation of Soil Reinforcements for Mechanically Stabilized


Earth Walls and Reinforced Soil Slope, FHWA-SA-96-072, 105 p.

Fannin, R. J. (2000) Basic Geosynthetics: A Guide to Best Practices, BiTech Publishers,


Richmond, BC, 86 p.

Federal Standards (1965). Federal Standard Stitches, Seams, and Stitching, No. 751a, Jan.

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FHWA (1997). Degradation Reduction Factors for Geosynthetics, FHWA Geotechnology
Technical Note, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of
Transportation, May 1997, 5 p. Also reprinted as: Elias, V., DiMaggio, J.A. and
DiMillio, A., FHWA Technical Note on the Degradation-Reduction Factors for
Geosynthetics, Geotechnical Fabrics Report, Vol. 15, No. 6, Industrial Fabrics
Association International, St. Paul, MN, August 1997, pp. 24-26.

Fischer, G.R. (1994). The Influence of Fabric Pore Structure on the Behavior of Geotextile
Filters, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 498 p.

Giroud, J.P., with cooperation of Beech, J.F. and Khatami, A. (1994). Geosynthetics
Bibliography, Volume II, IGS, Industrial Fabrics Association International, St. Paul,
MN, 940 p.

Giroud, J.P., with cooperation of Beech, J.F. and Khatami, A. (1993). Geosynthetics
Bibliography, Volume I, IGS, Industrial Fabrics Association International, St. Paul,
MN, 781 p.

GRI (2006). Test Methods & Standards, Geosynthetic Research Institute, Drexel University,
Philadelphia, PA.

GRI (1993). Test Method GT1, Geotextile Filter Performance via Long Term Flow (LTF)
Tests, Standard Test Method, Geosynthetic Research Institute, Drexel University,
Philadelphia, PA.

Harney, M. D. and Holtz, R. D. (2001). Flexible Wall Gradient Ratio Test, Proceedings of
Geosynthetics Conference 2001, Portland, Oregon, Industrial Fabrics Association
International, pp. 409-422.

Harney, M. D., Bailey, T. D., and Holtz, R. D. (2007). Clogging Potential of Geotextile
Filters Using the Flexible Wall Gradient Ratio Test, Geotechnical Testing Journal,
ASTM (accepted for publication).

Holtz, R.D., Tobin, W.R. and Burke, W.W. (1982). Creep Characteristics and Stress-Strain
Behavior of a Geotextile-Reinforced Sand, Proceedings of the Second International
Conference on Geotextiles, Las Vegas, Nevada, Vol. 3, pp. 805-809.

Hoover, T.P. (1982). Laboratory Testing of Geotextile Fabric Filters, Proceedings of the
Second International Conference on Geotextiles, Las Vegas, Nevada, Vol. 3, pp. 839-
844.

IGS (2000). Recommended Mathematical and Graphical Symbols, International Geosynthetic


Society, 17 p. [http://geosyntheticssociety.org/guideance.htm]

Ingold, T.S. and Miller, K.S. (1988). Geotextiles Handbook, Thomas Telford Ltd., London,
152 p.

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Ko, F.K. (1987). Seaming and Joining Methods, Geotextiles and Geomembranes, Vol. 6,
Nos. 1-3, pp 93-107.

Koerner, R.M. (2006). Designing With Geosynthetics, 5th Edition, Prentice-Hall Inc.,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 816 p.

Koerner, R.M. and Wayne M.H. (1989). Geotextile Specifications for Highway Applications,
FHWA-TS-89-026, 90 p.

Koerner, R.M. and Ko, F.K. (1982). Laboratory Studies on Long-Term Drainage Capability
of Geotextiles, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Geotextiles,
Las Vegas, NV, Vol. I, pp. 91-95.

Legge, K.R. (1990). A New Approach to Geotextile Selection, Proceedings of the Fourth
International Conference on Geotextiles, Geomembranes and Related Products, The
Hague, Netherlands, Vol. 1., pp. 269-272.

Maré, A.D. (1994). The Influence of Gradient Ratio Testing Procedures on the Filtration
Behavior of Geotextiles, MSCE Thesis, University of Washington.

Rankilor, P.R. (1981). Membranes in Ground Engineering, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,
Chichester, England, 377 p.

Richardson, G.R. and Koerner, R.M., Editors (1990). A Design Primer: Geotextiles and
Related Materials, Industrial Fabrics Association International, St. Paul, MN, 166 p.

Sansone, L.J. and Koerner, R.M. (1992). Fine Fraction Filtration Test to Assess Geotextile
Filter Performance, Geotextiles and Geomembranes, Vol. 11, Nos. 4-6, pp. 371-393.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1977). Civil Works Construction Guide Specification for
Plastic Filter Fabric, Corps of Engineer Specifications No. CW-02215, Office, Chief
of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.

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2.0 GEOSYNTHETICS IN SUBSURFACE DRAINAGE SYSTEMS

2.1 BACKGROUND

A major use of geotextiles is as filters in drainage applications such as trench and interceptor
drains, blanket drains, pavement edge drains, structure drains, and beneath permeable
roadway bases. The filter restricts movement of soil particles as water flows into the drain or
drainage layer and is collected and/or transported downstream. Geocomposites consisting of
a drainage core surrounded by a geotextile filter are often used as the drain itself in these
applications. Geotextiles are also used as filters beneath hard armor erosion control systems,
and this application is discussed in Chapter 3.

Because of their comparable performance, improved economy, consistent properties, and


ease of placement, geotextiles have been used successfully to replace graded granular filters
in almost all drainage applications. Thus, they must perform the same functions as graded
granular filters:
• allow water to flow through the filter into the drain, and to continue doing this
throughout the life of the project; and
• retain the soil particles in place and prevent their migration (piping) through the filter
(if some soil particles do move, they must be able to pass through the filter without
blinding or clogging the downstream media during the life of the project).

Geotextiles, like graded granular filters, require proper engineering design or they may not
perform as desired. Unless flow requirements, piping resistance, clogging resistance and
constructability requirements (defined later) are properly specified, the geotextile/soil
filtration system may not perform properly. In addition, construction must be monitored to
ensure that materials are installed correctly.

In most drainage and filtration applications, geotextile use can be justified over conventional
graded granular filter material use because of cost advantages from:
• the use of less-costly drainage aggregate;
• the possible use of smaller-sized drains;
• the possible elimination of collector pipes;
• expedient construction;
• lower risk of contamination and segregation of drainage aggregate during
construction;
• reduced excavation.

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In addition, geosynthetics often increase drainage system reliability and, considering the
value of drainage in geotechnical engineering, a significant cost-benefit can result when the
designer is assured of a properly performing drain.

2.2 APPLICATIONS

Properly designed geotextiles can be used as a replacement for, or in conjunction with,


conventional graded granular filters in almost any drainage application. Below are a few
examples of drainage applications. In many of these applications, properly designed
geocomposites can also be employed.

Filters around trench drains


and edge drains – to prevent
soil from migrating into the
drainage aggregate or system,
while allowing water to exit
from the soil.

Filters beneath pavement


permeable bases, blanket
drains and base courses.
Prefabricated geocomposite
drains are also used as blanket
drains and have been used as
horizontal drains in pavement
systems.

Geotextile wraps for slotted or


jointed drain and well pipes --
to prevent filter aggregate
from entering the pipe, while
allowing the free flow of water
into the pipe.

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Drains for structures such as
retaining walls and bridge
abutments. They separate the
drainage aggregate or system
from the backfill soil, while
allowing free drainage of
ground and infiltration water.
Geocomposite drains are
especially useful in this
application.

Interceptor, toe drains, and


surface drains -- to aid in the
stabilization of slopes by
allowing excess pore pressures
within the slope to dissipate,
and by preventing surface
erosion. Again, geocomposites
have been successfully used in
this application.

Chimney and toe drains for


earth dams and levees -- to
provide seepage control.

Typical geotextile
and geocomposite
pavement edge
drain applications
(NCHRP 1-37A).

In each of these applications, flow is through the geotextile -- that is, perpendicular to the
plane of the fabric. In other applications, such as vertical drains in soft foundation soils,
lateral drains below slabs and behind retaining walls, and gas transfer media, flow may occur

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both perpendicularly to and transversely in the plane of the geotextile. In many of these
applications, geocomposite drains may be appropriate. Design with geocomposite systems is
covered in Section 2.10.

2.3 GEOTEXTILE FILTER DESIGN – PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS

All geosynthetic designs should begin with an assessment of the criticality and severity of the
project conditions (see Table 2-1) for a particular application. Although first developed by
Carroll (1983) for drainage and filtration applications, the concept of critical-severe projects
– and, thus, the level of engineering responsibility required – will be applied to other
geosynthetic applications throughout this manual.

Table 2-1
Guidelines for Evaluating the Critical Nature or Severity
of Drainage And Erosion Control Applications
(after Carroll, 1983)
A. Critical Nature of the Project
Item Critical Less Critical

1. Risk of loss of life and/or


structural damage due to High None
drain failure:

2. Repair costs versus >>> = or <


installation costs of drain:

3. Evidence of drain clogging


before potential None Yes
catastrophic failure:

B. Severity of the Conditions


Item Severe Less Severe

1. Soil to be drained: Gap-graded, pipable, or Well-graded or uniform


dispersible

2. Hydraulic gradient: High Low

3. Flow conditions: Dynamic, cyclic, or Pulsating Steady state

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A few words about the condition of the soil to be drained (Table 2-1) are in order. First,
grain-size distribution curves for gap-graded, well-graded and uniform soils are illustrated in
Figure 2-1. Certain gap-graded and broadly graded soils may be internally unstable; that is,
they can experience piping or internal erosion. Figure 2-1 also shows two sandy-gravel (GP)
soils that are potentially unstable. Criteria for deciding whether a soil is internally unstable
are discussed in Section 2.4-1.c. On the other hand, a soil is internally stable if it is self-
filtering and if its own fine particles do not move through the pores of its coarser fraction
(LaFluer et al., 1993).

Dispersive soils are fine-grained natural soils that deflocculate in the presence of water and,
therefore, are highly susceptible to erosion and piping (Sherard, et al., 1972). See also
Sherard and Decker (1977) for more information on dispersive soils.

Figure 2-1. Grain-size distributions for several soils.

Designing with geotextiles for filtration is essentially the same as designing graded granular
filters. A geotextile is similar to a soil in that it has voids (pores) and particles (filaments and
fibers). However, because of the shape and arrangement of the filaments and the
compressibility of the structure with geotextiles, the geometric relationships between
filaments and voids is more complex than in soils. In geotextiles, pore size is measured
directly, rather than using particle size as an estimate of pore size, as is done with soils.
Since pore sizes can be directly measured, at least in theory, relatively simple relationships
between the pore sizes and particle sizes of the soil to be retained can be developed. Three
simple filtration concepts are used in the design process:

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1. If the size of the largest pore in the geotextile filter is smaller than the larger particles
of soil, soil particles that tend to move will be retained by the filter. As with graded
granular filters, the larger particles of soil will form a filter bridge over the hole,
which in turn, filters smaller particles of soil, which then retain the soil and prevent
piping (Figure 2-2).
2. If the smaller openings in the geotextile are sufficiently large enough to allow smaller
particles of soil to pass through the filter, then the geotextile will not blind or clog
(see Figure 2-3).
3. A large number of openings should be present in the geotextile so that water flow can
be maintained even if some of the openings later become plugged.

These simple concepts and analogies with soil filter design criteria are used to establish
design criteria for geotextiles. Specifically, these criteria are:
• the geotextile must retain the soil particles (retention criterion), while
• allowing water to pass (permeability criterion), throughout
the life of the structure (clogging resistance criterion and durability requirements). To
perform effectively, the geotextile must also survive the installation process (survivability or
constructability criterion).

After a detailed study of research carried out both in North America and in Europe on
conventional and geotextile filters, Christopher and Holtz (1985) developed the following
procedure, now called the FHWA filter design procedure, for the design of geotextile filters
for drainage (this chapter) and permanent erosion control applications (Chapter 3). The level
of design and testing required depends on the critical nature of the project and the severity of
the hydraulic and soil conditions (Table 2-1). Especially for critical projects, consideration
of the risks and the consequences of geotextile filter failure require great care in selecting the
appropriate geotextile. For such projects, and for severe hydraulic conditions, very
conservative designs are recommended. Geotextile selection should not be based on cost
alone. The cost of the geotextile is usually minor in comparison to the other components and
the construction costs of a drainage system. Also, do not try to save money by eliminating
laboratory soil-geotextile performance testing when such testing is required by the design
procedure.

A National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) study by Koerner et al.


(1994) of the performance of geotextiles in drainage systems indicated that the FHWA
design criteria developed by Christopher and Holtz (1985) were an excellent predictor of
filter performance, particularly for granular soils (<50% passing a No.200 (0.075 mm) sieve).

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Figure 2-2. Filter bridge formation.

Figure 2-3. Definitions of clogging and blinding (Bell and Hicks, 1980).

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2.4 FHWA FILTER DESIGN PROCEDURE

Based on the concepts just described, the FHWA filter design procedure has three design
criteria: retention, permeability, and clogging resistance. Survivability and durability also are
part of the design.

2.4-1 Retention Criteria


Because they put different demands on the geotextile filter, two flow conditions, steady state
and dynamic, are considered for retention.

2.4-1.a Steady State Flow Conditions

AOS or O95(geotextile) < B D85 (soil) [ 2 - 1]

where:
AOS = apparent opening size (see Table 1-3) (mm);
O95 = opening size in the geotextile for which 95% are smaller (mm);
AOS ≈ O95;
B = a coefficient (dimensionless); and
D85 = soil particle size for which 85% are smaller (mm).

The coefficient B ranges from 0.5 to 2 and is a function of the type of soil to be filtered, its
density, the uniformity coefficient Cu if the soil is granular, the type of geotextile (woven or
nonwoven), and the flow conditions.

For sands, gravelly sands, silty sands, and clayey sands (soils with less than 50% passing the
No.200 (0.075 mm) sieve per the Unified Soil Classification System), B is a function of the
uniformity coefficient, Cu. Therefore, for

Cu < 2 or > 8: B=1 [2 - 2a]

2 < Cu < 4: B = 0.5 Cu [2 - 2b]

4 < Cu < 8: B = 8/Cu [2 - 2c]

where:
Cu = D60/D10.

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Sandy soils which are not uniform (Figure 2-1) tend to bridge across the openings; thus, the
larger pores may actually be up to twice as large (B ≤ 2) as the larger soil particles because,
quite simply, two particles cannot pass through the same hole at the same time. Therefore,
use of the criterion B = 1 would be quite conservative for retention, and this criterion has
been used by, for example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

If the protected granular soils contain appreciable fines, use only the portion passing the No.4
(4.75 mm) sieve for selecting the geotextile (i.e., scalp off the + No.4 (+4.75 mm) material).

For silts and clays (soils with more than 50% passing the No.200 (0.075 mm) sieve), B is a
function of the type of geotextile:

for woven geotextiles, B = 1; O95 < D85 [2 - 3]


for nonwoven geotextiles, B = 1.8; O95 < 1.8 D85 [2 - 4]

and for both, AOS or O95 < 0.3 mm [2 - 5]

Due to their random pore characteristics and, in some types, their felt-like nature, nonwoven
geotextiles will generally retain finer particles than a woven geotextile of the same AOS.
Therefore, the use of B = 1 will be even more conservative for nonwoven geotextiles.

2.4-1.b Dynamic Flow Conditions


If the geotextile is not properly weighted down and in intimate contact with the soil to be
protected, or if dynamic, cyclic, or pulsating loading conditions produce high localized
hydraulic gradients, then soil particles can move behind the geotextile. Thus, the use of B =
1 is not conservative, because the bridging network will not develop and the geotextile will
be required to retain even finer particles. When retention is the primary criteria, B should be
reduced to 0.5; or:

O95 < 0.5 D85 [2 -6]

Dynamic flow conditions can occur in pavement drainage applications. For reversing
inflow-outflow or high-gradient situations, it is best to maintain sufficient weight on the filter
to prevent the geotextile from moving. Dynamic flow conditions with erosion control
systems are discussed in Chapter 3.

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2.4-1.c Stable versus Unstable Soils
The above retention criteria assumes that the soil to be filtered is internally stable  it will
not pipe internally. If unstable soil conditions are encountered, performance tests should be
conducted to select suitable geotextiles. According to Kenney and Lau (1985, 1986) and
LaFluer, et al. (1989), broadly graded (Cu > 20) soils with concave upward grain size
distributions tend to be internally unstable. The Kenney and Lau (1985, 1986) procedure
utilizes a mass fraction analysis. Research by Skempton and Brogan (1994) verified the
Kenney and Lau (1985, 1986) procedure.

Unstable conditions can also exist in materials such as rubblized base course layers in
roadways, recycled concrete, or dense graded roadway base with erodible fines. When these
materials are used adjacent to a drain (e.g., roadway edgedrains), to avoid clogging the
geotextile filter, the geotextile should not be placed between these unstable materials and the
trench drain aggregate. It should be placed beneath and on the outside of the drain to prevent
infiltration of the subgrade and subbase layers.

2.4-2 Permeability and Permittivity Criteria


We consider two conditions when designing for permeability: (1) less critical/less severe and
(2) critical/severe conditions.

(1) For less critical applications and less severe conditions:

kgeotextile > ksoil [2 - 7a]

(2) For critical applications and severe conditions:

kgeotextile > 10 ksoil [2 - 7b]


where:
kgeotextile = Darcy coefficient of permeability (m/sec).

(3) Permittivity requirements (for both critical/severe and less critical/less severe
applications):

The permittivity requirements depend on the percentage of fines in the soil to be filtered.
The more fines in the soil, the greater the permittivity required. The following equations are
recommended based on satisfactory past performance of geotextile filters.
For < 15% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥ 0.5 sec-1 [2 - 8a]
-1
For 15 to 50% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥ 0.2 sec [2 - 8b]
-1
For > 50% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥0.1 sec [2 - 8c]

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Recall from the discussion on Hydraulic Properties in Sec. 1.5 that geotextile permittivity ψ
= kgeotextile/tgeotextile, where kgeotextile = Darcy coefficient of permeability, and t = geotextile
thickness. Note that permittivity is a function of the hydraulic head as well as the opening
characteristics of the geotextile, and it has units of per seconds (s-1). Basically, permittivity is
flow rate (volume/time) per unit area per unit head, or l/sec = 75 gal/min/ft2/2 in. head or
1200 litres/min/m2/ 50mm head.

Permittivity is good measure of flow capacity, and as such it is a useful qualifier for making
sure the geotextile filter has sufficient flow capacity for a given soil in a particular
application. Because flow capacity of the system depends on the percentage of fines in the
soil to be protected, the minimum permittivity values given above are recommended, in
addition to permeability. Another reason for specifying permittivity is that many
manufacturers give the permittivity value for their products according to ASTM D 4491, and
furthermore, they have products available that meet or exceed these permittivity values.
Therefore, we recommend that, in addition to the minimum permeability of the geotextile,
you always specify permittivity values for your project.

For actual flow capacity, the permeability criteria for noncritical applications is conservative,
since an equal quantity of flow through a relatively thin geotextile takes significantly less
time than through a thick granular filter. Even so, some pores in the geotextile may become
blocked or plugged with time. Therefore, for critical or severe applications, Equation 2-7b is
recommended to provide a large factor of safety and an additional degree of conservatism.
Equation 2-7a may be used where flow reduction is judged not to be a problem, such as in
clean, medium to coarse sands and gravels.

The required flow rate, q, through the system should also be determined, and the geotextile
and drainage aggregate selected to provide adequate capacity. As indicated above, flow
capacities should not be a problem for most applications, provided the geotextile
permeability is greater than the soil permeability. However, in certain situations, such as
where geotextiles are used to span joints in, for example, concrete face panels or where they
are used as pipe wraps, portions of the geotextile may not be available for flow. For these
applications, the following criteria should be used together with the permeability criteria:

qrequired = qgeotextile(Ag/At) [2 - 9]
where:
Ag = geotextile area available for flow; and
At = total geotextile area.

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2.4-3 Clogging Resistance
For clogging resistance, we consider the same two conditions as we did for the permeability
criteria: (1) less critical/less severe and (2) critical/severe conditions.

2.4-3.a Less Critical/Less Severe Conditions


For less critical/less severe conditions:

O95 (geotextile) > 3 D15 (soil) [2 - 10]

Equation 2-10 applies to soils with Cu > 3. For Cu < 3, select a geotextile with the maximum
AOS value from Section 2.4.1.

In situations where clogging is a possibility (e.g., gap-graded or silty soils), the following
optional qualifiers may be applied:

for nonwoven geotextiles:


porosity of the geotextile, n > 50% [2 - 11]

for woven monofilament and slit film woven geotextiles:

percent open area, POA > 4% [2 - 12]

NOTE: See Section 1.5 for comments on porosity and POA.

Most common nonwoven geotextiles have porosities much greater than 70%. Most woven
monofilaments easily meet the criterion of Equation 2-12; tightly woven slit films do not, and
are therefore not recommended for subsurface drainage applications.

For less critical/less severe conditions, a simple way to avoid clogging, especially with silty
soils, is to allow fine particles already in suspension to pass through the geotextile. Then the
bridge network (Figure 2-2) formed by the larger particles retains the smaller particles. The
bridge network should develop rather quickly, and the quantity of fine particles actually
passing through the geotextile is relatively small. This is why the less critical/less severe
clogging resistance criteria requires an AOS (O95) sufficiently larger than the finer soil
particles (D15). Those are the particles that will pass through the geotextile. Unfortunately,
the AOS value only indicates the size and not the number of O95-sized holes available. Thus,
the finer soil particles will be retained by the smaller holes in the geotextile, and if there are
sufficient fines, a significant reduction in flow rate can occur.

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Consequently, to control the number of holes in the geotextile, it may be desirable to increase
other qualifiers such as the porosity and open area requirements. There should always be a
sufficient number of holes in the geotextile to maintain permeability and drainage, even if
some of them clog.

Filtration tests provide another option to consider, especially by inexperienced users.

2.4-3.b Critical/Severe Conditions


For critical/severe conditions, select geotextiles that meet the retention and permeability
criteria in Sections 2.4-1 and 2.4-2. Then perform a filtration test using samples of on-site
soils and hydraulic conditions.

Although several empirical methods have been proposed to evaluate the clogging potential of
geotextiles, the most realistic approach for all filtration applications is to perform a
laboratory test which simulates or models field conditions. We recommend the gradient ratio
test, ASTM D 5101, Measuring the Soil-Geotextile System Clogging Potential by the
Gradient Ratio. This test utilizes a rigid-wall soil permeameter with piezometer taps that
allow for simultaneous measurement of the head losses in the soil and the head loss across
the soil/geotextile interface (Figure 2-4). The ratio of the head loss across this interface
(nominally 1-in. {25 mm}) to the head loss across 2 in. (50 mm) of soil is termed the
gradient ratio. As fine soil particles adjacent to the geotextile become trapped inside or blind
the surface, the gradient ratio will increase. A gradient ratio (GR) less than 3 is
recommended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1977), based upon limited testing with
severely gap-graded soils (Haliburton and Wood, 1982). Because the test is conducted in a
rigid-wall permeameter, it is most appropriate for sandy soils with k > 10-6 m/sec.

For soils with permeabilities less than about 10-6 m/sec, filtration tests should be conducted
in a flexible wall or triaxial type apparatus to insure that the specimen is 100% saturated and
that flow is through the soil rather than along the sides of the specimen. The soil flexible
wall test is ASTM D 5084, while the Hydraulic Conductivity Ratio (HCR) test (ASTM D
5567) currently is the standard test for geotextiles and soils with appreciable fines. In fact,
ASTM D 5567 states that it is appropriate for soils with permeabilities hydraulic
conductivities) less than 5 x 10-4 m/sec. In Section 1.5 on the hydraulic properties of
geotextiles, we discussed the disadvantages of the HCR test and other filtration tests for fine
grained soils. We described the Flexible Wall GR test that combines the best features of the
GR test (D 5101) and the flexible wall permeability test (D 5084).

Fortunately, very fine-grained, low-permeability soils, especially if they have some plasticity,
rarely present a filtration problem unless they are dispersive (Sherard and Decker, 1977) or

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subject to hydraulic fracturing, such as might occur in dams under high hydraulic gradients
(Sherard, 1986).

Again, we emphasize that these filtration or clogging potential tests are performance tests.
They must be conducted on samples of project site soil by the specifying agency or its
representative. These tests are the responsibility of the engineer because manufacturers
generally do not have soil laboratories or samples of on-site soils. Therefore, realistically,
the manufacturers are unable to certify the clogging resistance of a geotextile.

Figure 2-4. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gradient ratio test device.

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2.4-4 Survivability and Durability Criteria
To be sure the geotextile will survive the construction process, certain geotextile strength and
durability properties are required for filtration and drainage applications. The minimum
requirements are given in Table 2-2.

It is important to realize that these minimum survivability values are not based on any
systematic research, but on the properties of existing geotextiles which are known to have
performed satisfactorily in drainage applications. The values are meant to serve as guidelines
for inexperienced users in selecting geotextiles for routine projects. They are not intended to
replace site-specific evaluation, testing, and design. For critical and/or severe
applications, survivability should be confirmed by test section and exhumation, or
experience with similar installations and construction procedures.

Table 2-2
Geotextile Strength Property Requirements1,2,3,4 for Drainage Geotextiles
(after AASHTO, 2006)

Test Geotextile Class 2a,b


Units
Methods
Elongation< 50%c Elongation> 50%c

Grab strength ASTM D 4632 lb (N) 250 (1100) 157 (700)


Sewn seam strengthd ASTM D 4632 lb (N) 220 (990) 140 (630)
Tear strength ASTM D 4533 lb (N) 90 (400) e 56 (250)
Puncture strength ASTM D 6241 lb (N) 495 (2200) 309 (1375)
a
Required geotextile class is designated in M288 Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 for the indicated application. The
severity of installation conditions for the application generally dictate the required geotextile class. Class 1 is
specified for more severe or harsh installation conditions where there is a greater potential for geotextile
damage, and Classes 2 and 3 are specified for less severe conditions.
b
All numeric values represent MARV in the weaker principal direction. (See M 288 Section 8.1.2)
c
As measured in accordance with ASTM D 4632.
d
When sewn seams are required. Refer to M288 Appendix for overlap seam requirements.
e
The required MARV tear strength for woven monofilament geotextiles is 56 lb (250 N).
NOTES:
1. Acceptance of geotextile material shall be based on ASTM D 4759.
2. Acceptance shall be based upon testing of either conformance samples obtained using Procedure
A of ASTM D 4354, or based on manufacturer’s certifications and testing of quality assurance
samples obtained using Procedure B of ASTM D 4354.
3. Minimum; use value in weaker principal direction. All numerical values represent minimum
average roll value (i.e., test results from any sampled roll in a lot shall meet or exceed the
minimum values in the table). Lot samples according to ASTM D 4354.
4. Woven slit film geotextiles will not be allowed.

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Geotextile durability relates to its longevity. Geotextiles have been shown to be basically
inert materials for most environments and applications. However, certain applications may
expose the geotextile to chemical or biological activity that could drastically influence its
filtration properties or durability. For example, in drains, granular filters and geotextiles can
become chemically clogged by iron or carbonate precipitates, and biologically clogged by
algae, mosses, etc. Biological clogging is a potential problem when filters and drains are
periodically inundated then exposed to air. Excessive chemical and biological clogging can
significantly influence filter and drain performance. These conditions are present, for
example, in landfills.

Biological clogging potential can be examined with ASTM D 1987, Standard Test Method
for Biological Clogging of Geotextile or Soil/Geotextile Filters (1991). If biological
clogging is a concern, a higher-porosity geotextile may be used, and/or the drain design and
operation can include an inspection and maintenance program to flush the drainage system.

2.4-5 Additional Filter Selection Considerations and Summary


Several different geotextiles, ranging from monofilament wovens to an array of light- to
heavy-weight nonwovens, may meet all of the desired design criteria. Depending on the
actual soil and hydraulic conditions, as well as the intended function of the design, it may be
preferable to use one type of geotextile over another to enhance system performance.
Intuitively, the following observations and selection considerations seem appropriate for
these soil conditions:

1. Graded gravels and coarse sands -- Very open monofilament or multifilament woven
geotextiles may be required to permit high rates of flow and low-risk of blinding.
2. Sands and gravels with less than 20% fines -- Open monofilament woven and
needlepunched nonwoven geotextiles with large openings are preferable to reduce the
risk of blinding. For thin, heat-bonded geotextiles and thick, needlepunched
nonwoven geotextiles, filtration tests should be performed.
3. Soils with 20% to 60% fines -- Filtration tests should be performed on all types of
geotextiles especially for critical applications or severe conditions.
4. Soils with greater than 60% fines -- Heavy-weight, needlepunched geotextiles and
heat-bonded geotextiles tend to work best as fines will not pass. If blinding does
occur, the permeability of the blinding cake would equal that of the soil.
5. Gap-graded cohesionless soils -- Consider using a uniform sand filter with a very
open geotextile designed to allow fines to pass.
6. Silts with sand seams -- Consider using a uniform sand filter over the soil with a very
open geotextile, designed to allow the silt to pass but to prevent movement of the
filter sand; alternatively, consider using a heavy-weight (> 10 oz/yd2 {350 g/m2})

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needlepunched nonwoven directly against soil so water can flow laterally through the
geotextile should it become locally clogged.

The above general observations are not meant to serve as recommendations, but are
offered to provide insight for selecting optimum materials. They are not intended to
exclude other possible geotextiles that you may want to consider.

Figure 2-5 is a flow chart summarizing the FHWA filter design process.

For geosynthetics in pavement drainage systems, the requirements can also be evaluated
using the FHWA computer program DRIP along with the effectiveness of the drainage
system and calculate the design requirements for the permeable base design, separator, and
edgedrain design, including retention and permeability requirements. The software can be
downloaded directly from the FHWA Webpage http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/library
and is included with the NCHRP 1-37A pavement design software.

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RETENTION CRITERIA

Steady State Flow Dynamic Flow Unstable Soils

Sands, Gravelly Sands, Silty Sands & Clayey Silts and Clays
Sands (< 50% passing No.200 sieve ) ( > 50% passing No.200 sieve )

For For For Wovens Nonwovens Performance Tests


2 > CU > 8 2 < CU < 4 4 < CU < 8 B=1& B = 1.8 & O95 < 0.5 D85 to Select Suitable
B=1 B = 0.5 CU B = 8 / CU O95 < D85 O95 < 1.8 D85 Geotextile

and
O95 < B D85 O95 < 0.3 mm

PERMEABILITY/PERMITTIVITY CRITERIA

For less critical applications and less severe conditions: For critical applications and severe
kgeotextile > ksoil conditions: kgeotextile > 10 ksoil

% Passing #200 sieve: < 15% 15% to 50% > 50%


Permittivity Required: Ψ > 0.5 sec-1 Ψ > 0.2 sec-1 Ψ > 0.1 sec-1

qrequired = qgeotextile (Ag/At)


CLOGGING RESISTANCE

For less critical applications and less severe conditions: For critical applications and severe conditions:

For CU < 3 Use Optional Qualifiers for gap-graded or silty soils Perform filtration test
For CU > 3
maximum O95 from For Nonwovens: n > 50% with on-site soils and
O95 > 3 D15
Retention Criteria For Woven monofilament and silt films: POA > 4% hydraulic conditions

SURVIVABILITY and ENDURANCE CRITERIA

Figure 2-5. Flow chart summary of the FHWA filter design procedure.

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2.5 DRAINAGE SYSTEM DESIGN GUIDELINES

In this section, step-by-step drainage design procedures are given. As with a chain, the
integrity of the resulting design will depend on its weakest link; thus, no steps should be
compromised or omitted.

STEP 1. Evaluate the critical nature and site conditions (see Table 2-1) of the application.

Reasonable judgment should be used in categorizing a project, since there may be a


significant cost difference for geotextiles required for critical/severe conditions. Final
selection should not be based on the lowest material cost alone, nor should costs be
reduced by eliminating laboratory soil-geotextile performance testing, if such testing
is appropriate.

STEP 2. Obtain soil samples from the site, and:

A. Perform grain size analyses.

• Calculate Cu = D60/D10 (Eq. 2 - 3)

• Select the worst case soil for retention (i.e., usually the soil with smallest B x D85)

NOTE: When the soil contains particles 1-in. (25 mm) and larger, use only the gradation
of soil passing the No.4 (4.75 mm) sieve in selecting the geotextile (i.e., scalp off the +
No.4 (+4.75 mm) material).

B. Perform field or laboratory permeability tests.

• Select worst case soil (i.e., soil with highest coefficient of permeability, k).

• The permeability of clean sands with 0.1 mm < D10 < 3 mm and Cu < 5 can be
estimated by the Hazen formula, k = (D10)2 (k in cm/sec; D10 in mm). This formula
should not be used for soils with more than about 5% fines.

• Laboratory tests for permeability (hydraulic conductivity) are detailed in ASTM D


2434 for granular soils, D 5856 using a compaction-mold permeameter, and in D
5084 using a flexible-wall permeameter for soils with appreciable fines. Field tests
include pumping tests in boreholes and infiltrometer tests. Standard procedures for
several field tests are also in ASTM.

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• A good visual classification of the soils a the site will enable an experienced
geotechnical engineer to estimate the permeability to the nearest order of magnitude,
which is often sufficient for geotextile filter design. The following table, adapted
from Casagrande (1938) and Holtz and Kovacs (1981), will give a range of
hydraulic conductivities for different natural soils.

Permeability or Hydraulic
Visual Classification
Conductivity, k, m/sec
Clean gravel > 0.01
Clean sands and clean sand-gravel mixtures 0.01 < k < 10-5
Very fine sands; silts; mixtures of sand, silt,
10-5 < k < 10-9
and clay; glacial tills; stratified clays
“Impervious” soils; homogeneous reasonably
k > 10-9
intact clays from below zone of weathering
“Impervious” soils, modified by vegetation,
≈5 x 10-5 < k < ≈5 x 10-8
weathering, fissured, highly OC clays

C. Select drainage aggregate.

• Use free-draining, open-graded material and estimate its permeability (e.g., use
Figure 2-6). If possible, sharp, angular aggregate should be avoided. If it must be
used, then a geotextile meeting the property requirements for high survivability in
Table 2-2 should be specified. For an accurate cost comparison, compare cost of
open-graded aggregate with well-graded, free-draining filter aggregate.

STEP 3. Calculate anticipated flow into and through drainage system and dimension the
system. Use collector pipe to reduce size of drain.

A. General Case

Use Darcy's Law

q = kiA [2 - 13]
where:
q = infiltration rate (m3/sec)
k = effective permeability of soil (from Step 2B above) (m/sec)
i = average hydraulic gradient in soil and in drain (m/m)
A= area of soil and drain material normal to the direction of flow (m2)

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Figure 2-6. Typical gradations and Darcy permeabilities of several aggregate and graded
filter materials (U.S. Navy, 1986).

Use a conventional flow net analysis to calculate the hydraulic gradient (Cedergren, 1989)
and Darcy's Law for estimating infiltration rates into the drain; then use Darcy's Law to
design the drain (i.e., calculate cross-sectional area A for flow through open-graded
aggregate). Note that typical values of hydraulic gradients in the soil adjacent to a geotextile
filter (Giroud, 1988) are:
• i < 1 for drainage under roads, embankments, slopes, etc., when the main source of
water is precipitation; and
• i = 1.5 in the case of drainage trenches and vertical drains behind walls.

B. Specific Drainage Systems

Estimates of surface infiltration, runoff infiltration rates, and drainage dimensions can
be determined using accepted principles of hydraulic engineering (Moulton, 1980).
Specific references are:
1. Flow into trenches -- Mansur and Kaufman (1962)
2. Horizontal blanket drains -- Cedergren (1989)
3. Slope drains -- Cedergren (1989)

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C. Pavement Drainage Systems
The DRIP microcomputer program developed by FHWA can be used to rapidly
evaluate the effectiveness of the drainage system and calculate the design
requirements for the permeable base design, separator, and edgedrain design,
including geotextile filtration requirements. The program can also be used to
determine the drainage path length based on pavement cross and longitudinal slopes,
lane widths, edgedrain trench widths (if applicable), and cross-section geometry
crowned or superelevated. As indicated in Section 2.3, the software can be
downloaded directly from http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/library.htm and is
included with the NCHRP 1-37A pavement design software.

STEP 4. Determine geotextile requirements.

A. Retention Criteria – Steady State Flow

From Step 2A, obtain D85 and Cu; then determine largest pore size allowed.

AOS < B D85 (Eq. 2 - 1)

where:
For soils with < 50% passing the 0.075 mm sieve:
B=1 for Cu < 2 or > 8 (Eq. 2 - 2a)
B = 0.5 Cu for 2 < Cu < 4 (Eq. 2 - 2b)
B = 8/Cu for 4 < Cu < 8 (Eq. 2 - 2c)

and, for soils with > 50% passing the 0.075 mm sieve:
B = 1 for woven geotextiles,
B = 1.8 for nonwoven geotextiles,
and AOS (geotextile) < 0.3 mm (Eq. 2 - 5)

NOTE: Soils with a Cu of greater than 20 may be unstable (see section 2.4-
1.c): if so, filtration tests should be conducted to select suitable geotextiles.

For dynamic and cyclic flow conditions,

O95 < 0.5 D85 (Eq. 2 -6)

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B. Permeability/Permittivity Criteria

1. Less Critical/Less Severe


kgeotextile > ksoil (Eq. 2 - 7a)

2. Critical/Severe
kgeotextile > 10 ksoil (Eq. 2 - 7b)

3. Permittivity Requirements – for all criticality and severity conditions

For < 15% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥ 0.5 sec-1 (Eq. 2 - 8a)
For 15 to 50% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥ 0.2 sec-1 (Eq. 2 - 8b)
For > 50% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥0.1 sec-1 (Eq. 2 - 8c)

4. Flow Capacity Requirement


qrequired = qgeotextile/(Ag/At), or (Eq. 2 - 9)

(kgeotextile/t) h Ag > qrequired [2 – 14]


where:
qrequired is obtained from STEP 3B (Eq. 2-13) above;
kgeotextile = permeability of the geotextile;
t = geotextile thickness;
h = average head in field;
Ag = geotextile area available for flow (i.e., if 80% of geotextile is
covered by the wall of a pipe, Ag = 0.2 x total area); and
At = total area of geotextile.

C. Clogging Criteria
1. Less Critical/Less Severe
a. From Step 2A obtain D15; then determine minimum pore size requirement from
O95 > 3 D15, for Cu > 3 (Eq. 2 - 10)
b. Other qualifiers:
Nonwoven geotextiles:
Porosity (geotextile) > 50% (Eq. 2 - 11)
Woven geotextiles:
Percent open area > 4% (Eq. 2 - 12)

Alternative: Run filtration tests

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2. Critical/Severe
Select geotextiles that meet retention, permeability, and survivability criteria,
as well as the criteria in Step 4C.1 above, and perform a filtration test.
Suggested filtration test for sandy soils is the gradient ratio test. The
hydraulic conductivity ratio test is recommended by ASTM for fine-grained
soils, but as noted in Sections 1.5 and 2.4-3, the HCR test has serious
disadvantages.

Alternative: Consider long-term filtration tests, F3 tests, the Flexible Wall GR


test etc.

NOTE: Experience is required to obtain reproducible results from


the gradient ratio test. See Fischer (1994) and Maré (1994).

D. Survivability
Select geotextile properties required for survivability from Table 2-2. Add durability
requirements if appropriate.

STEP 5. Estimate costs.

Calculate the pipe size (if required), the volume of aggregate, and the area of the
geotextile. Apply appropriate unit cost values.
Pipe (if required) (m) ________________
3
Aggregate (/m ) ________________
2
Geotextile (/m ) ________________
2
Geotextile placement (/m )
Construction (LS) ________________
Total Cost: ________________

STEP 6. Prepare specifications.

Include for the geotextile:


A. General requirements
B. Specific geotextile properties
C. Seams and overlaps
D. Placement procedures
E. Repairs
F. Testing and placement observation requirements

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See Sections 1.6 and 2.7 for specification details.

STEP 7. Collect samples of aggregate and geotextile before acceptance.

STEP 8. Monitor installation during and after construction.

STEP 9. Observe drainage system during and after storm events.

2.6 DESIGN EXAMPLE

DEFINITION OF DESIGN EXAMPLE

• Project Description: drains to intercept groundwater are to be placed adjacent to a two-


lane highway

• Type of Structure: trench drain

• Type of Application: geotextile wrapping of aggregate drain stone

Alternatives: i) graded soil filter between aggregate and soil being drained; or
ii) geotextile wrapping of aggregate

GIVEN DATA

• site has a high groundwater table

• drain is to prevent seepage and shallow slope failures, which are currently a maintenance
problem

• depth of trench drain is 3 ft (1 m)

• soil samples along the proposed drain alignment are nonplastic

• gradations of three representative soil samples along the proposed drain alignment

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PERCENT PASSING, BY WEIGHT
SIEVE SIZE
Sample A Sample B Sample C
(mm)
25 99 100 100
13 97 100 100
4.76 95 100 100
1.68 90 96 100
0.84 78 86 93
0.42 55 74 70
0.15 10 40 11
0.074 1 15 0

Grain Size Distribution Curve

DEFINE

A. Geotextile function(s)

B. Geotextile properties required

C. Geotextile specification

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SOLUTION

A. Geotextile function(s):
Primary - filtration
Secondary - separation

B. Geotextile properties required:


apparent opening size (AOS)
permeability/permittivity
survivability

DESIGN

STEP 1. EVALUATE CRITICAL NATURE AND SITE CONDITIONS

From given data, assume that this is a noncritical application.


Soils are well-graded, hydraulic gradient is low for this type of application, and flow
conditions are steady state for this type of application.

STEP 2. OBTAIN SOIL SAMPLES

A. GRAIN SIZE ANALYSES


Plot gradations of representative soils. The D60, D10, and D85 sizes from the gradation plot are
noted in the table below for Samples A, B, and C. Determine uniformity coefficient, Cu,
coefficient B, and the maximum AOS.

Worst case soil for retention (i.e., smallest B × D85) is Soil C, from the following table.

Soil
Sample D60 ÷ D10 = Cu B= AOS (mm) < B x D85
A 0.48 ÷ 0.15 = 3.2 0.5 Cu = 0.5 × 3.2 = 1.6 1.6 × 1.0 = 1.6
B 0.25 ÷ 0.06 = 4.2 8 Cu = 8 × 4.2 = 1.9 1.9 × 0.75 = 1.4
C 0.36 ÷ 0.14 = 2.6 0.5 Cu = 0.5 × 2.6 = 1.3 1.3 × 0.55 = 0.72

B. PERMEABILITY TESTS
Noncritical application, drain will be conservatively designed with an estimated permeability.

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The largest D10 controls permeability; therefore, Soil A with D10 = 0.15 mm controls. For
this example, we will use the Hazen formula, or
k ≈ (D10)2 = (0.15)2 = 2 (10)-2 cm/sec = 2 (10)-4 m/sec

Note that this value is a conservative estimate in terms of the visual classification of the soil,
as discussed in Section 2.5, Step 2.

C. SELECT DRAIN AGGREGATE


Assume drain stone is a rounded aggregate.

STEP 3. DIMENSION DRAIN SYSTEM


Determine depth and width of drain trench and whether a pipe is required to carry flow - details
of which are not included within this example.

STEP 4. DETERMINE GEOTEXTILE REQUIREMENTS

A. RETENTION CRITERIA
Sample C controls (see table above), therefore, AOS < 0.72 mm

B. PERMEABILITY CRITERIA
From given data, it has been judged that this application is a less critical/less severe
application. Therefore, kgeotextile > ksoil

Soil C controls, therefore, kgeotextile  > 2 (10)-4 m/sec

Flow capacity requirements of the system - details of which are not included within this
example.

C. PERMITTIVITY CRITERIA
All three soils have < 15% passing the 0.075 mm, therefore Ψ > 0.5 sec-1

D. CLOGGING CRITERIA
From given data, it has been judged that this application is a less critical/less severe
application, and Soils A and B have a Cu greater than 3. Therefore, for soils A and B, O95 >
3 D15. So

O95 ≥ 3 x 0.15 = 0.45 mm for Sample A


3 x 0.075 = 0.22 mm for Sample B

Soil A controls [Note that sand size particles typically don't create clogging problems,

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therefore, Soil B could have been used as the design control.], therefore,

AOS > 0.45 mm

For Soil C, a geotextile with the maximum AOS value determined from the retention criteria
should be used. Therefore

AOS ≈ 0.72 mm

Also,
nonwoven porosity > 50%
and
woven percent open area > 4%

For the primary function of filtration, the geotextile should have 0.45 mm < AOS < 0.72
mm; and kgeotextile > 2 (10)-2 cm/sec and Ψ > 0.5 sec-1. Woven slit film geotextiles are not
allowed.

E. SURVIVABILITY
From Table 2-2, the following minimum values are recommended:

For Survivability, the geotextile shall have the following minimum values (values are
MARV) –

Woven Geotextile Nonwoven Geotextile


Grab Strength 250 lb (1100 N) 157 lb (700 N)
Sewn Seam Strength 220 lb (990 N) 140 lb (630 N)
Tear Strength 90 lb (400 N)* 56 lb (250 N)
Puncture Strength 495 lb (2200 N) 309 lb (1375 N)
*56 lb (250 N) for monofilament geotextiles

NOTE: With lightweight compaction equipment and field inspection, Class 3


geotextile (see Appendix D) could be used.

Complete Steps 5 through 9 to finish design.

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STEP 5. ESTIMATE COSTS

STEP 6. PREPARE SPECIFICATIONS

STEP 7. COLLECT SAMPLES

STEP 8. MONITOR INSTALLATION

STEP 9. OBSERVE DRAIN SYSTEM DURING AND AFTER STORM EVENTS

2.7 COST CONSIDERATIONS

Determining the cost effectiveness of geotextiles versus conventional drainage systems is a


straightforward process. Simply compare the cost of the geotextile with the cost of a
conventional granular filter layer, while keeping in mind the following:
• Overall material costs including a geotextile versus a conventional system - For
example, the geotextile system will allow the use of poorly graded (less-select)
aggregates, which may reduce the need for a collector pipe, provided the amount
of fines is small (Q decreases considerably if the percent passing the No.200
(0.075 mm) sieve is greater than 5%, even in gravel).
• Construction requirements - There is, of course, a cost for placing the geotextile;
but in most cases, it is less than the cost of constructing dual-layered, granular
filters, for example, which are often necessary with conventional filters and fine-
grained soils.
• Possible dimensional design improvements - If an open-graded aggregate is used
(especially with a collector pipe), a considerable reduction in the physical
dimensions of the drain can be made without a decrease in flow capacity. This
size reduction also reduces the volume of the excavation, the volume of filter
material required, and the construction time necessary per unit length of drain.

In general, the cost of the geotextile material in drainage applications will typically range
from $1.00 to $1.50 per square yard, depending upon the type specified and quantity ordered.
Installation costs will depend upon the project difficulty and contractor's experience;
typically, they range from $0.50 to $1.50 per square yard of geotextile. Higher costs should
be anticipated for below-water placement. Labor installation costs for the geotextile are
easily repaid because construction can proceed at a faster pace, less care is needed to prevent
segregation and contamination of granular filter materials, and multilayered granular filters
are typically not necessary.

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2.8 SPECIFICATIONS

The following guide specification is provided as an example. It is a combination of the


AASHTO M288 (2006) geotextile material specification and its accompanying
construction/installation guidelines; developed for routine drainage and filtration
applications. The actual hydraulic and physical properties of the geotextile must be selected
by considering of the nature of the project (critical/less critical), hydraulic conditions
(severe/less severe), soil conditions at the site, and construction and installation procedures
appropriate for the project.

SUBSURFACE DRAINAGE GEOTEXTILES


(after AASHTO M288, 2006)

1. SCOPE

1.1 Description. This specification is applicable to placing a geotextile against the soil to allow long-
term passage of water into a subsurface drain system retaining the in-situ soils. The primary
function of the geotextile in subsurface drainage applications is filtration. Geotextile filtration
properties are a function of the in-situ soil gradation, plasticity, and hydraulic conditions.

2. REFERENCED DOCUMENTS

2.1 AASHTO Standards

T88 Particle Size Analysis of Soils


T90 Determining the Plastic Limit and Plasticity Index of Soils
T99 The Moisture-Density Relationships of Soils Using a 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) Rammer and a
12 in. (305 mm) Drop
2.2 ASTM Standards
D 123 Standard Terminology Relating to Textiles
D 276 Test Methods for Identification of Fibers in Textiles
D 4354 Practice for Sampling of Geosynthetics for Testing
D 4355 Test Method for Deterioration of Geotextiles from Exposure to Ultraviolet Light and
Water (Xenon Arc Type Apparatus)
D 4439 Terminology for Geosynthetics
D 4491 Test Methods for Water Permeability of Geotextiles by Permittivity
D 4632 Test Method for Grab Breaking Load and Elongation of Geotextiles
D 4751 Test Method for Determining Apparent Opening Size of a Geotextile
D 4759 Practice for Determining the Specification Conformance of Geosynthetics
D 4873 Guide for Identification, Storage, and Handling of Geotextiles

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D 5141 Test Method to Determine Filtering Efficiency and Flow Rate for Silt Fence
Application of a Geotextile Using Site Specific Soil
D 6241 Test Method for Static Puncture Strength of Geotextiles and Geotextile
Related Products Using a 50-mm Probe

3. PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL REQUIREMENTS

3.1 Fibers used in the manufacture of geotextiles and the threads used in joining geotextiles by
sewing, shall consist of long chain synthetic polymers, composed of at least 95% by weight
polyolefins or polyesters. They shall be formed into a stable network such that the filaments or
yarns retain their dimensional stability relative to each other, including selvages.

3.2 Geotextile Requirements. The geotextile shall meet the requirements of following Table. Woven
slit film geotextiles (i.e., geotextiles made from yarns of a flat, tape-like character) will not be
allowed. All numeric values in the following table, except AOS, represent minimum average roll
values (MARV) in the weakest principal direction (i.e., average test results of any roll in a lot
sampled for conformance or quality assurance testing shall meet or exceed the minimum values).
Values for AOS represent maximum average roll values.

NOTE: The property values in the following table represent default values which
provide for sufficient geotextile survivability under most conditions. Minimum
property requirements may be reduced when sufficient survivability information is
available [see Note 2 of Table 2-2 and Appendix D]. The Engineer may also specify
properties different from those listed in the following Table based on engineering
design and experience.

Subsurface Drainage Geotextile Requirements


ASTM Test Elongation(1)
Property Units
Method < 50%(1) > 50%(1)
Grab Strength D 4632 N 1100 700
(2)
Sewn Seam Strength D 4632 N 990 630
Tear Strength D 4533 N 400(3) 250
Puncture Strength D 6241 N 2200 1375
Percent In-Situ Passing 0.075 mm Sieve(4)
< 15 15 to 50 > 50
-1
Permittivity D 4491 sec 0.5 0.2 0.1
Apparent Opening Size D 4751 mm 0.43 0.25 0.22(5)
Ultraviolet Stability D 4355 % 50% after 500 hours of exposure
NOTES:
(1) As measured in accordance with ASTM D 4632.
(2) When sewn seams are required.
(3) The required MARV tear strength for woven monofilament geotextiles is 250 N.
(4) Based on grain size analysis of in-situ soil in accordance with AASHTO T88.
(5) For cohesive soils with a plasticity index greater than 7, geotextile maximum average roll value
for apparent opening size is 0.30 mm.

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4. CERTIFICATION

4.1 The Contractor shall provide to the engineer a certificate stating the name of the manufacturer,
product name, style number, chemical composition of the filaments or yarns and other pertinent
information to fully describe the geotextile.

4.2 The manufacturer is responsible for establishing and maintaining a quality control program to
assure compliance with the requirements of the specification. Documentation describing the
quality control program shall be made available upon request.

4.3 The manufacturer’s certificate shall state that the furnished geotextile meets MARV requirements
of the specification as evaluated under the manufacturer’s quality control program. A person
having legal authority to bind the manufacturer shall be attest to the certificate.

4.4 Either mislabeling or misrepresentation of materials shall be reason to reject those geotextile
products.

5. SAMPLING, TESTING, AND ACCEPTANCE

5.1 Geotextiles shall be subject to sampling and testing to verify conformance with this specification.
Sampling shall be in accordance with the most current ASTM D 4354 using the section titled,
“Procedure for Sampling for Purchaser’s Specification Conformation Testing.” In the absence of
purchaser’s testing, verification may be based on manufacturer’s certifications as a result of a
testing by the manufacturer of quality assurance samples obtained using he procedure for
Sampling or Manufacturer’s Quality Assurance (MQA) Testing. A lot size shall be considered to
be the shipment quantity of the given product or a truckload of the given product, whichever is
smaller.

5.2 Testing shall be performed in accordance with the methods referenced in this specification for the
indicated application. The number of specimens to test per sample is specified by each test
method. Geotextile product acceptance shall be based on ASTM D 4759. Product acceptance is
determined by comparing the average test results of all specimens within a given sample to the
specification MARV. Refer to ASTM D 4759 for more details regarding geotextile acceptance
procedures.

6. SHIPMENT AND STORAGE

6.1 Geotextile labeling, shipment, and storage shall follow ASTM D 4873. Product labels shall
clearly show the manufacturer or supplier name, style number, and roll number. Each shipping
document shall include a notation certifying that the material is in accordance with the
manufacturer’s certificate.

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6.2 Each geotextile roll shall be wrapped with a material that will protect the geotextile, including the
ends of the roll, from damage due to shipment, water, sunlight, and contaminants. The protective
wrapping shall be maintained during periods of shipment and storage.

6.3 During storage, geotextile rolls shall be elevated off the ground and adequately covered to protect
them from the following: site construction damage, precipitation, extended ultraviolet radiation
including sunlight, chemicals that are strong acids or strong bases, flames including welding
sparks, temperatures in excess of 71°C (160°F), and any other environmental condition that may
damage the physical property values of the geotextile.

7. CONSTRUCTION

7.1 General. Atmospheric exposure of geotextiles to the elements following lay down shall be a
maximum of 14 days to minimize damage potential.

7.2 Seaming.
a. If a sewn seam is to be used for the seaming of the geotextile, the thread used shall consist of
high strength polypropylene, or polyester. Nylon thread shall not be used. For erosion control
applications, the thread shall also be resistant to ultraviolet radiation. The thread shall be of
contrasting color to that of the geotextile itself.

b. For seams which are sewn in the field, the contractor shall provide at least a two m length of
sewn seam for sampling by the engineer before the geotextile is installed. For seams that are
sewn in the factory, the engineer shall obtain samples of the factory seams at random from any
roll of geotextile which is to be used on the project.

b.1 For seams that are field sewn, the seams sewn for sampling shall be sewn using the same
equipment and procedures as will be used for the production of seams. If seams are to be
sewn in both the machine and cross machine directions, samples of seams from both
directions shall be provided.

b.2 The Contractor shall submit the seam assembly description along with the sample of the
seam. The description shall include the seam type, stitch type, sewing thread, and stitch
density.

7.3 Trench. Trench excavation shall be done in accordance with details of the project plans. In all
instances excavation shall be done in such a way so as to prevent large voids from occurring in
the sides and bottom of the trench. The graded surface shall be smooth and free and debris.

7.4 Geotextile Placement.


a. In placement of the geotextile for drainage applications, the geotextile shall be placed loosely
with no wrinkles or folds, and with not void spaces between the geotextile and the ground

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surface. Successive sheets of geotextiles shall be overlapped a minimum of 300 mm, with the
upstream sheet overlapping the downstream sheet.

a.1 In trenches equal to or greater than 300 mm in width, after placing the drainage aggregate the
geotextile shall be folded over the top of the backfill material in a manner to produce a
minimum overlap of 300 mm. In trenches less than 300 mm but greater than 100 mm wide,
the overlap shall be equal to the width of the trench. Where the trench is less than 100 mm
the geotextile overlap shall be sewn or otherwise bonded. All seams shall be subject to the
approval of the engineer.

a.2 Should the geotextile be damaged during installation, or drainage aggregate placement, a
geotextile patch shall be placed over the damaged area extending beyond the damaged area a
distance of 300 mm, or the specified seam overlap, whichever is greater.

7.5 Drainage Aggregate


a. Placement of drainage aggregate should proceed immediately following placement of the
geotextile. The geotextile should be covered with a minimum of 300 mm of loosely placed
aggregate prior to compaction. If a perforated collector pipe is to be installed in the trench, a
bedding layer of drainage aggregate should be placed below the pipe, with the remainder of the
aggregate placed to the minimum required construction depth.

a.1 The aggregate should be compacted with vibratory equipment to a minimum of 95% Standard
AASHTO density unless the trench is required for structural support. If higher compactive
effort is required, a Class 1 geotextile as per Table 1 of the M288 Specification is needed.

8. METHOD OF MEASUREMENT

8.1 The geotextile shall be measured by the number of square meters computed from the
payment lines shown on the plans or from payment lines established in writing by the Engineer.
This excludes seam overlaps, but shall include geotextiles used in crest and toe of slope
treatments.

8.2 Slope preparation, excavation and backfill, bedding, and cover material are separate pay
items.

9. BASIS OF PAYMENT

9.1 The accepted quantities of geotextile shall be paid for per square meter in place.

9.2 Payment will be made under:

Pay Item Pay Unit


Subsurface Drainage Geotextile Square Meter

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2.9 INSTALLATION PROCEDURES

For all drainage applications, the following construction steps should be followed:
1. The surface on which the geotextile is to be placed should be excavated to design
grade to provide a smooth, graded surface free of debris and large cavities.
2. Between preparation of the subgrade and construction of the system, the geotextile
should be well-protected to prevent any degradation due to exposure to the elements.
3. After excavating to design grade, the geotextile should be cut (if required) to the
desired width (including allowances for non-tight placement in trenches and overlaps
of the ends of adjacent rolls) or cut at the top of the trench after placement of the
drainage aggregate.
4. Care should be taken during construction to avoid contamination of the geotextile. If
it becomes contaminated, it must be removed and replaced with new material.
5. In drainage systems, the geotextile should be placed with the machine direction
following the direction of water flow; for pavements, the geotextile should be parallel
to the roadway. It should be placed loosely (not taut), but with no wrinkles or folds.
Care should be taken to place the geotextile in intimate contact with the soil so that no
void spaces occur behind it.
6. The ends for subsequent rolls and parallel rolls of geotextile should be overlapped a
minimum of 1 foot (0.3 m) in roadways and 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 m) in drains,
depending on the anticipated severity of hydraulic flow and the placement conditions.
For high hydraulic flow conditions and heavy construction, such as with deep
trenches or large stone, the overlaps should be increased. For large open sites using
base drains, overlaps should be pinned or anchored to hold the geotextile in place
until placement of the aggregate. Upstream geotextile should always overlap over
downstream geotextile.
7. To limit exposure of the geotextile to sunlight, dirt, damage, etc., placement of
drainage or roadway base aggregate should proceed immediately following placement
of the geotextile. The geotextile should be covered with a minimum of 1 foot (0.3 m)
of loosely placed aggregate prior to compaction. If thinner lifts are used, higher
survivability fabrics may be required. For drainage trenches, at least 4 in. (0.1 m) of
drainage stone should be placed as a bedding layer below the slotted collector pipe (if
required), with additional aggregate placed to the minimum required construction
depth. Compaction is necessary to seat the drainage system against the natural soil
and to reduce settlement within the drain. The aggregate should be compacted with
vibratory equipment to a minimum of 95% Standard AASHTO T99 density unless the
trench is required for structural support. If higher compactive efforts are required, the
geotextiles meeting the property values listed under the high survivability category in
Table 2-2 should be utilized.

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8. After compaction, for trench drains, the two protruding edges of the geotextile should
be overlapped at the top of the compacted granular drainage material. A minimum
overlap of 1 foot (0.3 m) is recommended to ensure complete coverage of the trench
width. The overlap is important because it protects the drainage aggregate from
surface contamination. After completing the overlap, backfill should be placed and
compacted to the desired final grade.

A schematic of the construction procedures for a geotextile-lined underdrain trench is shown


in Figure 2-7. Construction photographs of an underdrain trench are shown in Figure 2-8,
and diagrams of geosynthetic placement beneath a permeable roadway base are shown in
Figure 2-9.

2.10 FIELD INSPECTION

The field inspector should review the field inspection guidelines in Section 1.7. Special
attention should be given to aggregate placement and potential for geotextile damage. Also,
maintaining the appropriate geotextile overlap at the top of the trench and at roll ends is
especially important.

especially important.

Figure 2-7. Construction procedure for geotextile-lined underdrains.

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(a) (b)

(c) (d)
Figure 2-8. Construction of geotextile drainage systems: (a) geotextile placement in
drainage ditch; (b) aggregate placement; (c) compaction of aggregate; and
(d) geotextile overlap prior to final cover.

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Figure 2-9. Construction of geotextile filters and separators beneath permeable pavement
base: (a) geotextile used as a separator; and (b) permeable base and edge
drain combination. (Baumgardner, 1994)

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2.11 IN-PLANE DRAINAGE; PREFABRICATED GEOCOMPOSITE DRAINS

The in-plane drainage ability of geotextiles and prefabricated geocomposite drains is


potentially quite effective in several applications. Virtually all of the examples given in Sec.
2.1 have a lateral transmission component. Specific lateral drainage applications include
interceptor trench drains on slopes, drains behind abutments and retaining structures,
transmission of seepage water below pavement base course layers, pavement edge drains,
vertical drains to accelerate consolidation of soft foundation soils, dissipation of pore water
pressures in embankments and fills, dissipation of seepage forces in earth and rock slopes,
chimney drains in earth dams, leachate collection and gas venting systems for waste
containment systems, etc.

However, it should be realized that the flow quantities transmitted by in-plane flow of typical
geotextiles (on the order of 2 x 10-5 m3/s/linear meter of geotextile under a pressure
equivalent to 0.6 m of soil) are relatively small when compared to the flow capacity of only 6
to 12 in. (0.15 to 0.3 m) of filter sand. Therefore, geotextiles alone should only be used to
replace sand or other drainage layers in situations with small seepage quantities. Remember,
too, that the in-plane seepage quantities of geotextiles are highly affected by compressive
forces, incomplete saturation, and hydraulic gradients. These considerations have led
engineers to use geocomposite drains in many lateral drainage applications.

During the past 20 years or so, a large number of geocomposites drainage products have been
developed, which consist of cores of extruded and fluted plastics sheets, three-dimensional
meshes and mats, plastic waffles, and nets and channels to convey water and geotextiles on
one or both sides to act as a filter. Geocomposite drains may be fabricated on site although
most are manufactured. They generally range in thickness from ¼ to 1-in. (5 mm to 25 mm)
or greater and have transmission capabilities of between 0.0002 and 0.01 m3/sec/linear width
of drain. Some geocomposite drains are shown in Figure 2-10.

Prefabricated geocomposite drains are used to replace or support conventional drainage


systems. According to Hunt (1982), prefabricated drains offer a readily available material
with known filtration and hydraulic flow properties; easy installation, and, therefore,
construction economies; and protection of any waterproofing applied to the structure's
exterior. Cost of prefabricated drains typically ranges from $0.75 to $1.00 per square foot.
The high material cost is usually offset by expedient construction and reduction in required
quantities of select granular materials. For example, geocomposites used for pavement edge
drains typically cost $1.00 to $3.00/linear foot installed while a conventional geotextile
wrapped gravel drain with a pipe is on the order of $9.00/linear foot installed.

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Probably the most common uses for geocomposite drains in highways are pavement edge
drains and drains behind retaining walls and abutments. Several states (e.g., Maine,
Wisconsin, and Virginia) have also experimented with the use of horizontal geocomposite
drains selected to be able to handle the estimated flow and support traffic loads. They are
placed either below or above a dense graded base, used as a drainage layer beneath full depth
asphalt, or placed between a “crack and seat” concrete surface and a new asphalt layer.
Pavement drainage applications are discussed in more detail in Chapter 5, Roadways and
Pavements, and drainage requirements for retaining structures are reviewed in Chapter 9,
Retaining Walls and Abutments

As a soil improvement technique for soft foundations, prefabricated vertical geocomposite


drains, sometimes called PVD or wick drains, have made conventional sand drains obsolete.
PVD drains are reviewed in more detail later in this section.

2.11-1 Design and Selection Criteria


For the design and selection of geotextiles with in-plane drainage capabilities and geotextile
filters for geocomposite drainage systems, there are three basic design considerations:

1. Adequate filtration without clogging or piping.


2. Adequate inflow/outflow capacity under design loads to provide maximum
anticipated seepage during design life.
3. System performance considerations.

2.11-1.a Geotextile Filter


As with conventional drainage systems, geotextile filter design and selection should be based
on the grain size of the material to be protected, permeability requirements, clogging
resistance, and physical property requirements, as described in Section 2.4. For example, in
pavement drainage systems, dynamic loading means severe hydraulic conditions (Table 2-1).
If the geotextile supplied with the geocomposite is not appropriate for your design
conditions, system safety will be compromised and you should specify geotextiles that will
work. This is important especially when prefabricated drains are used in critical situations
and where failure could lead to structure or system failure.

Geotextile filters for prefabricated vertical drains (PVD) or wick drains are a special case.
The objective of projects involving PVDs is to accelerate the consolidation of soft
compressible soils, so the filter should be compatible with the characteristics of the soils to
be drained. All the design procedures described in Sec. 2.4 are appropriate, including long
term filtration (clogging) tests if the project is critical. See also FHWA NHI-06-019 (Elias et
al., 2006), Holtz (1987), and Holtz et al. (1991) for additional information on the design,

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properties, and installation of wick drains. Holtz and Christopher (1987) discuss
specifications for material properties (geotextile filter and core) and installation of wick
drains. Mechanical properties of the drain components are especially important for
successful installation.

Figure 2-10. Geocomposite drains.

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2.11-1.b Flow Capacity—Short Term
In order to design the in-plane flow capacity of a geotextile or the flow capacity of the core
or a geocomposite, the maximum seepage flow into the system must be estimated using the
procedure described in Sec. 2.5, Step 4, B.3. Then the geotextile or geocomposite is selected
on the basis of these seepage requirements. The flow capacity of the geocomposite or
geotextile can be determined from the transmissivity of the material. The test for
transmissivity is ASTM D 4716, “Constant Head Hydraulic Transmissivity (In-Plane Flow)
of Geotextiles and Geotextile Related Products”. The flow capacity per unit width of the
geotextile or geocomposite can then be calculated using Darcy's Law:

q = kp i A = k p i B t [2 - 15]

or,
q/B = θ i [2 - 16]
where:
q = flow rate (L3/T)
kp = in-plane coefficient of permeability for the geosynthetic (L/T)
B = width of geosynthetic (L)
t = thickness of geosynthetic (L)
θ = transmissivity of geosynthetic (= kpt) (L2/T)
i = hydraulic gradient (L/L)

The flow rate per unit width of the geosynthetic can then be compared with the flow rate per
unit width required of the drainage system. It should be recognized that the in-plane flow
capacity for geosynthetic drains reduces significantly under compression (Giroud, 1980).
Additional decreases in transmissivity may occur with time due to creep of the geotextile into
the core or even the core material itself. Therefore, the composite material should be
evaluated by an appropriate laboratory model (performance) test, under the anticipated
design loading conditions (with a safety factor) for the design life of the project.

2.11-1.c Flow Capacity—Long Term


Long-term compressive stress and eccentric loadings on the core of a geocomposite should
be considered during design and selection. Though not yet addressed in standardized test
methods or standards of practice, the following criteria (Berg, 1993) are suggested for
addressing core compression. The design pressure on a geocomposite core should be limited
to either:
i) the maximum pressure sustained on the core in a test of 10,000 hr minimum duration;
or ii) the crushing pressure of a core, as defined with a quick loading test, divided by a
safety factor of five.

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Note that crushing pressure can only be defined for some core types. For cases where a
crushing pressure cannot be defined, suitability should be based on the first criterion, the
maximum load resulting in a residual thickness of the core adequate to provide the required
flow after 10,000 hours.

Intrusion of the geotextiles into the core and long-term outflow capacity should be measured
with a modified transmissivity test similar to ASTM D 4716 (Berg, 1993). The equipment
should be capable of sustained loading and the geotextile should be in contact with a sand
substratum in lieu of closed cell foam rubber. Load should be maintained for at least 300
hours or until equilibrium is reached, whichever is greater.

For PVDs (wick drains), see Holtz et al. (1991) for a discussion of the effects of core
capacity and intrusion on drain performance. They also have a review of testing
procedures—none are ASTM standards yet—that have been developed to evaluate intrusion,
core kinking, and other detrimental effects.

2.11-1.d System Performance Considerations


Finally, consideration should be given to system performance factors such as distance
between drain outlets, hydraulic gradient of the drains, potential for blockage due to small
animals, freezing, etc. When using geosynthetics to drain earth retaining structures and
abutments, drain location and pressures on the wall or abutment must be properly accounted
for. It is important that the drain be located away from the back of the wall and be
appropriately inclined so it can intercept seepage before it impinges on the back of the wall.
Placement of a thin vertical drain directly against a retaining wall may actually increase
seepage forces on the wall due to rainwater infiltration (Terzaghi et al., 1996; and Cedergren,
1989). For further discussion of this point, see Christopher and Holtz (1985).

2.11-2 Construction Considerations


The following are considerations specific to the installation of geocomposite drains:
1. As with all geosynthetic applications, care should be taken during storage and
placement to avoid damage to the material.
2. Placement of the backfill directly against the geotextile filter must be closely
observed, and compaction of soil with equipment directly against the geocomposite
should be avoided. Otherwise, the filter could be damaged or the drain could even be
crushed. Use of clean granular backfill reduces the compaction energy requirements.
3. At the joints, where the sheets or strips of geocomposite butt together, the geotextile
filter must be carefully overlapped to prevent soil infiltration. Also, the geotextile
should extend beyond the ends of the drain to prevent soil from entering at the edges.

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4. Details must be provided on how the prefabricated drains tie into the collector
drainage systems.

Construction of an edge drain installation is shown in Figures 2-11 and 2-12. Additional
information and recommendations regarding proper edge drain installation can be found in
Koerner, et al. (1994) and in ASTM D 6088 Practice for Installation of Geocomposite Edge
Drains.

2.12 REFERENCES

References quoted within this section are listed below. FHWA references are generally
available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge under the publications and geotechnical tabs and/or at
www.nhi..fhwa.dot.gov under the training and NHI store tabs. A key reference for design is
this manual (FHWA Geosynthetics Manual) and its predecessor Christopher and Holtz
(1985). The NCHRP report (Koerner et al., 1994) specifically addresses pavement edge
drain systems and is based upon analysis of failed systems. It is a key reference for design.
These and other key references are noted in bold type. Detailed lists of specific ASTM and
GRI test procedures are presented in Appendix E.

AASHTO (2006). Standard Specifications for Geotextiles - M 288, Standard


Specifications for Transportation Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing,
26th Edition, American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials,
Washington, D.C.

ASTM (2006). Annual Books of ASTM Standards, American Society for Testing and
Materials, West Conshohocken, PA:
Volume 4.08 (I), Soil and Rock
Volume 4.09 (II), Soil and Rock; Geosynthetics

Baumgardner, R.H. (1994). Geotextile Design Guidelines for Permeable Bases, Federal
Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., June, 33 p.

Bell, J.R. and Hicks, R.G. (1980). Evaluation of Test Methods and Use Criteria for
Geotechnical Fabrics in Highway Applications - Interim Report, FHWA/RD-
80/021,190 p.

Berg, R.R., (1993). Guidelines for Design, Specification, & Contracting of Geosynthetic
Mechanically Stabilized Earth Slopes on Firm Foundations, FHWA-SA-93-025, 87 p.

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(a) Equipment train used to install PGEDs according to Figure 2-12.

(b) Sand installation and backfilling equipment at end of equipment train (per Figure 2-12).
Figure 2-11. Prefabricated geocomposite edge drain construction using sand fill upstream
of composite (as illustrated in Figure 2-12) (from Koerner, et al., 1994).

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Figure 2-12. Recommended installation method for prefabricated geocomposite edge
drains (from Koerner, et al., 1994).

Carroll, R.G., Jr. (1983). Geotextile Filter Criteria, Engineering Fabrics in Transportation
Construction, Transportation Research Record 916, Transportation Research Board,
Washington, D.C., pp. 46-53.

Casagrande, A. (1938). Notes on Soil Mechanics - First Semester, Harvard University


(unpublished), 129 pp.

Cedergren, H.R. (1989). Seepage, Drainage, and Flow Nets, Third Edition, John Wiley and
Sons, New York, 465 p.

Christopher, B.R. and Holtz, R.D. (1985). Geotextile Engineering Manual, FHWA-TS-
86/203, 1044 p.

Elias, V., Welsh, J., Warren, J., Lukas, R., Collin, J.G. and Berg, R.R. (2006). Ground
Improvement Methods, FHWA NHI-06-019 (Vol. I) and FHWA NHI-06-020 (Vol. II).

Fischer, G.R. (1994). The Influence of Fabric Pore Structure on the Behavior of
Geotextile Filters, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 498 p.

Giroud, J.P. (1988). Review of Geotextile Filter Criteria, Proceedings of First Indian
Geotextiles Conference on Reinforced Soil and Geotextiles, Bombay, India, 6 p.

Giroud, J.P. (1980). Introduction to Geotextiles and Their Applications, Proceedings of the
First Canadian Symposium on Geotextiles, Calgary, Alberta, pp. 3-31.

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Haliburton, T. A. and Wood, P. D. (1982). Evaluation of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
Gradient Ratio Test for Geotextile Performance, Proceedings of the Second International
Conference on Geotextiles, Las Vegas, Nevada, Vol. 1, pp.97-101.

Holtz, R. D., Jamiolkowski, M., Lancellotta, R. and Pedroni, S. (1991). Prefabricated


Vertical Drains: Design and Performance, Butterworths/CIRIA co-publication series,
CIRIA, Butterworths-Heinemann, London, England, 131 pp.

Holtz, R. D., (1987). Preloading with Prefabricated Vertical Strip Drains, Geotextiles and
Geomembranes, Vol. 6, Nos. 1-3, pp. 109-131. (Also published in Proceedings of the
First Geosynthetic Research Institute Seminar on Very Soft Soil Stabilization Using High
Strength Geosynthetics, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pp. 104-129.)

Holtz, R. D. and Christopher, B. R. (1987). Characteristics of Prefabricated Drains for


Accelerating Consolidation, Proceedings of the Ninth European Conference on Soil
Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Dublin, Ireland, Vol. 2, pp. 903-906.

Holtz, R. D. and Kovacs, W. D. (1981). An Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering,


Prentice-Hall, p. 210.

Hunt, J.R. (1982). The Development of Fin Drains for Structure Drainage, Proceedings of
the Second International Conference on Geotextiles, Las Vegas, NV, Vol. 1, pp. 25-36.

Kenney, T.C. and Lau, D. (1986). Reply (to discussions), Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 420-423,
Internal Stability of Granular Filters, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2,
1985, pp. 215-225.

Kenney, T.C. and Lau, D. (1985). Internal Stability of Granular Filters, Canadian
Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, 1985, pp. 215-225.

Koerner, R.M., Koerner, G.R., Fahim, A.K. and Wilson-Fahmy, R.F. (1994). Long
Term Performance of Geosynthetics in Drainage Applications, National Cooperative
Highway Research Program Report No. 367, 54 p.

LeFluer, J., Mlynarek, J. and Rollin, A.L. (1993). Filter Criteria for Well Graded
Cohesionless Soils, Filters in Geotechnical and Hydraulic Engineering, Proceedings of
the First International Conference - Geo-Filters, Karlsruhe, Brauns, Schuler, and
Heibaum Eds., Balkema, pp. 97-106.

LeFluer, J., Mlynarek, J. and Rollin, A.L. (1989). Filtration of Broadly Graded
Cohesionless Soils, Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, American Society of Civil
Engineers, Vol. 115, No. 12, pp. 1747-1768.

Mansur, C.I. and Kaufman, R.I. (1962). Dewatering, Chapter 3 in Foundation Engineering,
G.A. Leonards, Editor, McGraw-Hill, pp. 241-350.

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Maré, A.D. (1994). The Influence of Gradient Ratio Testing Procedures on the Filtration
Behavior of Geotextiles, MSCE Thesis, University of Washington.

Moulton, L.K. (1980). Highway Subdrainage Design, FHWA-TS-80-224.

NCHRP 1-37A (2004). Mechanistic-Empirical Design of New and Rehabilitated Pavement


Structures, Draft Final Report, NCHRP Project 1-37A, National Cooperative Highway
Research Program, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.

Sherard, J.L. (1986). Hydraulic Fracturing in Embankment Dams, Journal of Geotechnical


Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers, Vol. 112, No. 10, pp. 905-927.

Sherard, J.L. and Decker, R.S., Editors (1977). Dispersive Clays, Related Piping, and
Erosion in Geotechnical Projects, ASTM Special Technical Publication 623, American
Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, PA, 486p.

Sherard, J.L., Decker, R.S. and Ryker, N.L. (1972). Piping in Earth Dams of Dispersive
Clay, Proceedings of the ASCE Specialty Conference on Performance of Earth and Earth
-Supported Structures, American Society of Civil Engineers, New York, Vol. I, Part 1,
pp. 589-626.

Skempton, A.W. and Brogan, J.M. (1994). Experiments on Piping in Sandy Gravels,
Geotechnique, Vol. XLIV, No. 3, pp. 461-478.

Terzaghi, K., Peck, R.B., and Mesri, G. (1996). Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice,
Third Edition, John Wiley & Sons, New York, pp 330-332.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1977). Civil Works Construction Guide Specification for
Plastic Filter Fabric, Corps of Engineer Specifications No. CW-02215, Office, Chief of
Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of the Navy (1986). Design Manual 7.01 - Soil Mechanics, Department of
the Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Alexandria, VA. (can be downloaded
from http://www.geotechlinks.com).

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3.0 GEOTEXTILES IN RIPRAP REVETMENTS AND
OTHER PERMANENT EROSION CONTROL SYSTEMS

3.1 BACKGROUND

As in drainage systems, geotextiles can effectively replace graded granular filters typically
used beneath riprap or other hard armor materials in revetments and other erosion control
systems. This was one of the first applications of geotextiles in the United States; woven
monofilament geotextiles were initially used for this application with rather extensive
installation starting in the early 1960s. Numerous case histories have shown geotextiles to be
very effective compared to riprap-only systems and as effective as conventional graded
granular filters in preventing fines from migrating through the armor system. Furthermore,
geotextiles have proven to be very cost effective in this application.

Since the early developments in coastal and lake shoreline erosion control, the same design
concepts and construction procedures using geotextile filters have subsequently been applied
to stream bank protection (see HEC 11, FHWA, 1989), cut and fill slope protection,
protection of various small drainage structures (see HEC 14, FHWA, 2006) and ditches (see
HEC 15, FHWA, 2005), wave protection for causeway and shoreline roadway embankments,
and scour protection for structures such as bridge piers and abutments (see HEC 18, FHWA,
2001, and HEC 23, FHWA, 2001). Design guidelines and construction procedures with
geotextile filters for these and other similar permanent erosion control applications are
presented in Sections 3.3 through 3.10. Hydraulic design considerations can be found in the
AASHTO Model Drainage Manual (2005) and the above FHWA Hydraulic Engineering
Circulars. Also note that additional information and training are available in another NHI
course and reference manual. The course is entitled Design and Implementation of Erosion
and Sediment Control, and was developed in a joint effort between FHWA and the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) course.

Although this chapter focuses on geotextile filters in erosion control systems, there are other
geosynthetics used for permanent erosion protection including geocells and geosynthetic turf
reinforcing mats (TRMs). Geocells are three-dimensional cellular structures made from
formed expandable polyethylene (low and high density) panels. When the expanded panels
are interconnected, they form a 3-D cellular structure that provides confinement and
reinforcement to the free-draining sand and/or gravel infill. Geocells filled with clean gravel
or concrete have been successfully used for all the erosion control applications mentioned
above and as discussed in Section 3.10.

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TRMs are rolled erosion control products (RECPs) composed of nondegradable, three-
dimensional porous geosynthetic mats that reinforce the roots and help to retain soil and
moisture, thus promoting vegetation growth. These products together with vegetation form
a “biocomposite” that is very attractive and environmentally friendly. TRMs are a reinforced
grass system capable of withstanding short-term (e.g., 2 hours), high velocity (e.g., 20ft/s {6
m/s}) flows with minimal erosion. TRMs are addressed in Section 3.11.

Erosion control blankets (ECBs), temporary TRMs and other RECPs such as mulch control
nets (MCNs) are covered in Chapter 4.

3.2 APPLICATIONS

Riprap-geotextile systems have


been successful for precipitation
runoff collection and high-
velocity diversion ditches.

Geotextiles may be used in


slope protection to prevent or
reduce erosion from
precipitation, surface runoff,
and internal seepage or piping.
In this instance, the geotextile
may replace one or more layers
of granular filter materials that
would be placed on the slope in
conventional applications.

Erosion control systems with


geotextiles may be required
along stream banks to prevent
encroachment of roadways or
appurtenant facilities.

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Similarly, they may be used for
scour protection around
structures.

A riprap-geotextile system can


also be effective in reducing
erosion caused by wave attack
or tidal variations when
facilities are constructed across
or adjacent to large bodies of
water. Geocells can be used as
an alternate amour system to
replace riprap in slope
protection, diversion ditches
and other runoff applications.

Finally, hydraulic structures


such as culverts, drop inlets, and
artificial stream channels may
require protection from erosion.
In such applications, if
vegetation cannot be established
or the natural soil is highly
erodible, a geotextile can be
used beneath armor materials to
increase erosion resistance.

Geosynthetic erosion control


mats or TRMs are a three-
dimensional matrix of synthetic
yarns, meshes or webs and that
reinforce the vegetation root
mass and provide tractive
resistance to flowing water on
slopes and in ditches, channels,
and swales. These three-
dimensional mats retain soil,
moisture, and seed, and thus
promote vegetative growth.

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3.3 GEOTEXTILE FILTERS BENEATH HARD ARMOR: DESIGN CONCEPTS

Geotextile filter design for hard armor erosion control systems is essentially the same, with a
few exceptions, as the design for geotextile filters in subsurface drainage systems. It would
be a good idea to go back and reread Chapter 2, especially Sections 2.3 and 2.4. This section
highlights those exceptions and discusses the special considerations for geotextile filters
beneath hard armor erosion control systems.

3.3-1 Retention Criteria for Cyclic or Dynamic Flow


Many erosion control situations have cyclic or dynamic flow conditions, so soil particles may
be able to move behind the geotextile if it is not properly weighted down and in intimate
contact with the soil. Thus, unlike conventional filters, using a retention coefficient B = 1
may not be conservative, as the bridging network (Figure 2-2) may not develop and the
geotextile may be required to retain even the finer particles of soil. If there is a risk that
uplift of the armor system can occur, it is recommended that the B value be reduced to 0.5 or
less; that is, the largest hole in the geotextile should be small enough to retain the smaller
particles of soil.

In many erosion control applications it is common to have high hydraulic stresses induced by
wave or tidal action. The geotextile may be loose when it spans between large armor stone
or large joints in block-type armor systems. For these conditions, it is recommended that an
intermediate layer of finer stone or gravel be placed over the geotextile and that riprap of
sufficient weight be placed to prevent wave action from moving either stone or geotextile and
to maintain the intimate contact between the soil and geotextile filter. Geosynthetic
composites (e.g., geonet/geotextile composite) could also be considered beneath block-type
armor systems to prevent movement of the geotextile filter as well as uplift on the block. For
all applications where the geotextile can move, and when it is used as sandbags, it is
recommended that samples of the site soils be washed through the geotextile to determine its
particle-retention capabilities.

3.3-2 Permeability and Effective Flow Capacity Requirements for Erosion Control
In certain erosion control systems, portions of the geotextile may be covered by the armor
stone or concrete block revetment systems, or the geotextile may be used to span joints in
sheet pile bulkheads. For such systems, it is especially important to evaluate the flow rate
required through the open portion of the system and select a geotextile that meets those flow
requirements. Again, since flow is restricted through the geotextile, the required flow
capacity is based on the flow capacity of the area available for flow; or

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qrequired = qgeotextile(Ag/At) (Eq. 2 - 9)

where: Ag = geotextile area available for flow, and


At = total geotextile area.

The AASHTO M 288 Standard Specification for Geotextiles (2006) presents recommended
minimum permittivity values in relation to percent of in-situ soil passing the No.200 (0.075
mm) sieve. The values are presented in Section 3.4. These permittivity values are based
upon the predominant particle sizes of the in-situ soil and are additional qualifiers to the
permeability criteria.

3.3-3 Clogging Resistance for Cyclic or Dynamic Flow and for Problematic Soils
Since erosion control systems are often used on highly erodible soils with reversing and
cyclic flow conditions, severe hydraulic and soil conditions often exist. Accordingly, designs
should reflect these conditions, and soil-geotextile filtration tests should be conducted. Since
these tests are performance-type tests and require soil samples from the project site, they
must be conducted by the owner or the owner’s representative and not by geotextile
manufacturers or suppliers. Project specific testing should be performed especially if one or
more of the following problematic soil environments are encountered: unstable or highly
erodible soils such as non-cohesive silts; gap graded soils; alternating sand/silt laminated
soils; dispersive clays; and/or rock flour.

For sandy soils with k > 10-6 m/s the long-term, gradient ratio test (ASTM D 5101) is
recommended, as described in Chapters 1 and 2, and note that the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers recommends a maximum allowable gradient ratio (GR) of three. For soils with
permeabilities less than about 10-6 m/s, filtration tests should be conducted in a flexible wall
or triaxial type apparatus to ensure that the specimen is 100% saturated and that flow is
through the soil rather than along the sides of the specimen. The soil flexible wall test is
ASTM D 5084, while the Hydraulic Conductivity Ratio (HCR) test (ASTM D 5567)
currently is the standard test for geotextiles and soils with appreciable fines. The HCR test
should be considered only with the modifications and caveats recommended in Chapter 1.
Other filtration tests discussed in Chapters 1 and 2 should also be considered.

3.3-4 Survivability Criteria for Erosion Control


Because the construction procedures for erosion control systems are different than those for
drainage systems, the geotextile property requirements for survivability in Table 3-1 differ
somewhat from those discussed in Section 2.4-4. As placement of armor stone is generally
more severe than placement of drainage aggregate, required property values are higher for
each category of geotextile. Furthermore, the specifications should require the contractor to

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-5 August 2008
demonstrate in the field that their proposed armoring placement technique will not damage
the geotextile.

Riprap or armor stone should be large enough to withstand wave action and thus not abrade
the geotextile. The specific site conditions should be reviewed, and if such movement cannot
be avoided, then an abrasion requirement based on ASTM D 4886, Standard Test Method for
Abrasion Resistance of Geotextiles should be included in the specifications. Abrasion of
course only affects the physical and mechanics properties of the geotextile. No reduction in
piping resistance, permeability, or clogging resistance should be allowed after exposure to
abrasion.

It is important to realize that the survivability requirements in Table 3-1 are minimum
survivability values and are not based on any systematic research. They are based on the
properties of geotextiles that are known to have performed satisfactorily in various hard
armor erosion control applications. The values in Table 3-1 are meant to serve as guidelines
for inexperienced users in selecting geotextiles for routine projects. They are not intended to
replace site-specific evaluation, testing, and design.

3.3-5 Additional Filter Selection Considerations and Summary

To enhance system performance, special consideration should be given to the type of


geotextile chosen for certain soil and hydraulic conditions. The considerations listed in
Section 2.4-5 also apply to erosion control systems. As mentioned above, special attention
should be given to problematic, unstable, or highly erodible soils. Examples include non-
cohesive silts, gap graded soils, alternating sands and silts, dispersive clays, and rock flour.
Project specific laboratory testing should be performed especially for critical projects and
severe conditions.

In certain situations, multiple filter layers may be necessary. For example, a sand layer
could be placed on the soil subgrade, with the geotextile designed to filter the sand only but
with sufficient size and number of openings to allow any fines that do reach the geotextile to
pass through it. Another special consideration for erosion control applications relates to a
preference towards felted and rough versus slick surface geotextiles, especially on steeper
slopes where there is a potential for the riprap to slide on the geotextile. Such installations
must be assessed either through field trials or large-scale laboratory tests.

Figure 3-1 is a flow chart summarizing the FHWA filter design process.

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Table 3-1
Geotextile Strength Property Requirements1,2,3,4
for Permanent Erosion Control Geotextiles
(after AASHTO, 2006)
a,b,c
Geotextile Class

Class 1 Class 2
Test
Units
Methods Elongation Elongation Elongation Elongation
d d d d
< 50% > 50% < 50% > 50%

Grab strength ASTM D 4632 lb (N) 315 (1400) 200 (900) 250 (1100) 157 (700)
e
Sewn seam strength ASTM D 4632 lb (N) 280 (1260) 180 (810) 220 (990) 140 (630)
f
Tear strength ASTM D 4533 lb (N) 110 (500) 80 (350) 90 (400) 56 (250)

Puncture strength ASTM D 6241 lb (N) 620 (2750) 433 (1925) 495 (2200) 309 (1375)

Ultraviolet stability
ASTM D 4355 % 50% after 500 hours of exposure(5)
(retained strength)
a
Use Class 2 for woven monofilament geotextiles, and Class 1 for all other geotextiles.
b
As a general guideline, the default geotextile selection is appropriate for conditions of equal or less severity
than either of the following:
a) Armor layer stone weights do not exceed 220 lb (100 kg), stone drop is less than 3.3 ft. (1 m), and no
aggregate bedding layer is required.
b) Armor layer stone weights exceed 220 (100 kg), stone drop height is less than 3.3 ft. (1 m), and the
geotextile is protected by a 6-inch thick aggregate bedding layer designed to be compatible with the
armor layer. More severe applications require an assessment of geotextile survivability based on a
field trial section and may require a geotextile with higher strength properties.
c
The engineer may specify a Class 2 geotextile based on one or more of the following:
a) The engineer has found Class 2 geotextiles to have sufficient survivability based on field experience.
b) The engineer has found Class 2 geotextiles to have sufficient survivability based on laboratory testing
and visual inspection of a geotextile sample removed from a field test section constructed under
anticipated field conditions.
c) Armor layer stone weighs less than 220 (100 kg), stone drop height is less than 3.3 ft. (1 m), and the
geotextile is protected by a 6-inch thick aggregate bedding layer designed to be compatible with the
armor layer.
d) Armor layer stone weights do not exceed 220 lb (100 kg), stone is placed with a zero drop height.
d
As measured in accordance with ASTM D 4632.
e
When sewn seams are required. Refer to Appendix for overlap seam requirements.
f
The required MARV tear strength for woven monofilament geotextiles is 56 lb (250 N).
NOTES:
1. Acceptance of geotextile material shall be based on ASTM D 4759.
2. Acceptance shall be based upon testing of either conformance samples obtained using Procedure A of
ASTM D 4354, or based on manufacturer’s certifications and testing of quality assurance samples
obtained using Procedure B of ASTM D 4354.
3. Minimum; use value in weaker principal direction. All numerical values represent minimum average roll
value (i.e., test results from any sampled roll in a lot shall meet or exceed the minimum values in the
table). Lot samples according to ASTM D 4354.
4. Woven slit film geotextiles will not be allowed.
5. The original M288 specifications required 70% strength retention for erosion control applications due to
the potential of UV exposure between riprap.

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RETENTION CRITERIA

Steady State Flow Dynamic Flow Unstable Soils

Sands, Gravelly Sands, Silty Sands & Clayey Silts and Clays
Sands (< 50% passing No.200 sieve ) ( > 50% passing No.200 sieve )

For For For for Wovens for Nonwovens Performance Tests


2 > CU > 8 2 < CU < 4 4 < CU < 8 B=1& B = 1.8 & O95 < 0.5 D85 to Select Suitable
B=1 B = 0.5 CU B = 8 / CU O95 < D85 O95 < 1.8 D85 Geotextile

and
O95 < B D85 O95 < 0.3 mm

PERMEABILITY/PERMITTIVITY CRITERIA

For less critical applications and less severe conditions: For critical applications and severe
kgeotextile > ksoil conditions: kgeotextile > 10 ksoil

% Passing #200 sieve: < 15% 15% to 50% > 50%


Permittivity Required: Ψ > 0.5 sec-1 Ψ > 0.2 sec-1 Ψ > 0.1 sec-1

qrequired = qgeotextile (Ag/At)


CLOGGING RESISTANCE

For less critical applications and less severe conditions: For critical applications and severe conditions:

For CU < 3 Use Optional Qualifiers for gap-graded or silty soils Perform filtration test
For CU > 3
maximum O95 from For Nonwovens: n > 50% with on-site soils and
O95 > 3 D15
Retention Criteria For Woven monofilament and silt films: POA > 4% hydraulic conditions

SURVIVABILITY and ENDURANCE CRITERIA

Figure 3-1. Flow chart summary of the FHWA filter design procedure.

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3.4 GEOTEXTILE DESIGN GUIDELINES

STEP 1. Evaluate critical nature and site conditions.

A. Critical/less critical
1. If the erosion control system fails, will there be a risk of loss of life?
2. Does the erosion control system protect a significant structure, or will failure
lead to significant structural damage?
3. If the geotextile clogs, will failure occur with no warning? Will failure be
catastrophic?
4. If the erosion control system fails, will the repair costs greatly exceed
installation costs?

B. Severe/less severe
1. Are soils to be protected gap-graded, pipable, or dispersive?
2. Do the soils consist primarily of silts and uniform sands with 85% passing the
No.100 sieve?
3. Will the erosion control system be subjected to reversing or cyclic flow
conditions such as wave action or tidal variations?
4. Will high hydraulic gradients exist in the soils to be protected? Will rapid
drawdown conditions or seeps or weeps in the soil exist? Will blockage of
seeps and weeps produce high hydraulic pressures?
5. Will high-velocity conditions exist, such as in stream channels?

NOTE: If the answer is yes to any of the above questions, the design should proceed
under the critical/severe requirements; otherwise use the less critical/less severe
design approach.

STEP 2. Obtain soil samples from the site.

A. Perform grain size analyses


1. Determine percent passing the No.200 (0.075 mm)sieve.
2. Determine the plastic index (PI).
3. Calculate Cu = D60/D10.

NOTE: When the protected soil contains particles passing the No.200 (0.075 mm)
sieve, use only the gradation passing the No.4 (4.75 mm) sieve in selecting the
geotextile (i.e., scalp off the +#4 (+4.75 mm) material).

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-9 August 2008
4. Obtain D85 for each soil and select the worst case soil (i.e., soil with smallest B
× D85) for retention.

B. Perform field or laboratory permeability tests


1. Select worst case soil (i.e., soil with highest coefficient of permeability k).

NOTE: The permeability of clean sands (< 5% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) sieve)
with 0.1 mm D10 < 3 mm and Cu < 5 can be estimated by Hazen's formula, k = (D10)2
(k in cm/s; D10 in mm). This formula should not be used if the soil contains more
than 5% fines.

NOTE: Laboratory tests for permeability (hydraulic conductivity) are detailed in


ASTM D 2434 for granular soils, D 5856 using a compaction-mold permeameter, and
in D 5084 using a flexible-wall permeameter for soils with appreciable fines. Field
tests include pumping tests in boreholes and infiltrometer tests. Standard procedures
for several field tests are also in ASTM.

NOTE: A good visual classification of the soils at the site will enable an experienced
geotechnical engineer to estimate the permeability to the nearest order of magnitude,
which is often sufficient for geotextile filter design. The following table, adapted
from Casagrande (1938) and Holtz and Kovacs (1981), gives a range of hydraulic
conductivities for different natural soils.

Permeability or Hydraulic
Visual Classification
Conductivity, k (m/s)
Clean gravel > 0.01
Clean sands and clean sand-gravel mixtures 0.01 < k < 10-5
Very fine sands; silts; mixtures of sand, silt,
10-5 < k < 10-9
and clay; glacial tills; stratified clays
“Impervious” soils; homogeneous reasonably
k > 10-9
intact clays from below zone of weathering
“Impervious” soils, modified by vegetation,
≈ 5 x 10-5 < k < ≈ 5 x 10-8
weathering, fissured, highly OC clays

STEP 3. Evaluate armor material and placement.


Design reference: FHWA Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 15 (FHWA,
2005).

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A. Size armor stone or riprap
Where minimum size of stone exceeds 4 in. (100 mm), or greater than a 4-in. (100
mm) gap exists between blocks, an intermediate gravel layer at least 6 in. (150 mm)
thick should be used between the armor stone and geotextile. Gravel should be sized
such that it will not wash through the armor stone (i.e., D85(gravel) ≥ D15(riprap)/5).

B. Determine armor stone placement technique (i.e., maximum height of drop).

C. Consider alternate surface treatments such as with geocells (see section 3.10).

STEP 4. Determine anticipated reversing flow through the erosion control system.
Here we need to estimate the maximum flow from seeps and weeps, maximum flow
from wave action, or maximum flow from rapid drawdown.

A. General case -- use Darcy's law


q = kiA (Eq. 2 - 12)
where:
q = outflow rate (m3/sec)
k = effective permeability of soil (from Step 2B above) (m/sec)
i = average hydraulic gradient in soil (e.g., tangent of slope angle for wave
runup)(dimensionless)
A = area of soil and drain material normal to the direction of flow (m2). Can be
evaluated using a unit area.
Use a conventional flow net analysis (e.g., Cedergren, 1989) for seepage through
dikes and dams or from a rapid drawdown analysis.

B. Specific erosion control systems -- Hydraulic characteristics depend on expected


precipitation, runoff volumes and flow rates, stream flow volumes and water level
fluctuations, normal and maximum wave heights anticipated, direction of waves and
tidal variations. Detailed information on determination of these parameters is
available in the FHWA (1989) Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 11.

STEP 5. Determine geotextile requirements.

A. Retention Criteria
From Step 2A, obtain D85 and Cu; then determine largest opening size allowed.
AOS or O95(geotextile) < B D85(soil) (Eq. 2 - 1)
where: B = 1 for a conservative design.

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For a less-conservative design and for soils with < 50% passing the No.200 sieve:
B=1 for Cu < 2 or > 8 (Eq. 2 - 2a)
B = 0.5 Cu for 2 < Cu < 4 (Eq. 2 - 2b)
B = 8/Cu for 4 < Cu < 8 (Eq. 2 - 2c)

For soils with > 50% passing the No.200 sieve:


B=1 for woven geotextiles
B = 1.8 for nonwoven geotextiles
and AOS or O95 (geotextile) < 0.3 mm (Eq. 2 - 5)

If geotextile and soil retained by it can move, use:


B = 0.5 (Eq. 2 – 6)

B. Permeability/Permittivity Criteria
1. Less Critical/Less Severe
kgeotextile > ksoil (Eq. 2 - 7a)

2. Critical/Severe
kgeotextile > 10 ksoil (Eq. 2 – 7b)

3. Permittivity ψ Requirement

for < 15% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥ 0.7 sec-1 (Eq. 2 - 8a)
for 15 to 50% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥ 0.2 sec-1 (Eq. 2 - 8b)
for > 50 % passing No.200 (0.075 mm) ψ ≥ 0.1 sec-1 (Eq. 2 - 8c)

4. Flow Capacity Requirement


qgeotextile > (At/Ag) qrequired (Eq. 2 - 9)
or
(kgeotextile/t) h Ag ≥ qrequired

where: qrequired is obtained from Step 4 (Eq. 2-13) above (m3/sec)


kgeotextile/t = ψ = permittivity (sec-1)
h = average head in field (m)
Ag = area of geotextile available for flow (e.g., if 50% of

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-12 August 2008
geotextile covered by flat rocks or riprap, Ag = 0.5 total
area) (m2)
At = total area of geotextile (m2)

C. Clogging Criteria
1. Less critical/less severe

a. From Step 2A obtain D15; then


1. For soils with Cu > 3, determine minimum pore size requirement, from
O95 > 3 D15 (Eq. 2 - 10)
2. For Cu < 3, specify geotextile with maximum opening size possible
from retention criteria

b. Other qualifiers

For soils with % passing No.200 > 5% <5%

Woven monofilament geotextiles: Percent Open Area ≥ 4% 10%


Nonwoven geotextiles: Porosity ≥ 50% 70%

c. Alternative: Run filtration tests

2. Critical/severe
Select geotextiles that meet the above retention, permeability, and survivability
criteria; as well as the criteria in Step 5C.1 above; perform a long-term filtration
test.

Suggested filtration test for sandy soils is the gradient ratio (GR) test. The
hydraulic conductivity ratio (HCR) test is recommended by ASTM for fine-
grained soils, but as noted in Sections 1.5 and 2.4-3, the HCR test has serious
disadvantages.

Alternative: Consider long-term filtration tests, F3 tests and the Flexible Wall
GR test (see Section 1.5).

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D. Survivability
Select geotextile properties required for survivability from Table 3-1. Add
durability requirements if applicable. Don't forget to check for abrasion and check
drop height. Evaluate worst case scenario for drop height.

STEP 6. Estimate costs.


Calculate the volume of armor stone, the volume of aggregate and the area of the
geotextile. Apply appropriate unit cost values.

Grading and site preparation (LS) __________________


2 2
Geotextile (/yd {/m }) __________________
2 2
Geotextile placement (/yd {/m }) __________________
2 2
In-place aggregate bedding layer (/yd {/m }) __________________
Armor stone (/ton {/kg}) __________________
Armor stone placement (/ton {/kg}) __________________
Total cost __________________

STEP 7. Prepare specifications.


Include for the geotextile:
A. General requirements
B. Specific geotextile properties
C. Seams and overlaps
D. Placement procedures
E. Repairs
F. Testing and placement observation requirements
See Sections 1.6 and 3.7 for specification details.

STEP 8. Obtain samples of the geotextile before acceptance.

STEP 9. Monitor installation during construction, and control drop height. Observe erosion
control systems during and after significant storm events.

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3.5 GEOTEXTILE DESIGN EXAMPLE

DEFINITION OF DESIGN EXAMPLE

• Project Description: Riprap on slope is required to permit groundwater seepage


out of slope face, without erosion of slope. See figure for project
cross section.

• Type of Structure: small stone riprap slope protection

• Type of Application: geotextile filter beneath riprap

• Alternatives: i.) graded soil filter; or


ii.) geotextile filter between embankment and riprap

GIVEN DATA

• see cross section

• riprap is to allow unimpeded seepage out of slope

• riprap will consist of small stone (2 to 12 in. {50 mm to 0.3 m})

• stone will be placed by dropping from a backhoe

• seeps have been observed in the existing slope

• soil beneath the proposed riprap is a fine silty sand

• gradations of two representative soil samples

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-15 August 2008
Project Cross Section

PERCENT PASSING, BY WEIGHT


SIEVE SIZE
Sample A Sample B
(mm)
4.75 100 100
1.68 96 100
0.84 92 98
0.42 85 76
0.15 43 32
0.075 25 15

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-16 August 2008
DEFINE

A. Geotextile function(s)

B. Geotextile properties required

C. Geotextile specification

SOLUTION

A. Geotextile function(s):
Primary - filtration
Secondary - separation

B. Geotextile properties required:


apparent opening size (AOS)
permittivity
survivability

DESIGN

STEP 1. EVALUATE CRITICAL NATURE AND SITE CONDITIONS.

From given data, this is a critical application due to potential for loss of life and potential
for significant structural damage.
Soils are reasonably well-graded, hydraulic gradient is low for this type of application, and
flow conditions are steady state.

STEP 2. OBTAIN SOIL SAMPLES.

A. VISUAL CLASSIFICATION AND GRAIN SIZE ANALYSES

Visual classification (ASTM D 2488) indicates the fines are silty; therefore the soils are
classified as silty sands, SM.

Perform grain size analyses of the two soils. Plot gradations of representative soils. The
D60, D10, and D85 sizes from the gradation plot are noted in the table below for Samples A
and B.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-17 August 2008
B. PERMEABILITY TESTS
This is a critical application and soil permeability tests should of course be conducted. In
this example, however, we will use only an estimated permeability, just to show how the
design is done.

STEP 3. EVALUATE ARMOR MATERIAL AND PLACEMENT.

A. Small stone (2 to 12 in. {50 mm to 0.3 m}) riprap will be used (no wave action or
significant surface flow).

B. A placement drop of less than 3 ft (1 m) will be specified.

STEP 4. CALCULATE ANTICIPATED FLOW THROUGH SYSTEM.


Flow computations are not included within this example. The entire height of the slope face
will be protected. This is conservative and for better appearance.

STEP 5. DETERMINE GEOTEXTILE REQUIREMENTS.

A. RETENTION
AOS < B D85
Determine uniformity coefficient, Cu, coefficient B, and the maximum AOS.

Soil
Sample D60 ÷ D10 = Cu B= B × D85 > AOS
(mm)
A 0.20 ÷ 0.045 = 4.4 8 ÷ Cu = 8 ÷ 4.4 = 1.82 1.82 × 0.44 = 0.8
B 0.30 ÷ 0.06 = 5 8 ÷ Cu = 8 ÷ 5 = 1.6 1.6 × 0.54 = 0.86

Worst case for retention is Soil A, so Sample A controls (see table in Step 2.A, above);
therefore,
AOS < 0.8 mm

B. PERMEABILITY/PERMITTIVITY

This is a critical application, therefore,


kgeotextile > 10 × ksoil

For this example, let’s estimate the soil permeability (using Hazen's formula, but
recognizing that it is applicable only for clean uniform sands and is much less accurate for
soils with 25 to 15% fines. k ≈ (D10)2

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-18 August 2008
where: k = approximate soil permeability (cm/sec); and D10 is in mm.

ksoil = 2.0 (10)-3 cm/sec for Sample A


= 3.6 (10)-3 cm/sec for Sample B

Therefore (with rounding the number), kgeotextile > 4 (10)-2 cm/sec

Since 15% to 25% of the soil to be protected is finer than No.200 (0.075 mm), the
permittivity is:
ψgeotextile > 0.2 sec-1

C. CLOGGING

As the project is critical, a filtration test is recommended to evaluate clogging potential.


Select geotextile(s) meeting the retention and permeability criteria, along with the following
qualifiers:

Minimum Opening Size Qualifier (for Cu > 3): O95 > 3 D15

O95 > 3 × 0.057 = 0.17 mm for Sample A


3 × 0.079 = 0.24 mm for Sample B

Sample A controls, therefore, O95 > 0.17 mm

Other Qualifiers, since greater than 5% of the soil to be protected is finer than No.200, from
Table 3-1:

for Nonwoven geotextiles - Porosity > 50 %


for Woven geotextiles - POA (Percent Open Area) > 4 %

Then run a filtration test to evaluate long-term clogging potential. As the material is quite
silty, the gradient ratio test (ASTM D 5101) may take up to several weeks to stabilize. After
testing, geotextiles that perform satisfactorily can be prequalified. Alternatively, geotextiles
proposed by the contractor must be evaluated prior to installation to confirm compatibility.

D. SURVIVABILITY
A Class 1 geotextile will be specified because this is a critical application. Effect on project
cost is minor. Therefore, from Table 3-1, the following minimum values will be specified
except for the UV resistance. Because this is a critical project and there is a potential for
exposure between riprap, we will increase the UV resistance for this example.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-19 August 2008
<50% Elongation >50% Elongation
Grab Strength 315 lb (1400 N) 200 lb (900 N)
Sewn Seam Strength 280 lb (1260 N) 180 lb (810 N)
Tear Strength 110 lb (500 N) 80 lb (350 N)
Puncture Strength 620 lb (2750 N) 433 lb (1925 N)
Ultraviolet Degradation 70 % strength retained at 500 hours

Complete Steps 6 through 9 to finish design.

STEP 6. ESTIMATE COSTS.

STEP 7. PREPARE SPECIFICATIONS.

STEP 8. COLLECT SAMPLES.

STEP 9. MONITOR INSTALLATION, AND DURING & AFTER STORM EVENTS.

3.6 GEOTEXTILE COST CONSIDERATIONS

The total cost of a riprap-geotextile revetment system will depend on the actual application
and type of revetment selected. The following items should be considered:
1. grading and site preparation;
2. cost of geotextile, including cost of overlapping and pins versus cost of sewn
seams;
3. cost of placing geotextile, including special considerations for below-water
placement;
4. bedding materials, if required, including placement;
5. armor stone, concrete blocks, sand bags, etc.; and
6. placement of armor stone (dropped versus hand- or machine-placed).

For Item No. 2, the cost of overlapping includes the extra material required for the overlap,
cost of pins, and labor considerations versus the cost of field and/or factory seaming, plus the
additional cost of laboratory seam testing. These costs can be obtained from manufacturers,
but typical costs of a sewn seam are equivalent to 1.2 to 1.8 yd2 (1 to 1.5 m2) of geotextile.
Alternatively, the contractor can be required to supply the cost on an area covered or in-place
basis. For example, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Specifications (CW-02215, 1977) require

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Geosynthetics Engineering 3-20 August 2008
measurement for payment for geotextiles in streambank and slope protection to be on an in-
place basis without allowance for any material in laps and seams. Further, the unit price
includes furnishing all plant, labor, material, equipment, securing pins, etc., and performing
all operations in connection with placement of the geotextile, including prior preparation of
banks and slopes. Of course, field performance should also be considered, and sewn seams
are generally preferred to overlaps. For many erosion protection projects, the decision
whether to sew or overlap is left to the contractor, with a bid item for the geotextile based on
the area to be covered.

Another important consideration for Items 2, 4, and 6 is the difference between Moderate
versus High Survivability geotextiles (Table 3-1) and its effect on the cost of bedding
materials and placement of armor stone. Class 1 geotextile materials typically cost 20%
more than Class 2 materials.

To determine cost effectiveness, benefit-cost ratios should be compared for the riprap-
geotextile system versus conventional riprap-granular filter systems or other available
alternatives of equal technical feasibility and operational practicality. Average cost of
geotextile protection systems placed above the water level, including slope preparation,
geotextile cost of seaming or securing pins, and placement is approximately $2.50-$5.00 per
square yard, excluding the armor stone. Cost of placement below water level can vary
considerably depending on the site conditions and the contractor's experience. For below-
water placement, it is recommended that prebid meetings be held with potential contractors
to explore ideas for placement and discuss anticipated costs.

3.7 GEOTEXTILE SPECIFICATIONS

In addition to the general recommendations concerning specifications in Chapter 1, erosion


control specifications must include construction details (see Section 3.8), as the appropriate
geotextile will depend on the placement technique. In addition, the specifications should
require the contractor to demonstrate through trial sections that the proposed riprap
placement technique will not damage the geotextile.

Many erosion control projects may be better served by performance-type filtration tests that
provide an indication of long-term performance. Thus, in many cases, approved list-type
specifications, as discussed in Section 1.6, may be appropriate. To develop the list of
approved geotextiles, filtration studies (as suggested in Sections 1.5 and 3.4, Step 5) should
be performed using problem soils and conditions that exist in the localities where geotextiles
will be used. An approved list for each condition should be established. In addition,

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geotextiles should be classified as High or Moderate Survivability geotextiles, in accordance
with the index properties listed in Table 3-1 and construction conditions.

The following example specification is a combination of the AASHTO M288 (2006)


geotextile material specification and its accompanying construction/installation guidelines. It
includes the requirements discussed in Section 1.6 for a good specification. As with the
specification presented in Chapter 2, site-specific hydraulic and physical properties must be
appropriately selected and included.

EROSION CONTROL GEOTEXTILE SPECIFICATION


(after AASHTO M288, 2006)
1. SCOPE

1.1 Description. This specification is applicable to the use of a geotextile between energy absorbing
armor systems and the in-situ soil to prevent soil loss resulting in excessive scour and to prevent
hydraulic uplift pressure causing instability of the permanent erosion control system. This
specification does not apply to other types of geosynthetic soil erosion control materials such as
turf reinforcement mats.

2. REFERENCED DOCUMENTS

2.1 AASHTO Standards


T88 Particle Size Analysis of Soils
T90 Determining the Plastic Limit and Plasticity Index of Soils
T99 The Moisture-Density Relationships of Soils Using a 2.5 kg Rammer and a 305 mm
Drop

2.2 ASTM Standards


D 123 Standard Terminology Relating to Textiles
D 276 Test Methods for Identification of Fibers in Textiles
D 4354 Practice for Sampling of Geosynthetics for Testing
D 4355 Test Method for Deterioration of Geotextiles from Exposure to Ultraviolet Light and
Water (Xenon Arc Type Apparatus)
D 4439 Terminology for Geosynthetics
D 4491 Test Methods for Water Permeability of Geotextiles by Permittivity
D 4632 Test Method for Grab Breaking Load and Elongation of Geotextiles
D 4751 Test Method for Determining Apparent Opening Size of a Geotextile
D 4759 Practice for Determining the Specification Conformance of Geosynthetics
D 4873 Guide for Identification, Storage, and Handling of Geotextiles
D 5141 Test Method to Determine Filtering Efficiency and Flow Rate for Silt Fence
Applications Using Site Specific Soil
D 5261 Test Method for Measuring Mass per Unit Area of Geotextiles

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D 6241 Test Method for Static Puncture Strength of Geotextiles and Geotextile
Related Products Using a 50-mm Probe

3. PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL REQUIREMENTS

3.1 Fibers used in the manufacture of geotextiles and the threads used in joining geotextiles by
sewing, shall consist of long chain synthetic polymers, composed of at least 95% by weight
polyolefins or polyesters. They shall be formed into a stable network such that the filaments or
yarns retain their dimensional stability relative to each other, including selvages.

3.2 Geotextile Requirements. The geotextile shall meet the requirements of following Table.
Woven slit film geotextiles (i.e., geotextiles made from yarns of a flat, tape-like character) will
not be allowed. All numeric values in the following table, except AOS, represent minimum
average roll values (MARV) in the weakest principal direction (i.e., average test results of any
roll in a lot sampled for conformance or quality assurance testing shall meet or exceed the
minimum values). Values for AOS represent maximum average roll values.

NOTE: The property values in the following table represent default values which
provide for sufficient geotextile survivability under most conditions. Minimum
property requirements may be reduced when sufficient survivability information
is available [see Notes a, b of Table 3-1 and Appendix D]. The engineer may also
specify properties different from that listed in the following Table based on
engineering design and experience.

Permanent Erosion Control Geotextile Requirements


Geotextile
All other geotextiles
Property ASTM Test Units Woven Elongation Elongation
Method Monofilament < 50%(1) > 50%(1)
Grab Strength D 4632 N 1100 1400 900
(2)
Sewn Seam Strength D 4632 N 990 1200 810
Tear Strength D 4533 N 250 500 350
Puncture Strength D 6241 N 2200 2750 1925
Percent In-situ Passing No.200 Sieve(3)
< 15 15 to 50 > 50
Permittivity D 4491 sec-1 0.7 0.2 0.1
Apparent Opening Size D 4751 mm 0.43 0.25 0.22
Ultraviolet Stability D 4355 % 70% after 500 hours of exposure
NOTES:
(1) As measured in accordance with ASTM D 4632.
(2) When sewn seams are required.
(3) Based on grain size analysis of in-situ soil in accordance with AASHTO T88.

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4. CERTIFICATION

4.1 The Contractor shall provide to the engineer a certificate stating the name of the manufacturer,
product name, style number, chemical composition of the filaments or yarns, and other pertinent
information to fully describe the geotextile.

4.2 The manufacturer is responsible for establishing and maintaining a quality control program to
assure compliance with the requirements of the specification. Documentation describing the
quality control program shall be made available upon request.

4.3 The manufacturer’s certificate shall state that the furnished geotextile meets MARV
requirements of the specification as evaluated under the manufacturer’s quality control program.
A person having legal authority to bind the manufacturer shall attest to the certificate.

4.4 Either mislabeling or misrepresentation of materials shall be reason to reject those geotextile
products.

5. SAMPLING, TESTING, AND ACCEPTANCE

5.1 Geotextiles shall be subject to sampling and testing to verify conformance with this
specification. Sampling shall be in accordance with the most current ASTM D 4354 using the
section titled, “Procedure for Sampling for Purchaser’s Specification Conformation Testing.” In
the absence of purchaser’s testing, verification may be based on manufacturer’s certifications as
a result of a testing by the manufacturer of quality assurance samples obtained using he
procedure for Sampling or Manufacturer’s Quality Assurance (MQA) Testing. A lot size shall
be considered to be the shipment quantity of the given product or a truckload of the given
product, whichever is smaller.

5.2 Testing shall be performed in accordance with the methods referenced in this specification for
the indicated application. The number of specimens to test per sample is specified by each test
method. Geotextile product acceptance shall be based on ASTM D 4759. Product acceptance is
determined by comparing the average test results of all specimens within a given sample to the
specification MARV. Refer to ASTM D 4759 for more details regarding geotextile acceptance
procedures.

6. SHIPMENT AND STORAGE

6.1 Geotextile labeling, shipment, and storage shall follow ASTM D 4873. Product labels shall
clearly show the manufacturer or supplier name, style number, and roll number. Each shipping
document shall include a notation certifying that the material is in accordance with the
manufacturer’s certificate.

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6.2 Each geotextile roll shall be wrapped with a material that will protect the geotextile, and the ends
of the roll, from damage due to shipment, water, sunlight, and contaminants. The protective
wrapping shall be maintained during periods of shipment and storage.

6.3 During storage, geotextile rolls shall be elevated off the ground and adequately covered to protect
them from the following: site construction damage, precipitation, extended ultraviolet radiation
including sunlight, chemicals that are strong acids or strong bases, flames including welding
sparks, temperatures in excess of 71EC (160EF), and any other environmental condition that may
damage the physical property values of the geotextile.

7. CONSTRUCTION

7.1 General. Atmospheric exposure of geotextiles to the elements following lay down shall be a
maximum of 14 days to minimize damage potential.

7.2 Seaming.

a. If a sewn seam is to be used for the seaming of the geotextile, the thread used shall consist of
high strength polypropylene, or polyester. Nylon thread shall not be used. For erosion control
applications, the thread shall also be resistant to ultraviolet radiation. The thread shall be of
contrasting color to that of the geotextile itself.

b. For seams which are sewn in the field, the contractor shall provide at least a two m length of
sewn seam for sampling by the engineer before the geotextile is installed. For seams which are
sewn in the factory, the engineer shall obtain samples of the factory seams at random from any
roll of geotextile which is to be used on the project.

b.1 For seams that are field sewn, the seams sewn for sampling shall be sewn using the same
equipment and procedures as will be used for the production of seams. If seams are to be
sewn in both the machine and cross machine directions, samples of seams from both
directions shall be provided.

b.2 The contractor shall submit the seam assembly along with the sample of the seam. The
description shall include the seam type, stitch type, sewing thread, and stitch density.

7.3 Geotextile Placement.

a. The geotextile shall be placed in intimate contact with the soils without wrinkles or folds and
anchored on a smooth graded surface approved by the engineer. The geotextile shall be placed
in such a manner that placement of the overlying materials will not excessively stretch so as to
tear the geotextile. Anchoring of the terminal ends of the geotextile shall be accomplished
through the use of key trenches or aprons at the crest and toe of slope. [See Figure 3-2.]

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NOTE 1: In certain applications to expedite construction, 450 mm anchoring pins
placed on 600 to 1800 mm centers, depending on the slope of the covered area,
have been used successfully.

b. The geotextile shall be placed with the machine direction parallel to the direction of water
flow which is normally parallel to the slope for erosion control runoff and wave action (Figure
X1.4), and parallel to the stream or channel in the case of streambank and channel protection
(Figure X1.6). Adjacent geotextile sheets shall be joined by either sewing or overlapping.
Overlapped seams of roll ends shall be a minimum of 300 mm except where placed under water.
In such instances the overlap shall be a minimum of 1 m. Overlaps of adjacent rolls shall be a
minimum of 300 mm in all instances. See Figure 3-3 [this manual].

NOTE 2: When overlapping, successive sheets of the geotextile shall be overlapped


upstream over downstream, and/or upslope over downslope. In cases where wave action or
multidirectional flow is anticipated, all seams perpendicular to the direction of flow shall be
sewn.
c. Armor. The armor system placement shall begin at the toe and proceed up the slope.
Placement shall take place so as to avoid stretching resulting in tearing of the geotextile. Riprap
and heavy stone filling shall not be dropped from a height of more than 300 mm. Stone
weighing more than 450 N shall not be allowed to roll down the slope.

c.1 Slope protection and smaller sizes of stone filling shall not be dropped from a height
exceeding 1 m, or a demonstration provided showing that the placement procedures will not
damage the geotextile. In under water applications, the geotextile and backfill material
shall be placed the same day. All void spaces in the armor stone shall be backfilled with
small stone to ensure full coverage.

c.2 Following placement of the armor stone, grading of the slope shall not be permitted if the
grading results in movement of the stone directly above the geotextile.

d. Damage. Field monitoring shall be performed to verify that the armor system placement does
not damage the geotextile.

d.1 Any geotextile damaged during backfill placement shall be replaced as directed by the
engineer, at the contractor’s expense.

8. METHOD OF MEASUREMENT

8.1 The geotextile shall be measured by the number of square yards computed from the payment
lines shown on the plans or from payment lines established in writing by the engineer. This
excludes seam overlaps, but shall include geotextiles used in crest and toe of slope treatments.

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8.2 Slope preparation, excavation and backfill, bedding, and cover material are separate pay
items.

9. BASIS OF PAYMENT

9.1 The accepted quantities of geotextile shall be paid for per square yard in place.

9.2 Payment will be made under:

Pay Item Pay Unit


Erosion Control Geotextile Square Yard

3.8 GEOTEXTILE INSTALLATION PROCEDURES

Construction requirements will depend on specific application and site conditions.


Photographs of several installations are shown in Figure 3-2. The following general
construction considerations apply for most riprap-geotextile erosion protection systems.
Special considerations related to specific applications and alternate riprap designs will
follow.

3.8-1 General Construction Considerations


1. Grade area and remove debris to provide smooth, fairly even surface.
a. Depressions or holes in the slope should be filled to avoid geotextile bridging
and possible tearing when cover materials are placed.
b. Large stones, limbs, and other debris should be removed prior to placement to
prevent fabric damage from tearing or puncturing during stone placement.

2. Place geotextile loosely, laid with machine direction in the direction of anticipated
water flow or movement.

3. Seam or overlap the geotextile as required.


a. For overlaps, adjacent rolls of geotextile should be overlapped a minimum of 1
ft (0.3 m). Overlaps should be in the direction of water flow and stapled or
pinned to hold the overlap in place during placement of stone. Steel pins are
normally 3/16-in. (5 mm) diameter, 18 in. (0.5 m) long, pointed at one end, and
fitted with 1½-in. (38 mm) diameter washers at the other end. Pins should be
spaced along all overlap alignments at a distance of approximately 3 ft (1 m)
center to center.

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(a) (b)

(c)
Figure 3-2. Erosion control installations: a) installation in wave protection revetment; b)
river shoreline application; and c) stream application.

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b. The geotextile should be pinned loosely so it can easily conform to the ground
surface and give when stone is placed.
c. If seamed, seam strength should equal or exceed the minimum seam
requirements indicated in Section 1.6 on Specifications.

4. The maximum allowable slope on which a hard armor-geotextile system can be


placed is equal to the lowest soil-geotextile friction angle for the natural ground or
stone-geotextile friction angle for cover (armor) materials. Additional reductions in
slope may be necessary due to hydraulic considerations and possible long-term
stability conditions. For slopes greater than 2.5 to 1, special construction
procedures will be required, including toe berms to provide a buttress against
slippage, loose placement of geotextile sufficient to allow for downslope movement,
elimination of pins at overlaps, increase in overlap requirements, and possible
benching of the slope. Care should be taken not to put irregular wrinkles in the
geotextile because erosion channels can form beneath the geotextile.

Geocell containment systems, as covered in Section 3.10, and block systems can be
used on steeper slopes with special cables and anchorage systems. Special
construction procedures are also necessary to place the cells and the infill material.
Depending on the site specific runoff conditions, the cells can be filled either with
gravel (hard armor) or soil and vegetated (soft).

5. For streambank and wave action applications, the geotextile must be keyed in at the
bottom of the slope. If the riprap-geotextile system cannot be extended a few yards
above the anticipated maximum high water level, the geotextile should be keyed in at
the crest of the slope. The geotextile should no be keyed in at the crest until after
placement of the riprap. Alternative key details are shown in Figure 3-3.

6. Place revetment (cushion layer and/or riprap) over the geotextile width, while
avoiding puncturing or tearing it.
a. Revetment should be placed on the geotextile within 14 days.
b. Placement of armor cover will depend on the type of riprap, whether quarry
stone, sandbags (which may be constructed of geotextiles), interlocked or
articulating concrete blocks, soil-cement filled bags, filled geocells, or other
suitable slope protection is used.
c. For sloped surfaces, placement should always start from the base of the slope,
moving up slope and, preferably, from the center outward.
d. In no case should stone weighing more than 90 lbs (40 kg) be allowed to roll
downslope on the geotextile.

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e. Field trials should be performed to determine if placement techniques will
damage the geotextile and to determine the maximum height of safe drop. As a
general guideline, for High Survivability (Class 1) geotextiles (Table 3-1) with
no cushion layer, height of drop for stones less than 220 lbs (100 kg) should be
less than 3 ft (1 m). For High Survivability (Class 1) geotextiles (Table 3-1) or
Moderate Survivability (Class 2) geotextiles with a 6-in. (150 mm) thick small
aggregate cushion layer, height of drop for stones less than 220 lbs (100 kg)
should be less than 3 ft (1 m). Stones greater than 220 lbs (100 kg) should be
placed with no free fall unless field trials demonstrate they can be dropped
without damaging the geotextile.
f. Grading of slopes should be performed during placement of riprap. Grading
should not be allowed after placement if it results in stone movement directly
on the geotextile.

As previously indicated, construction requirements will depend on specific application and


site conditions. In some cases, geotextile selection is affected by construction procedures.
For example, if the system will be placed below water, a geotextile that facilitates such
placement must be chosen. The geotextile may also affect the construction procedures. For
example, the geotextile must be completely covered with riprap for protection from long-
term exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Sufficient anchorage must also be provided by the
riprap for weighting the geotextile in below-water applications. Other requirements related
to specific applications are depicted in Figure 3-4 and are reviewed in the following
subsections (from Christopher and Holtz, 1985).

3.8-2 Cut and Fill Slope Protection


Cut and fill slopes are generally protected using an armor stone over a geotextile-type
system. Special consideration must be given to the steepness of the slope. After grading,
clearing, and leveling a slope, the geotextile should be placed directly on the slope. When
possible, geotextile placement should be placed parallel to the slope direction. A minimum
overlap of 1 ft (0.3 m) between adjacent roll ends and a minimum 1 ft (0.3 m) overlap of
adjacent strips is recommended. It is also important to place the up-slope geotextile over the
down-slope geotextile to prevent overlap separation during aggregate placement. When
placing the aggregate, do not push the aggregate up the slope against the overlap. Generally,
cut and fill slopes are protected with armor stone or geocells, and the recommended
placement procedures in Section 3.8-1 should be followed.

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Figure 3-3. Construction of hard armor erosion control systems (a., b. after Keown and
Dardeau, 1980; c. after Dunham and Barrett, 1974). 1 m = 3.3 ft.

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Figure 3-4. Special construction requirements related to specific hard armor erosion control
applications. 1 m = 3.3 ft.

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Figure 3-4. Special construction requirements related to specific hard armor erosion control
applications (cont.).

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3.8-3 Streambank Protection
For streambank protection, selecting a geotextile with appropriate clogging resistance to
protect the natural soil and meet the expected hydraulic conditions is extremely important.
Should clogging occur, excess hydrostatic pressures in the streambank could result in slope
stability problems. Do not solve a surface erosion problem by causing a slope stability
problem!

Detailed data on geotextile installation procedures and relevant case histories for streambank
protection applications are given by Keown and Dardeau (1980). Construction procedures
essentially follow the procedures listed in Section 3.8-1. The geotextile should be placed on
the prepared streambank with the machine direction placed parallel to the bank (and parallel
to the direction of stream flow). Adjacent rolls of geotextile should be seamed, sewed, or
overlapped; if overlapped, secure the overlap with pins or staples. A 1 ft (0.3 m) overlap is
recommended for adjacent roll edges, with the upstream roll edge placed over the
downstream roll edge. Roll ends should be overlapped 3 ft (1 m) and offset as shown in
Figure 3-4a. The upslope roll should overlap the downslope roll.

The geotextile should be placed along the bank to an elevation well below mean low water
level based on the anticipated flows in the stream. Existing agency design criteria for
conventional nongeotextile streambank protection could be utilized to locate the toe of the
erosion protection system. In the absence of other specifications, placement to a vertical
distance of 3 ft (1 m) below mean water level, or to the bottom of the streambed for streams
shallower than 3 ft (1 m), is recommended. Geotextiles should either be placed to the top of
the bank or at a given distance up the slope above expected high water level from the
appropriate design storm event, including whatever requirements are normally used for
conventional (nongeotextile) streambank protection systems. In the absence of other
specifications, the geotextile should extend vertically a minimum of 18 in. (0.5 m) above the
expected maximum water stage, or at least 3 ft (1 m) beyond the top of the embankment if
less than 18 in. (0.5 m) above expected water level.

If strong water movements are expected, the geotextile must be keyed in at the top and toed
in at the bottom of the embankment. The riprap or filled geocells should be extended beyond
the geotextile 18 in. (0.5 m) or more at the toe and the crest of the slope. If scour occurs at
the toe and the surface armor beyond the geotextile is undermined, it will in effect toe into
the geotextile. The whole unit thus drops, until the toed-in section is stabilized. However, if
the geotextile extends beyond the stone and scour occurs, the geotextile will flap in the water
action and tend to accelerate the formation of a scour pit or trench at the toe. Alternative toe
treatments are shown in Figure 3-3. The trench methods in Figures 3-3a and 3-3b require
excavating a trench at the toe of the slope. This may be a good alternative for new

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construction; however, it should be evaluated with respect to slope stability when a trench
will be excavated at the toe of a potentially saturated slope below the water level. Keying in
at the top can consist of burying the top bank edge of the geotextile in a shallow trench after
placement of the armor material. This will provide resistance to undermining from
infiltration of over-the-bank precipitation runoff, and also provide stability should a storm
greater than anticipated occur. However, unless excessive quantities of runoff are expected
and stream flows are relatively small, this step is usually omitted.

The armoring material (e.g., riprap, sandbags, blocks, filled geocells) must be placed to avoid
tearing or puncturing the geotextile, as indicated in Section 3.8-1.

3.8-4 Precipitation Runoff Collection and Diversion Ditches


Runoff drainage from cut slopes along the sides of roads and in the median of divided
highways is normally controlled with one or more gravity flow ditches. Runoff from the
pavement surface and shoulder slopes are collected and conveyed to drop inlets, stream
channels, or other highway drainage structures. If a rock protection-geotextile system is used
to control localized ditch erosion problems, select and specify the geotextile using the
properties indicated in Table 3-1. Geotextile requirements for ditch linings are less critical
than for other types of erosion protection, and minimum requirements for noncritical,
nonsevere applications can generally be followed. If care is taken during construction, the
protected strength requirements appear reasonable. The geotextile should be sized with AOS
to prevent scour and piping erosion of the underlying natural soil and to be strong enough to
survive stone placement.

The ditch alignment should be graded fairly smooth, with depressions and gullies filled and
large stones and other debris removed from the ditch alignment. The geotextile should be
placed with the machine direction parallel to the ditch alignment. Most geotextiles are
available in widths of 6.6 ft (2 m) or more, and, thus, a single roll width of geotextile may
provide satisfactory coverage on the entire ditch. If more than one roll width of geotextile is
required, it is better to sew adjacent rolls together. This can be done by the manufacturer or
on site. Again, for seams, the required strength of the seam should meet the minimum seam
requirements in Table 3-1. The longitudinal seam produced by roll joining will run parallel
with the ditch alignment. Geotextile widths should be ordered to avoid overlaps at the
bottom of the ditch, since this is where maximum water velocity occurs. Roll ends should
also be sewn or overlapped and pinned or stapled. If overlap is used, then an overlap of at
least 3 ft (1 m) is recommended. The upslope roll end should be lapped over the downslope
roll end, to prevent in-service undermining. Pins or staples should be spaced so slippage will
not occur during stone placement or after the ditch is placed in service.

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Cover stone, sandbags, infilled geocells or other material intended to dissipate precipitation
runoff energy should be placed directly on the geotextile, from downslope to upslope. Cover
stone should have sufficient depth and gradation to protect the geotextile from ultraviolet
radiation exposure. Again, the cover material should be placed with care, especially if a
Class 2 geotextiles has been selected. A cross section of the proper placement is shown in
Figure 3-4c. Vegetative cover can be established through the geotextile and stone cover if
openings in the geotextile are sufficient to support growth. If a vegetative cover is desirable,
geotextiles should be selected on the basis of the largest opening possible, or consider the use
of RECPs and TRMs, as discussed in Sec. 3.12.

3.8-5 Wave Protection Revetments


Because of cyclic flow conditions, geotextiles used for wave protection systems in most
cases should be selected on the basis of severe criteria. The geotextile should be placed in
accordance with the procedures listed in Section 3.8-1.

If a geotextile will be placed where existing riprap, rubble, or other armor materials placed
on natural soil have been unsuccessful in retarding wave erosion, site preparation could
consist of covering the existing riprap with a filter sand. The geotextile could then be
designed with less rigorous requirements as a filter for the sand than if the geotextile is
required to filter finer soils.

The geotextile is unrolled and loosely laid on the smooth graded slope. The machine
direction of the geotextile should be placed parallel to the slope direction, rather than
perpendicular to the slope, as was recommended in streambank protection. Thus, the long
axis of the geotextile strips will be parallel to anticipated wave action. Sewing of adjacent
rolls or overlapping rolls and roll ends should follow the steps described in Section 3.8-1,
except that a 3 ft (1 m) overlap distance is recommended by the Corps of Engineers for
underwater placement (Figure 3-4). Again, securing pins (requirements per Section 3.8-1)
should be used to hold the geotextile in place.

If a large part of the geotextile is to be placed below the existing tidal level, special
fabrication and placement techniques may be required. It may be advantageous to pre-sew
the geotextile into relatively large panels and pull the prefabricated panels downslope,
anchoring them below the waterline. Depending upon the placement scheme used, selection
of a floating or nonfloating geotextile may be advantageous. In some cases with very strong
storm waves, composite mats made of geotextiles, fascines, and other bedding materials are
constructed on land, rolled up, and then unrolled off of an offshore barge with divers and
weights facilitating underwater placement.

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Because of potential wave action undermining, the geotextile must be securely toed-in using
one of the schemes shown in Figure 3-3. Also, a key trench should be placed at the top of the
bank, as shown in Figure 3-3a, to prevent revetment stripping should the embankment be
overtopped by wave action during high-level storm events.

Riprap or cover stone should be placed on the geotextile from downslope to upslope, and
stone placement techniques should be designed to prevent puncturing or tearing of the
geotextile. Drop heights should follow the recommendations stated in the general
construction criteria (see 3.8-1). Riprap or cover stone can also be placed underwater by
cranes or bottom dump barges.

3.8-6 Scour Protection


Scour, because of high flows around or adjacent to structures in rivers or coastal areas,
generally requires scour protection for structures. Scour protection systems generally fall
under the critical and/or severe design criteria for geotextile selection.

An extremely wide variety of transportation-associated structures are possible and, thus,


numerous ways exist to protect such structures with riprap geotextile systems. A typical
application is shown in Figure 3-4d. In all instances, the geotextile is placed on a smoothly
graded surface as stated in the general construction requirements (Section 3.8-1). Such site
preparation may be difficult if the geotextile will be placed underwater, but normal stream
action may provide a fairly smooth streambed. In bridge pier protection or culvert approach
and discharge channel protection applications, previous high-velocity stream flow may have
scoured a depression around the structure. Depressions should be filled with granular
cohesionless material. It is usually desirable to place the geotextile and riprap in a shallow
depression around bridge piers to prevent unnecessary constriction of the stream channel.

The geotextile should normally be placed with the machine direction parallel to the
anticipated water flow direction. Seaming and/or overlapping of adjacent rolls should be
performed as recommended in general construction requirements (Section 3.8-1). When roll
ends are overlapped, the upstream ends should be placed over the downstream end. As
necessary and appropriate, the geotextile may be secured in place with steel pins, as
previously described. Securing the geotextile in the proper position may be of extreme
importance in bridge pier scour protection. However, under high-flow velocities or in deep
water, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to secure the geotextile with steel pins alone.
Underwater securing methods must then be developed, and they will be unique for each
project. Alternative methods include floating the geotextile into place, then filling from the
center outward with stones, building a frame to which the geotextile can be sewn; using a
heavy frame to submerge and anchor the geotextile; or constructing a light frame, then

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floating the geotextile and sinking it with riprap. In any case, it may be desirable to specify a
geotextile which will either float or sink, depending upon the construction methods chosen.
In general, geotextiles with a bulk density greater than 1 g/cm3 will sink (i.e., provided the air
contained in the geotextile can be readily removed by submersion) while those less than 1
g/cm3 will float.

Riprap, precast concrete blocks, bedding materials if used, or other elements placed on the
geotextile should be placed without puncturing or tearing the geotextile. Drop heights should
be selected on the basis of geotextile strength criteria, as discussed in the general
construction requirements (Section 8.3-1).

3.9 GEOTEXTILE FIELD INSPECTION

In addition to the general field inspection checklist presented in Table 1-4, the field inspector
should pay close attention to construction procedures. If significant movement (greater than
6 in.) of stone or concrete riprap occurs during or after placement, the blocks should be
removed so that the overlaps can be inspected to ensure they are still intact. As indicated in
Section 3.8, field trials should be performed to demonstrate that placement procedures will
not damage the geotextile. If damage is observed, the engineer should be contacted, and the
contractor should be required to change the placement procedure. This procedure should be
in the construction specifications for every erosion control project.

For below-water placement or placement adjacent to structures requiring special installation


procedures, the inspector should discuss placement details with the engineer, and inspection
requirements and procedures should be worked out in advance of construction.

3.10 GEOCELLS

Geocells infilled with sand, gravel or concrete provide an alternative armor system for
permanent erosion protection. Geocells are three dimensional cellular structures provide
confinement and reinforcement to the infilled soils. Geocells are made from polyethylene
(low and high density) strips 3, 4, 6 or 8 in. (75, 100, 150 or 200 mm) wide that may be solid
or contain small holes. The strips are periodically interconnected to form expandable
rectangular or square panels up to 30 ft (9.1 m) on a side. The panels are flattened for easy
transport and then stretched out and expanded on site to form the cellular or “honeycomb”
structures. Depending on the climate and type of backfill, vegetation is sometimes

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established on the infilled geocell slopes. The type of infill selected depends on the
hydraulics, soil conditions, and aesthetics.

The various manufacturers can provide materials properties and physical characteristics of
geocells. As far as we know, there are no special design rules for geocell installations.
Conventional geotechnical analyses for slope stability, foundations, compaction, etc., are
appropriate, depending on the specific project requirements. For erosion protection systems,
the same hydraulic considerations mentioned earlier in this chapter apply.

Site preparation is similar to what is normally done for any geosynthetic installation. The
site is cleared and grubbed, tree stumps and boulders are removed, and the surface graded
and smoothed as required. The flattened geocell panels are carried to the site and expanded to
their full panel dimensions. The panels are periodically staked or pinned to the subgrade
slope every two to four cells as well as at the junctions between panels. Some manufactures
have a cable threaded through the each panel that helps to expand and secure them to the
subgrade. Depending on the slope angle and length, an anchor trench at the top of the slope
and along the edges of the protected area may be required. Benches on the slope are
sometimes necessary for stability and to simplify construction.

Placement of the infill material can be by hand, endloader, backhoe, crane-supported


clamshell bucket, or even a conveyor system. Infill materials are usually placed a few cm
above the top of the cells and appropriately compacted. Hydroseeding and mulching may
also be appropriate. Edges must be protected (eg., with toe trenches) to prevent loss of fill
due to erosion and undermining.

3.11 EROSION CONTROL MATS

Unpaved areas are susceptible to erosion by high-velocity flow. Where flow is intermittent, a
grass cover will provide protection against erosion. By reinforcing the grass cover, the
resulting “biocomposite” layer will enhance the erosion resistance. Geosynthetics used for
erosion control include turf reinforcement mats (TRMs) and extruded plastic mats. Both are
three-dimensional mats made of synthetic filaments, meshes, plastic sheets, or webbings that
serve to reinforce the vegetation root mass, provide tractive resistance to fairly high flows,
and reduce the impact of rainfall while enhancing the establishment of vegetation cover.
TRMs are non-biodegradable rolled erosion control products (RECPs). TRMs are a
reinforced grass system capable of withstanding short-term (e.g., 2 hours), high velocity
(e.g., 20 ft/s {6 m/s}) flows with minimal erosion.

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Erosion control blankets (ECBs) and other geosynthetics such as mulch control nets (MCNs)
are covered in Chapter 4. These are biodegradable RECPs used to enhance the establishment
of vegetation for temporary erosion control applications where vegetation alone can provide
sufficient erosion protection.

The principal applications of TRMs are in highway stormwater runoff ditches, auxiliary
spillways of retention dams, and protection of embankments and reinforced steep slopes
(Chapter 8) against erosion by heavy precipitation or flooding events. TRMs are used for
temporary (e.g., 2 hours), high-velocity flow areas, and is usually not suitable for long-term
high velocity flow applications suited for hard armor systems.

Any waterway lined with TRMs requires inspection and maintenance, and some of the
materials involved may be susceptible to damage, particularly by vandalism. If it is apparent
that these considerations are a problem, then reinforced grass should not be used. However,
the aesthetic advantage of a soft armor lining with a TRM often outweighs potential
disadvantages.

The performance of TRMs is determined by a complex interaction of hydraulic, geotechnical,


and botanical elements. At present, the physical processes and the engineering properties of
geotextiles and grass cannot be quantitatively described. Thus, the design approach is largely
empirical and involves a systematic consideration of each constituent element's behavior
under service conditions. Specific products have been tested in laboratory flume tests to
empirically quantify the tractive shear forces and velocities they can withstand as a function
of flow time.

This section provides only a summary of the design principles and construction procedures
for erosion control mats and TRMs. For detailed information on planning, design,
specifications, construction, on-going management, and support research on TRMs, see
Hewlett, et al. (1987).

Another sources of information on RECPs is the Erosion Control Technology Council


(ECTC). Their website (www.ectc.org) has downloadable documents, design tools, test
methods, case histories, and model specifications for RECPs, for both permanent and
temporary applications. ASTM also has some standard test methods for RECPs. The
Specifier's Guide published each December in the Geosynthetics magazine (formerly
Geotechnical Fabrics Report), published by the Industrial Fabrics Association contains
specific properties of TRMs provided by the manufacturers.

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One of the best sources of performance information is the Texas Department of
Transportation as performed by the Texas Transportation Institute Hydraulics, Sediment &
Erosion Control Laboratory. This agency tests candidate erosion control materials and
categorizes them into classes and types in an approved materials list. Information on the test
program and the results of tests on specific products are available on their web site:
http://www.dot.state.tx.us/services/maintenance/erosion_control.htm.

3.11-1 Summary of Planning, Design, and Installation


The planning stage involves assessing the feasibility of constructing a reinforced grass
system in a particular situation and establishing the basic design parameters. To be
considered, among other things, are design frequency and duration of flow, properties of
subsoil, climate, appearance, usage in no-flow conditions (e.g., agricultural, park, etc.), risk
of vandalism, cost of failure, access to site, method of construction, and capital and
maintenance costs..

The hydraulic design parameters are the velocity, shear stress, and duration of flow, as well
as the erosion resistance of various surface treatments. Figure 3-5 gives approximate
maximum design velocities and flow durations for various types of surfaces, from bare soils
through hard armor systems. For the hydraulics design, see HEC-15 (FHWA, 2005). Note
that the ECTC design procedures also depend on this reference.

The principal geotechnical consideration is the effect that water will have on the subsoil. This
includes seepage from adjacent slopes, rainfall, and flowing water that infiltrates the system.
The stability of slopes during normal or “dry” conditions as well as during and immediately
following flow should be investigated, and if necessary for increased stability provide
localized drainage to relieve excess pore pressures. Possible settlement of the subsoil should
also be estimated to see whether the armor layer is flexible enough to accommodate that
movement.

Botanical considerations include the type of grass that is appropriate for the soil conditions,
climate, and management requirements. Properties of the TRMs that are important for
stabilization and enhancement of vegetative growth include:
C the tensile strength (required for loading and survivability),
C strength after UV exposure (longevity),
C flexibility (helps maintain intimate contact with the subgrade – important for rapid
seedling emergence and minimizing soil loss), and
C construction of the mat (helps to stabilize the vegetation in the matrix).

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Figure 3-5. Recommended maximum design velocities and flow durations for erosion
resistance of various surface materials and treatment (after Hewlet et al., 1987 and
Theisen, 1992).

Other design issues include:

1. Anchorage details for the TRM, including type and length of anchorage pins or
stakes, spacing across and along the edges the mat, roll end anchorage, adjacent rolls
and downslope shingling, and anchorage at the top of the slope or embankment.
2. Avoiding unwanted erosion in the crest, channel, and toe areas as well as the
transitions between two or more plane surfaces.
3. Construction and installation details such as foundation preparation, transition to
adjacent structures, placement requirements, etc.

In areas of sensitive wildlife habitat, a TRM with a very small mesh (<3/16 in2{<5 mm2})
openings is recommended (Barton and Kinkead, 2005).

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Details for each of these requirements are in Hewlett, et al. (1987), on the Texas DOT
website, and on the ECTC website. Specific installation guidelines are usually available
from the manufacturers of TRMs.

3.11-2 Specification

The following example specification for erosion control mats is after the Texas Department
of Transportation (2004) specification for soil retention blankets (SRB). This agency tests
candidate erosion control materials and categorizes them into classes and types in an
approved materials list.
ITEM 169
SOIL RETENTION BLANKETS

169.1. Description. Provide and install soil retention blankets (SRB) as shown on the plans or as
directed.

169.2. Materials. Provide only SR-B that are on the approved list published in "Field Performance
of Erosion Control Products," available from the Maintenance Division. Use material of the
following class and type as shown on the plans and provide a copy of the manufacturer's label for the
selected product.

A. Class I - Slope Protection.


1. Type A. Slopes 3:1 or flatter - clay soils,
2. Type B. Slopes 3:1 or flatter - sandy soils,
3. Type C. Slopes steeper than 3:1 - clay soils, and
4. Type D. Slopes steeper than 3:1 - sandy soils.

B. Class 2 - Flexible Channel Liners.


1. Type E. Biodegradable materials with shear stress less than 1.0 lb. per square foot,
2. Type F. Biodegradable materials with shear stress 1.0 to 2.0 lb. per square foot,
3. Type G. Nonbiodegradable materials with shear stress 2.0 to 5.0 lb. per square foot, and
4. Type H. Nonbiodegradable materials with shear stress equal to or greater than 5.0 lb. per
square foot.

169.3. Construction. Place the SRB within 24 hr. after the seeding or sodding operations, or when
directed, in accordance with the "SRB Product Installation Sheet," available from the Maintenance
Division. Installation includes the repair of ruts, reseeding or resodding, and the removal of rocks,
clods, and other foreign materials which may prevent contact of the blanket with the soil.

169.4. Measurement. This Item will be measured by the square yard of surface area covered.

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169.5. Payment. The work performed and materials furnished in accordance with this Item and
measured as provided under "Measurement" will be paid for at the unit price bid for "Soil Retention
Blankets" of the class and type specified. This price is full compensation for equipment, materials,
labor, tools, and incidentals.

3.12 REFERENCES

AASHTO (2006). Standard Specifications for Geotextiles - M 288, Standard Specifications


for Transportation Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing, 25th Edition,
American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington, D.C.

AASHTO (2005). Model Drainage Manual, 3rd edition, American Association of State
Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C.

ASTM (2006). Annual Books of ASTM Standards, American Society for Testing and
Materials, West Conshohocken, PA:
Volume 4.08 (I), Soil and Rock
Volume 4.09 (II), Soil and Rock; Geosynthetics

ASTM Test Methods - see Appendix E.

Barton, C. and Kinkead, K. (2005). Do Erosion Control and Snakes Mesh, Journal of Soil
and Water Conservation, Vol. 60, No. 2, 32 pp.

Casagrande, A. (1938). “Notes on Soil Mechanics—First Semester”, Harvard University


(unpublished), 129 pp.

Cedergren, H.R. (1989). Seepage, Drainage, and Flow Nets, Third Edition, John Wiley and
Sons, New York, 465p.

Christopher, B.R. and Holtz, R.D. (1985). Geotextile Engineering Manual, FHWA-TS-
86/203, March, 1044 p.

Dunham, J.W. and Barrett, R.J. (1974). Woven Plastic Cloth Filters for Stone Seawalls,
Journal of the Waterways, Harbors, and Coastal Engineering Division, American Society
of Civil Engineers, New York, February.

FHWA (2006). Hydraulic Design of Energy Dissipators for Culvert and Channels,
Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 14, Federal Highway Administration, FHWA-NHI-
06-086.

FHWA (2005). Design of Roadside Channels with Flexible Linings, Hydraulic Engineering
Circular No. 15, Third Edition, Federal Highway Administration, FHWA-IF-05-114.

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FHWA (2001). Bridge Scour and Stream Instability Countermeasures, Experience,
Selection, and Design Guidance, Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 23, Second Edition,
Federal Highway Administration, Second Edition, FHWA NHI-01-003.

FHWA (2001). Evaluating Scour at Bridges, Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 18,
Fourth Edition, Federal Highway Administration, FHWA NHI-01-001.

FHWA (1989). Design of Riprap Revetment, Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 11,
Federal Highway Administration, FHWA-IP-89-016.

Hewlett, H.W.M., Boorman, L.A. and Bramley, M.E. (1987). Design of Reinforced Grass
Waterways — Report 116, Construction Industry Research and Information Association,
London, U.K., 116 p.

Holtz, R. D. and Kovacs, W. D. (1981). An Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering,


Prentice-Hall, p. 210.

Keown, M.P. and Dardeau, E.A., Jr. (1980), Utilization of Filter Fabric for Streambank
Protection Applications, TR HL-80-12, Hydraulics Laboratory, U.S. Army Engineer
Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS.

Texas Department of Transportation (2004). Standard Specifications for Construction and


Maintenance of Highways, Streets, and Bridges.

Theisen, M.S. (1992). Geosynthetics in Erosion Control and Sediment Control, Geotechnical
Fabrics Report, Industrial Fabrics Association International, St. Paul, MN, May/June pp.
26-35.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1977). Civil Works Construction Guide Specification for
Plastic Filter Fabric, Corps of Engineer Specifications No. CW-02215, Office, Chief of
Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.

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4.0 TEMPORARY RUNOFF AND SEDIMENT CONTROL

4.1 INTRODUCTION

Geotextiles, geosynthetic erosion control blankets (ECBs), and other biodegradable rolled
erosion control products (RECPs) such as mulch control nets (MCNs) and turf reinforcing
mats (TRMs) can be used to temporarily control and minimize erosion and sediment
transport during construction. Four specific application areas have been identified:

• Geotextile silt fences can be used as a


substitute for hay bales or brush piles to
remove suspended particles from
sediment-laden runoff water.

• Geotextiles can be used as a turbidity


curtain placed within a stream, lake, or
other body of water to retain suspended
particles and allow sedimentation to
occur.

• Special soil retention blankets, made of


both natural and synthetic grids, meshes,
nets, fibers, and webbings, can be used to
provide tractive resistance and resist
water velocity on slopes. These products
retain seeds and add a mulch effect to
promote the establishment of a vegetative
cover. Light-weight turf reinforcing mats
as described in Section 3.11 may also be
used.

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• Geotextiles held in place by pins, riprap,
or sandbags can be used to temporarily
control erosion in temporary diversion
ditches, culvert outfalls, embankment
slopes, etc. Alternatively, ECBs can be
used for temporary erosion control until
vegetation can be established in the
ditch.

The main advantages of using geotextile silt fences over conventional techniques in sediment
control applications include the following:
• The geotextile can be designed for the specific application, while conventional
techniques are basically trial-and-error.
• Geotextile silt fences in particular often prove to be very cost-effective, especially in
comparison to hay bales, considering ease of installation and material costs.
• Control of geosynthetics by material specifications is easier than for hay bales, the
traditional erosion control method.

For runoff control, geosynthetic ECBs are designed to help mitigate immediate erosion
problems and provide long-term stabilization by promoting the establishment of a vegetative
cover. The main advantages of using ECBs include the following:
• Vegetative systems have desirable aesthetics.
• Products are lightweight and easy to handle and install.
• Temporary, degradable products improve establishment of vegetation.
• Continuity of protection is generally better over the entire protected area.
• Empirically predictable performance; traditional techniques such as seeding, mulch
covers, and brush or hay bale barriers, are often less predictable and reliable.

The following sections review the function, design, selection, specification, and installation
procedure for geosynthetics used as silt fences, turbidity curtains, and erosion control
blankets. Design of geotextiles in temporary runoff control systems to control ditch erosion
is similar to Sec. 3.8. Additional information and training are available in the NHI course
entitled Design and Implementation of Erosion and Sediment Control (No. 142054) (see
www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov), developed in a joint effort between FHWA and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).

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4.2 FUNCTION OF SILT FENCES

In most applications, a geotextile silt fence is placed downslope from a construction site or
newly graded area to prevent or at least reduce sediment being transported by runoff to the
surrounding environment. Sometimes silt fences are used in permanent or temporary
diversion ditches and swales for the same purpose, although even with special designs, they
have had varying success.

A silt fence primarily functions as a temporary dam (Mallard and Bell, 1981). It retains
water long enough for suspended fine sand and coarse silt particles in the runoff to settle out
before they reach the fence. Generally, a retention time of 25 to 30 minutes is sufficient, so
flow through the geotextile must provide this retention time. Although smaller pore opening
sizes and lower permittivity of the geotextile will allow finer particles to settle out, some
water must be able to pass through the fence to prevent possible overtopping. Appropriate
applications of silt fences are along the site perimeter, below disturbed areas subject to sheet
and rill erosion and sheet flow, and below the toe of exposed and erodible slopes.

With a retention time of 25 to 30 minutes, not all the silt and clay in suspension will settle out
before reaching the fence. Therefore, water flowing through the fence will still contain some
suspended fines. Removal of fines by the geotextile creates a difficult filtration condition. If
the openings in the geotextile (i.e., AOS) are small enough to retain most of the suspended
fines, the geotextile will blind (Fig. 2.3) and its permeability will be reduced so that bursting
or overtopping of the fence could occur. Therefore, it is better to have some geotextile
openings large enough to allow fine silt and clay particles to easily pass through. Even if
some silt passes through the fence, the flow velocity will be small, and some fines may settle
out. If the application is critical, e.g., when the site is immediately adjacent to
environmentally sensitive wetlands or streams, multiple silt fences can be used. A second
fence with a smaller AOS is placed a short distance downslope of the first fence to capture
silt that passed through the first fence.

Wyant (1980) and Allen (1994) have found that the geotextile AOS and permittivity
properties are not directly related to silt fence performance. Their experience indicates that,
in general, most geotextiles have hydraulic characteristics that provide acceptable silt fence
performance for even the most erodible silts. Thus, geotextile selection and specification can
be based on typical properties of silt fence geotextiles known to have performed satisfactorily
in the past.

Because silt fences are only used for temporary erosion control, the fence only needs to work
until the site can be revegetated or otherwise protected from rainfall and erosion. According

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to Richardson and Middlebrooks (1991), silt fences are best applied in situations where sheet
erosion occurs and where flow is not concentrated. Flow velocity should be less than about 1
ft/s (0.3 m/s). Slope grading or check dams may be required to reduce the flow.
Recommendations for allowable slope length versus slope angle to limit runoff velocity are
presented in Table 4-1. Furthermore, the limiting slope angle and velocity requirements
suggest that the drainage areas for overland flow to a fence should be less than about 5 acres
per 100 ft 1 (ha per 30 m) of fence.

Table 4-1
Limits of Slope Steepness and Length
to Limit Runoff Velocity to 1 ft/s (0.3 m/s)
(after Richardson and Middlebrooks, 1991)

Maximum Slope
Slope Steepness Length
(%)
(ft) (m)
<2 100 30
2–5 80 25
5 – 10 50 15
10 – 20 30 10
> 20 15 5

4.3 DESIGN OF SILT FENCES

There are two approaches to the design of silt fences. In the first, geotextile selection is
based on the hydraulic properties (i.e., AOS and permittivity) of the geotextile based on
previous experience with successful silt fence installations.

The second design approach is to conduct a performance test that basically is a model test of
a silt fence. The recommended test is ASTM D 5141 (Determining Filtering Efficiency and
Flow Rate of a Geotextile for Silt Fence Applications Using Site-Specific Soil). This test uses
representative samples of soils from the site and candidate geotextiles.

For each approach, designers need to estimate both the runoff volume due to a certain rainfall
intensity and the volume of sediment likely to be generated from the site. The silt fence must
be able to retain both these volumes. Finally, the physical and mechanical properties of the
geotextile must also be appropriately considered.

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4.3-1 Estimates of Runoff and Sediment Volumes

STEP 1. Estimate runoff volume.

Use any reasonable approach to estimate the runoff volume. The Rational Method for
small watershed areas is one approach:

Q = 2.8 x 10-3 C i A [4 - 1]
where:
Q = runoff (m3/s)
C = surface runoff coefficient
i = rainfall intensity (mm/hr)
A = area (ha)

Use C = 0.2 for rough surfaces, and C = 0.6 for smooth surfaces. A 10-year storm
event is typically used for designing silt fences.

Use the appropriate rainfall intensity factor, i, for the locality. Assume a 10-year
design storm, or use local design regulations. Neglect any concentration times (worst
case). This calculation gives the total storage volume required of the silt fence.

STEP 2. Estimate sediment volume.

Probably the best way to estimate the volume of sediment generated is to use some
version of the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE). This was done for silt fences by
Richardson and Middlebrooks (1991). In the meantime, the USLE procedure has
been considerably revised and updated by the National Resource Conservation
Service (NRCS—formerly the Soil Conservation Service) and the Agricultural
Research Service of the USDA. Its current version is called the Revised Universal
Soil Loss Equation, Version 2 (RUSLE2), and put on line. The official NRCS version
of RUSLE2 can be found at
http://fargo.nserl.purdue.edu/rusle2_dataweb/RUSLE2_Index.htm

For details, definitions, documentation and publications, tutorials, etc., go to


http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=6010

The RUSLE2 predicts an erosion rate in terms of tons of sediment produced per acre
(hectare) for a typical design period. This should provide a reasonable estimate for

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sizing the storage volume behind the silt fence. As the sediments have a very high
water content and a low density, assume a density of about 50 lb/ft3 (800 kg/m3) to
convert the soil loss in metric tons to a volume. Sediment behind a silt fence should
be removed when accumulation reaches approximately one-third to one-half fence
height, and this height should be used for estimating the storage volume required.

The next step is the hydraulic design of the geotextile, and as mentioned above, there are two
approaches to this design. The first is based on the hydraulic properties (i.e., AOS and
permittivity) of geotextiles known to perform satisfactorily. The second approach is to
conduct a performance test to estimate filtration efficiency for specific site conditions. The
next section describes both approaches.

4.3-2 STEP 3 – Hydraulic Design of the Geotextile

1. Nominal AOS and Permittivity Values

Because site specific designs for retention and permittivity are not necessary
for most soils (at least in a practical sense), nominal AOS and permittivity
values for geotextiles known to perform satisfactorily as silt fences may be
used. Suggested values (Richardson and Middlebrooks, 1991) are:
0.15 mm < AOS < 0.60 mm for woven slit films
0.15 mm < AOS < 0.30 mm for all other geotextiles
Permittivity, R > 0.02 sec-1

2. Using Performance Test – ASTM D 5141

This test was developed by Wyant (1980) for the Virginia Highway and
Transportation Research Council (VHTRC) and is based on observed field
performance and laboratory testing. See ASTM D 5141 for details. The
laboratory test is, in effect, a model test that consists of a flume with an
outflow opening similar to the size of a hay bale and fixed at a slope of 8%.
The geotextile is strapped across the end of the flume. A representative soil
sample from the site is then suspended in water to a concentration of about
3000 ppm (equivalent water content is 0.3 percent) and poured into the flume.
Based on their performance, appropriate geotextiles can be selected to provide
filtering efficiencies of 75% or more and flow rates on the order of 0.1
l/min/m2 after three test repetitions representing three storm events.

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The model study approach evaluates the system by utilizing actual soils from
the local area of interest. Thus, it cannot be performed by manufacturers. The
approach lends itself to an approved list-type specification for silt fences. In
this case, the agency or its representatives perform the flume test using their
particular problem soils and prequalifies the geotextiles that meet filtering
efficiency and flow criteria requirements. Qualifying geotextiles can be
placed on an approved list that is then provided to contractors. Geotextiles on
any approved list should be periodically retested because manufacturing
changes often occur.

4.3-3 STEP 4 – Physical and Mechanical Properties; Constructability Requirements

The geotextile must be strong enough to support the pooled water and the sediments
collected behind the fence. Minimum strength depends on height of impoundment
and spacing between fence posts. A silt fence geotextile must be strong enough to
enable it to be properly installed.

Use Figure 4-1 to determine required tensile strength for a range of impoundment
heights and post spacings. For geotextiles without wire or plastic mesh backing, limit
impoundment heights to (2 ft) 0.6 m and post spacing to 6.6 ft (2 m); for greater
heights and spacings, use steel or plastic grid/mesh reinforcement to prevent burst
failure of geotextile. Unsupported geotextiles must not collapse or deform, allowing
silt-laden water to overtop the fence. Use Figure 4-2 to design the fence posts.

Figure 4-1. Geotextile strength versus post spacing (Richardson and Koerner, 1990).
1 m = 3.3 ft.

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Figure 4-2. Post requirements versus post spacing (Richardson and Koerner, 1990).
1 m = 3.3 ft.

AASHTO M288 property recommendations are indicated in Table 4-2. Realize that these
specifications are not based on research but on properties of geotextiles that have performed
satisfactorily as silt fences. Also given are requirements for resistance to ultraviolet
degradation. Although the applications are temporary (e.g., 6 to 36 months), the geotextile
must have sufficient UV resistance to function throughout its anticipated design life.

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Table 4-2
Physical Requirements1,2,3
for Temporary Silt Fence Geotextiles
(AASHTO, 2006)
Requirement
Unsupported Silt Fence
ASTM Supported Geotextile Geotextile
Test Units Silt Fencea Elongation Elongation
Method $ 50%b < 50%b
Maximum Post Spacing 1.2 m 1.2 m 2m
Grab Strength
Machine Direction D 4632 N 400 550 550
X-Machine Direction 400 450 450
Permittivityc D 4491 sec-1 0.05 0.05 0.05
Apparent Opening Size D 4751 mm 0.60 max. 0.60 max. 0.60 max.
Ultraviolet Stability 70% after 500 hours 70% after 500 hours
D 4355 %
(Retained Strength) of exposure of exposure

a Silt fence support shall consist of 14-gage steel wire mesh spacing of 150 mm by 150 mm or prefabricated
polymeric mesh of equivalent strength.
b As measured in accordance with ASTM D 4632.
c These default filtration property values are based on empirical evidence with a variety of sediments. For
environmentally sensitive areas, a review of previous experience and/or site or regionally specific
geotextile tests should be performed by the agency to confirm suitability of these requirements.

NOTES:
1. Acceptance of geotextile material shall be based on ASTM D 4759.
2. Acceptance shall be based upon testing of either conformance samples obtained using Procedure A of
ASTM D 4354, or based on manufacturer’s certifications and testing of quality assurance samples obtained
using Procedure B of ASTM D 4354.
3. All numeric values except AOS represent minimum average roll value (i.e., test results from any sampled
roll in a lot shall meet or exceed the minimum values in the table). Lot samples according to ASTM D
4354.

Conversion: 1 m = 3.3 ft. 1 N = 0.225 lbf 25.4 mm = 1 in.

4.4 SPECIFICATIONS

The following Washington State Department of Transportation specification is included


herein for your reference. It is meant to serve as an example for specifying geotextile silt
fence for routine (less critical) projects. It is not intended to replace site-specific evaluation,
testing, and design. Note that today the WSDOT has included specifications for silt fences
along with other geosynthetics materials in their Standard Specifications for Road, Bridge,
and Municipal Construction, N 41-06, 2006. For convenience, we will keep this sample
specification as a separate entity to indicate all the individual items that should be a silt fence
specification.

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CONSTRUCTION GEOTEXTILE FOR SILT FENCE
(after Washington State Department Of Transportation, 2006)

Materials

Geotextiles shall consist only of long chain polymeric fibers or yarns formed into a stable
network such that the fibers or yarns retain their position relative to each other during
handling, placement, and design service life. At least 95 percent by weight of the material
shall be polyolefins or polyesters. The material shall be free from defects or tears. The
geotextile shall also be free of any treatment or coating which might adversely alter its
hydraulic or physical properties after installation.

The geotextile shall conform to the properties as indicated in Table A, and additional tables
as required in the Standard Plans and Special Provisions for each use specified in the Plans.

Thread used for sewing geotextiles shall consist of high strength polypropylene, polyester, or
polyamide. Nylon threads will not be allowed. The thread used to sew permanent erosion
control geotextiles shall also be resistant to ultraviolet radiation. The thread shall be of
contrasting color to that of the geotextile itself.

Table A: Geotextile Property Requirements1


for Temporary Silt Fence
ASTM Geotextile Property Requirements1
Geotextile Property Test Supported Between Posts with
Method Unsupported Between Posts
Wire or Polymeric Mesh
AOS D 4751 #30 US sieve (0.60 mm) max. #30 US sieve (0.60 mm) max.
for slit film wovens for slit film wovens
#50 US sieve (0.30 mm) max. #50 US sieve (0.30 mm) max.
for all other geotextile types for all other geotextile types
#100 US sieve (0.15 mm) min. #100 US sieve (0.15 mm) min.

Water Permittivity D 4491 0.02 sec-1 min. 0.02 sec-1 min.

Grab Tensile D 4632 180 lbs. min. in machine direction, 100 lbs. min.
Strength, in machine 100 lbs. min. in x-machine direction
and x-machine
direction

Grab Failure Strain, in D 4632 30% max. at 180 lbs or more ---
machine and x-
machine direction

Ultraviolet (UV) D 4355 70% Strength Retained min., after 70% Strength Retained min., after
Radiation Stability 500 hr in weatherometer 500 hr in weatherometer

NOTE:
1. All geotextile properties in Table A are minimum average roll values (i.e., the test result for any sampled roll
in a lot shall meet or exceed the values shown in the table).

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Geotextile Approval and Acceptance
Source Approval
The Contractor shall submit to the Engineer the following information regarding each geotextile
proposed for use:
• Manufacturer's name and current address,
• Full product name,
• Geotextile structure, including fiber/yarn type,
• Geosynthetic polymer type(s), and
• Proposed geotextile use(s).
If the geotextile source has not been previously evaluated, or is not listed in the current WSDOT
Qualified Products List (QPL), a sample of each proposed geotextile shall be submitted to the State
Materials Laboratory in Tumwater for evaluation. After the sample and required information for each
geotextile type have arrived at the State Materials Laboratory in Tumwater, a maximum of 14
calendar days will be required for this testing. Source approval will be based on conformance to the
applicable values from Table A and additional tables as specified in the Special Provisions. Source
approval shall not be the basis of acceptance of specific lots of material unless the lot sampled can be
clearly identified and the number of samples tested and approved meet the requirements of WSDOT
Test Method 914.

Acceptance Samples
Samples will be randomly taken by the Engineer at the job site to confirm that the geotextile meets
the property values specified.

Approval will be based on testing of samples from each lot. A "lot" shall be defined for the purposes
of this specification as all geotextile rolls within the consignment (i.e., all rolls sent to the project site)
that were produced by the same manufacturer during a continuous period of production at the same
manufacturing plant and have the same product name. After the samples have arrived at the State
Materials Laboratory in Tumwater, a maximum of 14 calendar days will be required for this testing.
If the results of the testing show that a geotextile lot, as defined, does not meet the properties required
for the specified use as indicated in Table A and additional tables as specified in the Special
Provisions, the roll or rolls which were sampled will be rejected. Two additional rolls for each roll
tested which failed from the lot previously tested will then be selected at random by the Engineer for
sampling and retesting. If the retesting shows that any of the additional rolls tested do not meet the
required properties, the entire lot will be rejected. If the test results from all the rolls retested meet the
required properties, the entire lot minus the roll(s) that failed will be accepted. All geotextile that has
defects, deterioration, or damage, as determined by the Engineer, will also be rejected. All rejected
geotextile shall be replaced at no cost to the Contracting Agency.

Acceptance by Certificate of Compliance


When the quantities of geotextile proposed for use in each geotextile application are less than or equal
to the following amounts, acceptance shall be by Manufacturer’s Certificate of Compliance:
Application: Temporary Silt Fence Geotextile Quantities: All quantities

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The manufacturer's certificate of compliance shall include the following information about each
geotextile roll to be used:
Manufacturer's name and current address,
Full product name,
Geotextile structure, including fiber/yarn type,
Polymer type,
Geotextile roll number,
Proposed geotextile use(s), and
Certified test results.

Approval of Seams
If the geotextile seams are to be sewn in the field, the Contractor shall provide a section of sewn seam
that can be sampled by the Engineer before the geotextile is installed.

The seam sewn for sampling shall be sewn using the same equipment and procedures as will be used
to sew the production seams. If production seams will be sewn in both the machine and cross-
machine directions, the Contractor must provide sewn seams for sampling which are oriented in both
the machine and cross-machine directions. The seams sewn for sampling must be at least 2 yards in
length in each geotextile direction. If the seams are sewn in the factory, the Engineer will obtain
samples of the factory seam at random from any of the rolls to be used. The seam assembly
description shall be submitted by the Contractor to the Engineer and will be included with the seam
sample obtained for testing. This description shall include the seam type, stitch type, sewing thread
type(s), and stitch density.

Construction Geotextile (Installation Requirements)

Silt fence shall be installed in accordance with the Plans.

When backup support is used, steel wire shall have a maximum mesh spacing of 2-inches by 4-
inches. and the plastic mesh shall be as resistant to ultraviolet radiation as the geotextile it supports.

The geotextile shall be attached to the posts and support system using staples, wire, or in accordance
with the manufacturer's recommendations.

The geotextile shall be sewn together at the point of manufacture, or at a location approved by the
Engineer, to form geotextile lengths as required. All sewn seams and overlaps shall be located at a
support post.

Posts shall be either wood or steel. Wood posts shall have minimum dimensions of 1¼-inches by 1¼-
inches by the minimum length shown in the Plans. Steel posts shall have a minimum weight of 0.90
lbs/ft.

When sediment deposits reach approximately one-third the height of the silt fence, the deposits shall
be removed and stabilized.

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4.5 INSTALLATION PROCEDURES

Silt fences are quite simple to construct; the normal construction sequence is shown in Figure
4-3. Installation of a prefabricated silt fence is shown is Figure 4-4.

1. Install wooden or steel fence posts or large wooden stakes in a row, with
normal spacing between 1.5 to 10 ft (0.5 to 3 m), center to center, and to a
depth of 15 to 18 in. (0.4 to 0.6 m). Most pre-fabricated fences have posts
spaced approximately 6 to 10 ft (2 to 3 m) apart, which is usually adequate
(Step 1).
2. Construct a small (minimum 6 in. (150 mm) deep and 4 in. (100 mm) wide)
trench on the upstream side of the silt fence (Step 2).
3. Attach reinforcing wire, if required, to the posts (Step 3).
4. If a prefabricated silt fence is not being used, the geotextile must be attached
to the posts using staples, reinforcing wire, or other attachments provided by
the manufacturer. Geotextile should be extended at least 6 in. (150 mm)
below the ground surface (Steps 4 and 5).
5. Bury the lower end of the geotextile in the upstream trench and backfill with
natural material, tamping the backfill to provide good anchorage (Step 6).

Silt fence ends should be turned uphill to ensure they capture runoff water and prevent flow
around the ends. The groundline at the fence ends should be at or above the elevation of the
lowest portion of the fence top. Measures should be taken to prevent erosion along the fence
backs that run downhill for a significant distance. Gravel check dams at approximately 6 to
10 ft. (2 to 3 m) intervals along the back of the fence can be used.

The field inspector should review the field inspection guidelines in Section 1.7.

4.6 INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE

Silt fences should be checked periodically, especially after a rainfall or storm event.
Excessive buildup of sediment must be removed so the silt fence can function properly.
Generally, sediment buildup behind the fence should be removed when it reaches ⅓ to ½ of
the fence height. Repair or replace any split, torn, slumping or weathered geotextile. The toe
trench should also be checked to ensure that runoff is not piping under the fence.

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Figure 4-3. Typical silt fence installation.

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Figure 4-4. Installation of a prefabricated silt fence . 1 m = 3.3 ft.

4.7 SILT AND TURBIDITY CURTAINS

At construction sites adjacent to open water, silt and turbidity curtains may be necessary to
prevent sediment from entering the lake, stream, or river. The curtain is suspended from
floats at the water’s surface and weighted down at the bottom, and then stretched across the
stream or in a semicircle around the end of the site. A tension cable is often built into the
curtain immediately above or below the flotation segments to absorb stress imposed by
currents, wave action, and wind. Often the curtains are fabricated on-shore, then deployed
from boats or barges, and in deep water, divers may be necessary to attach the bottom of the
curtain to concrete blocks or other weights. In shallow water, curtains can be constructed
similar to on-shore silt fences. Geotextiles have also been attached to soldier piles and
draped across riprap barriers as semi-permanent curtains, and in side sheet-pile cofferdams to
retain and fines in the backfill.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1977) indicates that silt and turbidity curtains are not
appropriate for:
● operations in open ocean;
● operations in currents exceeding 0.5 m/s (1.6 ft/s);
● in areas frequently exposed to high winds and large breaking waves;
● use near hopper or cutter head dredges where frequent curtain movement
would be necessary.

Silt and turbidity curtains perform essentially the same function in water as silt fences do on
land; that is, they intercept sediment-laden water while allowing clear water to pass. Thus,
for maximum efficiency, a silt or turbidity curtain should pass a maximum amount of water
while retaining a maximum amount of sediment. Unfortunately, such optimum performance
is normally not possible because sediments will eventually blind or clog (Figure 2-3) the
geotextile. To maximize the geotextile's efficiency, the following soil, site, and
environmental conditions should be established, and the geotextile selected should provide a
specific filtering efficiency while maintaining the required flow rate (Bell and Hicks, 1980).
1. Determine the grain size distribution of soil to be filtered.
2. Estimate the soil volume to be filtered during construction.
3. Estimate the flow conditions, anticipated runoff, and water level fluctuations.
4. Consider the environmental conditions, temperature, and duration of sunlight
exposure.
5. Determine the velocity, direction, and quantity of discharge water.
6. Determine water depth, levels of turbidity, bottom sediments, and vegetation
at the site.
7. Determine wind conditions.

On the basis of these considerations, the geotextile can then be selected either according to
the properties required to maximize particle retention and flow capacity while resisting
clogging, or by performing filtration model studies such as ASTM D 5141. The first
approach follows the criteria developed in Chapter 2 for drainage systems. Silt and turbidity
curtains are generally concerned with fine-grained soils; therefore, the following criteria
could be considered when selecting the geotextile.

A. Retention Criteria

AOS = D85 for woven geotextiles.


AOS = 1.8 × D85 for nonwovens.

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NOTE: The D85 is a characteristic large-grain size appropriate to the suspended
sediment grain size distribution. It will be strongly influenced by items Nos.
1, 3, 5, and 6 above.

B. Flow Capacity Criterion

ψ = (10 q ) ÷ A (per 1 foot unit head)


where:
ψ = permittivity of geotextile (sec-1)
q = flow rate (ft3/sec)
A = cross-sectional area silt curtain (ft2)
10 = factor of safety

C. Clogging Resistance

Maximize AOS requirements using largest opening possible from criterion A


above.

Both woven and nonwoven geotextiles have been used for silt curtains, but experience has
shown that slit-film and monofilament wovens, because of their slick surface texture, tend to
be easier to maintain. They are also less susceptible to possible biological clogging.

For silt and turbidity curtain construction, the geotextile forming the curtain is held vertical
by flotation segments at the top and ballast along the bottom (Bell and Hicks, 1980). A
tension cable is often built into the curtain immediately above or below the flotation
segments to absorb stress imposed by currents, wave action, and wind. Barrier sections are
usually about 100 ft (30 m) long, with the width determined by the water depth. The sections
are seamed appropriately for the full length of the curtain. They can be made to any
reasonable width, depending on the water depth. Curtains can also be constructed within
shallow bodies of water using silt fence-type construction methods. Geotextiles have also
been attached to soldier piles and draped across riprap barriers as semi-permanent curtains.
Fabrication and installation of silt and turbidity curtains in deeper water or at complicated
sites are often done by specialized contractors.

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4.8 EROSION CONTROL BLANKETS

In freshly graded areas that are not to be immediately paved or covered, the soils are
susceptible to erosion by rainfall and runoff. Hydraulic seeding and mulching techniques as
well as biodegradable erosion control blankets and other similar products can be used to
enhance the establishment of vegetation after construction is completed. Erosion protection
must be provided for three distinct phases, namely:
1. prior to vegetation growth
2. during vegetation growth
3. after vegetation is fully established

Erosion control blankets provide protection during the first two phases. After vegetation is
established, and if further protection is necessary, TRMs that reinforce the vegetation root
mass are necessary. Permanent erosion control with TRMs was discussed in Sec. 3.11.

Erosion control blankets (ECBs) belong to a class of geosynthetics called rolled erosion
control products (RECPs), which are three-dimensional porous geosynthetic mats that
reinforce the roots and promote vegetation growth. These products together with vegetation
form an attractive and environmentally friendly “biocomposite”. Biodegradable RECPs are
used to enhance the establishment of vegetation for temporary erosion control applications
and where vegetation alone provides sufficient erosion protection after the temporary
products degrade. Also included in these biodegradable geosynthetic are mulch control nets
(MCNs) and open weave textiles (OWTs).

MCNs are manufactured of light-weight polymer net(s), typically polypropylene, and a


bedding or matrix of degradable organic materials such as aspen excelsior, straw, or coir
(coconut fibers). The matrix material protects the soil against erosion and helps retain
moisture, seeds, and soil to promote vegetation growth. These polymer materials are
typically not stabilized against ultraviolet light, and are designed to degrade over time.
Erosion control blankets have design lives that vary between approximately 6 months to 5
years. Some blankets are provided with grass seeds encased in paper, and some
biodegradable products may provide additional nutrients to the soil.

Erosion control blankets provide protection against moderate-flow velocities for short
periods of time. They are typically used on moderate slopes and low velocity intermittent
flow channels. Flows up to 5 ft/s (1.5 m/s) and durations of 0.5 to approximately 5 hr can be
withstood, as illustrated in Figure 4-5.

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Figure 4-5. Recommended maximum design velocities and flow durations for various
classes of erosion control materials (after Hewlett et al., 1987 and Theisen, 1992).

ECBs are usually evaluated by field trial sections, although there are very few published
records of comparative use. Therefore selection is usually based on local experience. Users
should be aware that a variety of products and systems exist, and as an aid to selecting the
best system, consult manufacturers and other agencies about their experiences. For example,
some ECB manufacturers have actual flume test data and design recommendations for their
specific products. One of the best sources of performance information is the Texas
Department of Transportation as performed by the Texas Transportation Institute Hydraulics,
Sediment & Erosion Control Laboratory. This agency tests candidate erosion control
materials and categorizes them into classes and types in an approved materials list.
Information on the test program and the results of tests on specific products are available on
their web site: http://www.dot.state.tx.us/services/maintenance/erosion_control.htm. The
Erosion Control Technology Council (ECTC) is also a good source of information on ECBs.

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Since the design of erosion control blankets is empirical, specification by index properties is
not easily accomplished. Also, most current ASTM standards for RECPs are for TRMs, and
relatively few test methods have been standardized for erosion control blankets, although the
ECTC has developed some suggested test procedures that can be used for ECBs. Therefore,
it is recommended that specifications use an approved products list.

Construction plans and specifications should detail and note installation requirements.
Details such as anchoring in trenches, use of pins, pin length, pin spacing, roll overlap
requirements, and roll termination should be addressed.

Specifications for RECPs and TRMs can be found on the Texas DOT website or the Erosion
Control Technology Council’s website: www.ectc.org/specifications.asp

4.9 REFERENCES

AASHTO (2006). Standard Specifications for Geotextiles - M 288, Standard Specifications


for Transportation Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing, 25th Edition,
American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington,
D.C.

Allen, T. (1994). Personal Communication.

ASTM (2006). Annual Books of ASTM Standards, American Society for Testing and
Materials, West Conshohocken, PA:
Volume 4.08 (I), Soil and Rock
Volume 4.09 (II), Soil and Rock; Geosynthetics

ASTM Test Methods - see Appendix E.

Bell, J.R. and Hicks, R.G. (1980). Evaluation of Test Methods and Use Criteria for
Geotechnical Fabrics in Highway Applications - Interim Report, Report No.
FHWA/RD-80/021, June, 190 p.

Hewlett, H.W.M., Boorman, L.A. and Bramley, M.E. (1987). Design of Reinforced Grass
Waterways — Report 116, Construction Industry Research and Information
Association, London, U.K., 116 p.

Mallard, P. and Bell, J.R. (1981). Use of Fabrics in Erosion Control, Transportation
Research Report 81-4, FHWA, January.

Richardson, G.N. and Middlebrooks, P. (1991). A Simplified Design Method for Silt Fences,
Proceedings of the Geosynthetics '91 Conference, Industrial Fabrics Association
International, St. Paul, MN, pp. 879-888.

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Richardson, G.N. and Koerner, R.M., Editors (1990). A Design Primer: Geotextiles and
Related Materials, Industrial Fabrics Association International, St. Paul, MN, 166 p.

Theisen, M.S. (1992). Geosynthetics in Erosion Control and Sediment Control, Geotechnical
Fabrics Report, Industrial Fabrics Association International, St. Paul, MN, May/June
pp. 26-35.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1977). Civil Works Construction Guide Specification for
Plastic Filter Fabric, Corps of Engineers Specifications No. CW-02215, Office,
Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.

Washington State Department Of Transportation (2006). Construction Geotextile For Silt


Fence, Standard Specifications for Road, Bridge, and Municipal Construction, N 41-
06.

Wyant, D.C. (1980). Evaluation of Filter Fabrics for Use as Silt Fences, Report No.
VHTRC 80-R49, Virginia Highway and Transportation Research Council,
Charlottesville, VA.

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5.0 GEOSYNTHETICS IN ROADWAYS AND PAVEMENTS

5.1 INTRODUCTION

Geosynthetics have been found to provide significant improvement in pavement construction


and performance. Figure 1 illustrates a number of potential geosynthetic applications in a
layered pavement system to improve its performance. The most common of all uses of
geosynthetics is in road and pavement construction. Geotextiles placed at the subgrade
increase stability and improve performance of pavement constructed on high fines subgrade
soils (i.e., soils containing high quantities of silt and/or clay factions) during construction,
primarily by separating the aggregate from the subgrade. In addition, geogrids and some
geotextiles can provide strength through friction or interlock developed between the
aggregate and the geosynthetic. Geotextiles can also provide filtration and drainage by
allowing excess pore water pressures in wet subgrade soils to dissipate into the aggregate
base course and, in cases of poor-quality aggregate, through the geotextile plane itself. The
separation, filtration and reinforcement functions combine to provide a method of mechanical
stabilization for weak subgrade soils.

Geosynthetics can also provide long-term benefits and improve the performance of the road
over its design life. Geotextiles used as separators over high fines subgrades prevent the
migration of fines into base/subbase materials, especially into open graded bases,
maintaining the support and drainage characteristics of the base over the life of a pavement
system. As discussed in Chapter 2, geotextile filters and geocomposite drains are key
components in pavement drainage systems. Adequate drainage can directly provide
improvement in long-term flexible and rigid pavement performance (AASHTO, 1986;
NCHRP 137-A, 2002; NHI 131026 Participants Notebook {ERES, 1999}; and, FHWA
NHI-05-037 {Christopher et al., 2006}). Geogrids and geotextiles can also be used to
reinforce the base course of flexible pavement to improve its serviceability.

In this chapter, each of the geosynthetic functions will be discussed and related to design
concepts and performance properties. The advantages, limitations and potential cost benefits
of using geosynthetics in each of these application areas will be reviewed. Selection,
specification, and construction procedures will also be presented. As shown in Figure 1,
there is also a potential to improve the pavement performance by incorporating geosynthetics
into the design of surficial asphalt layers. These applications will be covered in Chapter 6.

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Figure 5-1. Potential applications of geosynthetics in a layered pavement system

5.2 APPLICABILTY AND BENEFITS OF GEOSYNTHETICS IN ROADWAYS

Roads and highways are broadly classified into two categories: permanent and temporary,
depending on their service life, traffic applications, or desired performance. Permanent roads
include both paved and unpaved systems which usually remain in service 10 years or more.
Permanent roads may be subjected to more than a million load applications during their
design lives. On the other hand, temporary roads are, in most cases, unpaved. They remain
in service for only short periods of time (often less than 1 year), and are usually subjected to
fewer than 10,000 load applications during their services lives. Temporary roads include
detours, haul and access roads, construction platforms, and stabilized working tables required
for the construction of permanent roads, as well as embankments over soft foundations.

5.2-1 Temporary Roads and Working Platforms


Geosynthetics are used in temporary roads to reduce rutting of the gravel surface and/or to
decrease the amount of gravel required to support the anticipated traffic. Furthermore, the
geosynthetic helps to maintain the aggregate thickness over the life of the temporary road.

Where the soils are normally too weak to support the initial construction work, geosynthetics
in combination with gravel provide a working platform to allow construction equipment
access to sites. This is one of the more important uses of geosynthetics. Even if the finished
roadway can be supported by the subgrade, it may be virtually impossible to begin
construction of the embankment or roadway. Such sites require stabilization by dewatering,
demucking, excavation and replacement with select granular materials, utilization of
stabilization aggregate, chemical stabilization, etc. Geosynthetics can often be a cost-
effective alternate to these expensive foundation treatment procedures.

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5.2-2 Permanent Paved and Unpaved Roads
For permanent road construction, the temporary working platform described in the previous
section also may be used to provide an improved roadbed. This mechanically stabilized layer
enables contractors to meet minimum compaction specifications for the first two or three
aggregate lifts. This is especially true on very soft, wet subgrades, where the use of ordinary
compaction equipment is very difficult or even impossible. Long term, a geosynthetic acts to
maintain the roadway design section and the base course material integrity. Thus, the
geosynthetic will ultimately increase the life of the roadway.

As previously indicated, geotextiles can be placed beneath free draining (i.e., open graded)
base as a separator/filter to maintain drainage and improve pavement performance over the
life of both paved and unpaved roadways. The use of free draining base is encouraged for
optimum performance of pavement systems. However, where free draining base is not used,
not readily available and/or relatively expensive, geosynthetics with lateral drainage
capability (transmission function) may be placed at the subgrade-base interface to: (i)
provide drainage of the subgrade when a poorly draining, dense graded base course is used;
and/or (ii) to promote quicker drainage of the base course. For the first case of poorly
draining bases, where water in a wet subgrade cannot readily drain upward into the base,
geosynthetics that allow some drainage in its plane (i.e., thick nonwoven geotextiles or
geocomposites) would also allow for pore water pressure dissipation. For the second case,
drainage geocomposites with sufficient compressive strength to support traffic without
excessive deformation and with adequate flow capacity can be used to enhance drainage of
the roadway system. Improved drainage applications are reviewed in the permanent roadway
application section of this chapter (Section 5.6-4).

Another geosynthetic application in roadways is to place geosynthetics (primarily geogrids


and geocomposites) at the bottom of or within the base course to provide reinforcement
through lateral confinement of the aggregate layer. Lateral confinement arises from the
development of interface shear stresses between the aggregate and the reinforcement and
occurs during placement, compaction, and traffic loading. A small residual restraint remains
after each load application, thus increasing the lateral confinement of the aggregate with
increasing load applications. Base reinforcement thus improves the long-term structural
support for the base materials and reduces permanent deformation in the roadway section and
has been found under certain conditions to provide significant improvement in pavement
performance. Increases in traffic volume up to a factor of 10 to reach the same distress level
(1 in. {25-mm} rutting) have been observed for reinforced sections versus unreinforced
sections of the same design asphalt and base thickness (Berg et al., 2000). This application is
reviewed later in the permanent roadway application section of this chapter (Section 5.7).

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5.2-3 Subgrade Conditions in which Geosynthetics are Useful
Geosynthetics have a 30+ year history of successful use for the stabilization of very soft wet
subgrades. Based on experience and several case histories summarized by Haliburton,
Lawmaster, and McGuffey (1981) and Christopher and Holtz (1985), the following subgrade
conditions are considered optimum for using geosynthetics in roadway construction:
• Poor soils
(USCS: SC, CL, CH, ML, MH, OL, OH, and PT)
(AASHTO: A-5, A-6, A-7-5, and A-7-6)
• Low undrained shear strength
τf = cu < 2000 psf (90 kPa)
CBR < 3 (Note: Soaked Saturated CBR as determined with ASTM D 4429)
R-value (California) ≈ < 20
MR ≈ < 4500 psi (30 MPa)
• High water table
• High sensitivity

Under these conditions, multiple functions are possible. Geosynthetics function as


separators to prevent intermixing of roadway aggregate and the subgrade. Filtration is
required because soils below a CBR of 3 are typically wet and saturated. This water must be
allowed to pass up through the geosynthetic into the aggregate, such that destabilizing pore
pressure in the subgrade generated from wheel loads can rapidly dissipate. Pore pressure
dissipation will also allow for strength gains in the subgrade over time. Some level of
reinforcement may also be provided through lateral restraint of the roadway aggregate placed
directly above the geosynthetic, which in turn reduces the stresses on the subgrade and
improves bearing capacity. If large ruts develop during placement of the first aggregate lift,
then some membrane reinforcing effect is also present.

As the geosynthetic provides multiple functions, which both benefit construction and allow
for subgrade improvement with time, AASHTO M288 has identified applications where the
undrained shear strength is less than about 2000 psf (90 kPa) (CBR about 3) as a form of
mechanical stabilization. From a foundation engineering point of view, clay soils with
undrained shear strengths of 2000 psf (90 kPa), or higher, are considered to be stiff clays
(Terzaghi and Peck, 1967) and are generally quite good foundation materials. Allowable
footing pressures on such soils can be around 3000 psf (150 kPa) or greater. Simple stress
distribution calculations show that for static loads, such soils will readily support reasonable
truckloads and tire pressures, even under relatively thin granular bases.

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Dynamic loads and high tire pressures are another matter. Some rutting will probably occur
in such soils, especially after a few hundred passes (Webster, 1993). If traffic is limited, as it
is in many temporary roads, or if shallow (< 3 in. {75 mm}) ruts are acceptable, as in most
construction operations, a maximum undrained shear strength of approximately 2000 psf (90
kPa) (CBR = 3) for geosynthetic use in highway construction seems reasonable. However,
for soils that are seasonally weak (e.g., from frost heave) or for high fines content soils which
are susceptible to pumping, a geotextile separator may be of benefit in preventing migration
of fines at a much higher subgrade undrained shear strength. This is especially the case for
permeable base applications. Significant fines migration has been observed with a subgrade
CBR as high as 8 (e.g., Al-Qadi et al., 1998). On firm subgrades, a geotextile placed beneath
the base functions as a separator and filter, as illustrated in Figure 5-2. A greater range of
geotextile applicability is recognized in the M288 specification (AASHTO, 2006) with a
CBR ≥ 3 the geotextile application is identified as separation. The complete M288
specification is presented in Appendix D.

The subgrade conditions for separation applications apply equally to filtration and drainage
applications. Soils with high fines are poorly draining and the strength of such soils is highly
influenced by moisture. Base reinforcement has also been found under certain conditions to
provide significant improvement in performance of pavement sections over a wide range of
subgrade condition (up to a CBR of 8 or greater) (Berg et al, 2000).

As a summary, the application areas and functions in Table 5-1 have been identified as
appropriate for the corresponding subgrade conditions.

Figure 5-2. Geotextile separator beneath permeable base (Baumgartner, 1994).

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Table 5-1
Application and Associated Functions of Geosynthetics in Roadway Systems

Application Function(s) Subgrade Strength Qualifier

Separator Separation 2000 psf ≤ cu ≤ 5000 psf Soils containing high


Secondary: filtration* fines (SC, CL, CH, ML,
(90 kPa ≤ cu ≤ 240 kPa)
MH, SM, SC, GM,GC)
3 ≤ CBR ≤ 8
4500 psi ≤ MR ≥ 11,600 psi
(30 MPa ≤ MR ≥ 80 MPa)

Stabilization Separation, filtration and cu < 2000 psf (90 kPa) Wet, saturated fine
some reinforcement CBR < 3 grained soils (i.e., silt,
(especially CBR <1) clay and organic soils)
MR < 4500 psi (30 MPa)
Secondary: Transmission

Base Reinforcement 600 psf ≤ cu ≤ 5000 psf All subgrade conditions.


Reinforcement Secondary: separation Reinforcement located
(30 kPa ≤ cu ≤ 240 kPa)
within 6 to 12 in. (150 to
3 ≤ CBR ≤ 8 300 mm) of pavement
1500 psi ≤ MR ≥ 11,600 psi
(10 MPa ≤ MR ≥ 80 MPa)

Drainage Transmission and filtration not applicable Poorly draining subgrade


Secondary: separation
*always evaluate filtration requirements

5.2-4 Benefits
Geosynthetics used in both temporary and permanent roadways on soft subgrades, may
provide several cost and performance benefits, including the following.
1. Reducing the intensity of stress on the subgrade (function: reinforcement).
2. Preventing the base aggregate from penetrating into soft subgrades (function:
separation).
3. Preventing subgrade fines from pumping or otherwise migrating up into the base
(function: separation and filtration).
4. Preventing contamination of the base materials which may allow more open-graded,
free draining aggregates to be considered in the design (function: filtration).
5. Reducing the depth of excavation required for the removal of soft, unsuitable
subgrade materials (function: separation and reinforcement).
6. Reducing the thickness of aggregate required to stabilize soft subgrades (function:
separation and reinforcement).

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7. Reducing disturbance of soft or otherwise sensitive subgrade during construction
(function: separation and reinforcement).
8. Allowing an increase in soft subgrade strength over time (function: filtration).
9. Providing more uniform support by reducing the differential settlement of roadways
constructed over variable subgrade (i.e., soft to firm) conditions, which helps
maintain pavement integrity and uniformity (function: reinforcement). Geosynthetics
will also aid in reducing differential settlement in transition areas from cut to fill.
{NOTE: Consolidation settlements are not reduced by the use of geosynthetic
reinforcement.}
10. Reducing maintenance, extending the life of the pavement system, and maintaining
the long-term integrity of base/subbase layer(s) for pavement surface rehabilitation
projects (functions: all).

Geosynthetics may also provide cost and performance benefits when used in roadways with
firm, fairly competent subgrades (CBR ranging from 3 to 8), but containing a high quantity
of fines, which are often sensitive to seasonal environmental conditions, including the
following.

1. Maintaining the structural and drainage characteristics of free draining, more open
graded base and subbase layers by reducing fine grain soil intrusion from the
subgrade over the life of the road, (functions: separation and filtration).
2. Improving deformation response of base/subbase by providing lateral restraint
(function: reinforcement).
3. Extending the design life or increasing structural support through improved drainage
when used for (i.e., geocomposite drains) or as part of the roadway drainage systems
(functions: filtration and drainage).
4. Using a free draining stone layer sandwiched between geotextile filters or a
geocomposite to provide a capillary break to reduce frost action in frost-susceptible
soils (function: drainage).
5. To provide fully or partially membrane-encapsulated soil layers (MESL) to reduce
the effects of seasonal water content changes on roadways on swelling clays
(function: barrier).

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5.3 ROADWAY DESIGN USING GEOSYNTHETICS

Certain design principles are common to all types of roadways, regardless of the design
method or the type of geosynthetic (i.e., geotextile or geogrid). Basically, the design of any
roadway involves a study of each of the components of the system, (surface, aggregate base
courses and subgrade) detailing their behavior under traffic load and their ability to carry that
load under various climatic and environmental conditions. All roadway systems, whether
permanent or temporary, derive their support from the underlying subgrade soils. Thus,
when placed at the subgrade interface, the geosynthetic functions are similar for either
temporary or permanent roadway applications. However, due to different performance
requirements, design methodologies for temporary roads should not be used to design
permanent roads. Temporary roadway design usually allows some rutting to occur over the
design life, as ruts will not necessarily impair service. Obviously, ruts are not acceptable in
permanent roadways.

For temporary roads, our design basically uses geosynthetics for the construction and traffic
support of the roadway section allowing for a specific tolerable amount of rutting.
Recommended design procedures for temporary roads are presented in Sections 5.4 for
geotextiles and 5.5 for geogrids. For permanent road and pavement design, approaches for
using geotextiles for separation, stabilization, and improved drainage applications are
presented in Sections 5.6. Approaches for using geogrids in permanent roads for
stabilization and base reinforcement are covered in Section 5.7. Design for each application
is based on the function(s) of the geosynthetic and the properties required to perform the
intended functions as covered in the following sections.

5.3-1 Functions of Geosynthetics in Roadways and Pavements


A geosynthetic placed at the interface between the aggregate base course and the subgrade
functions as a separator to prevent two dissimilar materials (subgrade soils and aggregates)
from intermixing. Geotextiles perform this function by preventing penetration of the
aggregate into the subgrade (localized bearing failures) and prevent intrusion of subgrade
soils up into the base course aggregate (Figure 5-3). Geogrids can also prevent aggregate
penetration into the subgrade, depending on the ability of the geogrid to confine and prevent
lateral displacement of the base/sub-base. However, the geogrid does not prevent intrusion
of subgrade soils up into the base/sub-base course, which must have a gradation that is
compatible with the subgrade based on standard geotechnical graded granular filer criteria
when using geogrids alone. Localized bearing failures and subgrade intrusion occur in very
soft, wet, weak subgrades.

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Figure 5-3. Concept of geotextile separation in roadways (after Rankilor, 1981).

Subgrade intrusion can also occur under long term dynamic loading due to pumping and
migration of fines, especially when open-graded base courses are used. It only takes a small
amount of fines to significantly affect the structural characteristics of select granular
aggregate (e.g., see Jornby and Hicks, 1986). Therefore, separation is important to maintain
the design thickness and the stability and load-carrying capacity of the base course. Soft
subgrade soils are most susceptible to disturbance during construction activities such as
clearing, grubbing, and initial aggregate placement. Geosynthetics can help minimize
subgrade disturbance and prevent loss of aggregate during construction. Thus, the primary
geotextile function in this application is separation, and can in some cases be considered a
secondary geogrid function.

The system performance may also be influenced by functions of filtration and drainage (see
Table 1-1). The geotextile acts as a filter to prevent fines from migrating up into the
aggregate due to high pore water pressures induced by dynamic wheel loads. It also acts as a
drain, allowing the excess pore pressures to dissipate through the geotextile and the subgrade
soils to gain strength through consolidation and improve with time.

System performance may also be improved through reinforcement. Geogrids and geotextiles
may provide reinforcement through three possible mechanisms.
1. Lateral restraint of the base and subgrade through friction (geotextiles) and interlock
(geogrids) between the aggregate, soil and the geosynthetic (Figure 5-4a).
2. Increase in the system bearing capacity by forcing the potential bearing capacity failure
surface to develop along alternate, higher shear strength surfaces (Figure 5-4b).
3. Membrane support of the wheel loads (Figure 5-4c).

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Figure 5-4. Possible reinforcement functions provided by geosynthetics in roadways:
(a) lateral restraint, (b) bearing capacity increase, and (c) membrane
tension support (after Haliburton, et al., 1981).

When an aggregate layer is loaded by a vehicle wheel or dozer track, the aggregate tends to
move or shove laterally, as shown in Figure 5-4a, unless it is restrained by the subgrade or
geosynthetic reinforcement. Soft, weak subgrade soils provide very little lateral restraint, so
when the aggregate moves laterally, ruts develop on the aggregate surface and also in the
subgrade. A geogrid with good interlocking capabilities or a geotextile with good frictional
capabilities can provide tensile resistance to lateral aggregate movement. Another possible
geosynthetic reinforcement mechanism is illustrated in Figure 5-4b. Using the analogy of a
wheel load to a footing, the geosynthetic reinforcement forces the potential bearing capacity
failure surface to follow an alternate higher strength path. This tends to increase the bearing
capacity of the subgrade soil.

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A third possible geosynthetic reinforcement function is membrane-type support of wheel
loads, as shown conceptually in Figure 5-4c. In this case, the wheel load stresses must be
great enough to cause plastic deformation and ruts in the subgrade. If the geosynthetic has a
sufficiently high tensile modulus, tensile stresses will develop in the reinforcement, and the
vertical component of this membrane stress will help support the applied wheel loads. As
tensile stress within the geosynthetic cannot be developed without some elongation, wheel
path rutting (in excess of 4 in. {100 mm}) is required to develop membrane-type support.
Therefore, this mechanism is generally limited to temporary roads or the first aggregate lift in
permanent roadways.

5.3-2 Possible Failure Modes of Permanent Roads


Yoder and Witczak (1975) define two types of pavement distress or failure. The first is a
structural failure, in which a collapse of the entire structure or a breakdown of one or more of
the pavement components renders the pavement incapable of sustaining the loads imposed on
its surface. The second type failure is a functional failure; it occurs when the pavement, due
to its roughness, is unable to carry out its intended function without causing discomfort to
drivers or passengers or imposing high stresses on vehicles. The cause of these failure
conditions may be due to excessive loads, climatic and environmental conditions, poor
drainage leading to poor subgrade conditions, and disintegration of the component materials.
Excessive loads, excessive repetition of loads, and high tire pressures can cause either
structural or functional failures.

Pavement failures may occur due to the intrusion of subgrade soils into the granular base,
which results in inadequate drainage and reduced stability. A small increase in fines can
substantially reduce the ability of the base to drain, e.g., an increase from 5% to 10% fines
(particles < No. 200 {0.075mm} sieve) can reduce the permeability of gravel by several
orders of magnitude. Either increasing fines or the moisture in the base can reduce its
resilient modulus, but a combination of both can be disastrous. Distress may also occur due
to excessive loads that cause a shear failure in the subgrade, base course, or the surface.
Other causes of failures are surface fatigue and excessive settlement, especially differential
settlement of the subgrade. Volume change of subgrade soils due to wetting and drying,
freezing and thawing, or improper drainage may also cause pavement distress.

Inadequate drainage of water from the base and subgrade is a major cause of pavement
problems (Cedergren, 1987). If the subgrade is saturated, excess pore pressures will develop
under traffic loads, resulting in subsequent softening of the subgrade. Under dynamic
loading, fines can be literally pumped up into the subbase or base.

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Improper construction practices may also cause pavement distress. Wetting of the subgrade
during construction may permit water accumulation and subsequent softening of the
subgrade in the rutted areas after construction is completed. Use of dirty aggregates (e.g.,
aggregates containing more than 5% fines) or contamination of the base aggregates during
construction may produce inadequate drainage, instability, and frost susceptibility.
Reduction in design thickness during construction due to insufficient subgrade preparation
may result in undulating subgrade surfaces, failure to place proper layer thicknesses, and
unanticipated loss of base materials due to subgrade intrusion. Yoder and Witczak (1975)
state that a major cause of pavement deterioration is inadequate observation and field control
by qualified engineers and technicians during construction.

After construction is complete, improper or inadequate maintenance may also result in


pavement distress. Sealing cracks and joints at proper intervals must be performed to prevent
surface water infiltration. Maintenance of shoulders will also affect pavement performance.

As indicated in the list of possible benefits resulting from geosynthetic use in permanent
roadway systems (section 5.2-4), properly designed geosynthetics can enhance pavement
performance and reduce the likelihood of failures. Considering that a modern pavement
section costs on the order of $25/yd2 ($30/m2) for secondary roads and up to $100/yd2
($120/m2) for a primary road (i.e., based on five hundred thousand to several million dollars
per mile), only a year or two of extended life will easily cover the cost of the geosynthetic,
typically on the order of 1 to 3 $/yd2 (1.20 to 3.60 $/m2) installed. A recent study in Virginia
on monitored pavement sections found an anticipated improvement of over 100 % in traffic
loading for sections with geotextile separation layers as compared to control sections (Bhutta,
1998; and, Al-Qadi and Appea, 2003).

Perhaps of greater value, the geosynthetics at the subgrade-base interface and/or within the
base increase the reliability of the base and subgrade support, allowing rehabilitations of the
riding layer (i.e., asphalt) and extending pavement life before complete reconstruction is
required. A competent subgrade/base support is critical to realizing life-cycle cost benefits of
surface rehabilitations over the life of a pavement structure.

5.3-3 Design for Separation


For separation design, the base course thickness required to adequately carry the design
traffic loads for the design life of the pavement is not reduced due to the use of a
geosynthetic. Recall that geotextile separators help prevent pavement failures due to the
intrusion of finer subgrade soil fractions into the granular base layer(s). Geotextiles
separation layers may also be used between dense and open graded base layers.

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Most any geotextile will work in this application as long as it is strong enough to survive
construction. As indicated in Table 5-1, filtration is a secondary function in this application.
Therefore the geotextile should have small enough openings to prevent contamination of the
base and subbase pavement layers from the subgrade materials and be sufficiently permeable
(i.e., more permeable than the subgrade) to prevent the development of pore water pressure
in the subgrade.

5.3-4 Design for Stabilization


In stabilization design, the geosynthetic (geotextile or geogrid) and aggregate thickness
required to stabilize the subgrade and provide an adequate roadbed are evaluated. Recall that
this application is primarily for construction expedience. For design of permanent roads, this
stabilization lift also provides an improved roadbed (i.e., less subgrade disturbance, a gravel
layer that will not be contaminated due to intermixing with the subgrade, and a potential for
subgrade improvement of time). The base course thickness required to adequately carry the
design traffic loads for the design life of the pavement may be reduced due to the improved
roadbed condition, provided an assessment is made of the improvement.

As indicated in Table 5-1, geosynthetics used in this application perform multiple functions
of separation, filtration and reinforcement. Separation design requirements were discussed in
previous section. Because the subgrade soils are generally wet and saturated in this
application, the filtration design principles developed in Chapter 2 are applicable.

With respect to reinforcement requirements, there are two main approaches to stabilization
design. The first approach inherently includes the reinforcement function through improved
bearing capacity and there is no direct reinforcing contribution (or input) for the strength
characteristics of the geosynthetic. In this method, geotextiles act as a separator and filter
only. When this approach is used for geogrids, a geotextile or graded granular soil separation
layer is also required to address these functional requirements. The second approach
considers a possible reinforcing effect due to the geosynthetic. It appears that the separation
function is more important for roadway sections with relatively small live loads where ruts,
approximating 2 in to 4 in. (50 to 100 mm) are anticipated. In these cases, a design which
assumes no reinforcing effect is generally conservative. On the other hand, for large live
loads on thin roadways where deep ruts (> 4 in. {100 mm}) may occur, and for thicker
roadways on softer subgrades, the reinforcing function becomes increasingly more important
if stability is to be maintained. It is for these latter cases that reinforcing analyses have been
developed and are appropriate.

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The reinforcing mechanisms mobilized in subgrade stabilization are different between
geogrids and geotextiles. Due to the open structure and large apertures, the geogrids
interlock with base course aggregate and change the stress and strain conditions in the
vicinity of the geogrid. The efficiency of the geogrid-aggregate interlock depends on the
relationship between aperture size and aggregate particle size, and the in-plane stiffness of
the geogrid ribs and junctions. A design method that recognizes these distinctions is
presented in Section 5.5 along with the empirical method in Section 5.4 for geotextiles,
modified for geogrids.

The separation function of geogrids, which is considered secondary in geogrid reinforced


stabilization applications, is less obvious mainly because of the geogrids’ open structure. It
is recommended that a geotextile be used as a separator beneath a geogrid to prevent
migration of fines into the aggregate layers over time. However, it is possible to eliminate
the geotextile by designing the gradation of the base or a subbase layer to provide separation
based on well known graded granular filter design principals (e.g., see Cedegren, 1989).
Graded granular subbase layers are conventionally used in roadway design (e.g., see the
FHWA Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements Manual, Christopher et al., 2006). Geogrids
provide a stable platform for the base aggregate, which may be sized to adequately filter the
subgrade fines to prevent pumping (see Figure 5.5 and Anderson, 2006). The movement of
fine grained soils into coarse aggregates can be prevented if the pore spaces of the aggregates
are small enough to hold the particles in place. When a geogrid is present at the subgrade-
base course interface, the relative movement of the soil particles is further constrained due to
confinement provided by the geogrid-aggregate interlock. As a result, the possibility of soil
migration is further reduced. The application of the graded granular filter criteria is shown in
the example for geogrid-reinforced unpaved roads in Section 5.5-3.

Figure 5-5. Filtration at the interface of two dissimilar materials (without geosynthetics)
(after Cedegren, 1989).

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5.3-5 Reinforced Base/Subbase Design
Geogrids have been used for reinforcement of aggregate layers within the pavement system
since their introduction in the early 1980s. The predominant reinforcing mechanism
associated with this application is base course lateral restraint (Figure 5-4a). The base course
lateral restraint develops through interlock between the aggregate, soil and the geogrid
because four reinforcement effects: (1) prevention of lateral spreading of aggregate; (2)
confinement of aggregate resulting in increased strength/stiffness of aggregate in the vicinity
of the geogrid; (3) reduction of vertical stresses on top of the subgrade; and (4) reduction of
shear stress on the subgrade.

Despite many successful projects and research it is recognized that the use of geogrid
reinforcement in paved roadways is relatively limited compared to other geosynthetics
applications. Berg et al. (2000), Perkins et al. (2005c), and Gabr et al. (2006) indicated the
following major reasons for the relatively limited used of geogrids in base reinforcement
applications:
1. Lack of an accepted design method. Currently the use of base reinforcement applications
is based on prior experience and empirically based design approaches which are limited
to the conditions of the related experiments.
2. Existing numerical models for pavement design without geosynthetics are complicated
(NCHRP, 2002) and the perception is that the inclusion of geosynthetics will complicate
them further. A recent movement toward adoption of a mechanistic-empirical design
approach recognized that this will allow quantification of the geogrid benefits in a
rational and consistent way.
3. Few studies provide comparison for the full range of available geogrids (i.e., woven vs.
extruded, different aperture stiffness/stability, etc.), and some types of geogrids have
been studied more often than others.
4. Geogrids (and geosynthetics in general) are perceived as special materials that are
considered only if problem areas need to be fixed (Gabr et al., 2006).
5. Lack of a uniform method for cost-benefit analysis.

It is recognized that the development of a design method within the framework of the
mechanistic-empirical design method will address the limitations of the current design
approaches and lead to a broader use of geosynthetics in base reinforcement applications.

Two approaches are presented for base reinforcement in Section 5.7. The first uses an
empirical procedure based on current AASHTO and the improved traffic benefit derived
from using the geosynthetic. The other method is based on the AASHTO mechanistic-
empirical design approach (AASHTO, 2008).

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5.3-6 Material Properties used in Design
As with any geosynthetic applications, the material properties required for design are based
on the properties required to perform the primary and secondary function(s) for the specific
application over the life of the system and the properties required to survive installation. The
separation and filtration functions are related to opening characteristics and are determined
based on the gradation of the adjacent layers (i.e., subgrade, base and/or subbase layers).
Some strength is, of course, required for the reinforcing function, which is based on the
requirements in the specific design approach. If the roadway system is designed correctly,
then the stress at the top of the subgrade due to the weight of the aggregate and the traffic
load should be less than the bearing capacity of the soil plus a safety factor, which is
generally a relatively low value compared to the strength of most geosynthetics. However,
the stresses applied to the subgrade and the geotextile during construction may be much
greater than those applied in-service. Therefore, the strength of the geotextile or geogrid in
roadway applications is usually governed by the anticipated construction stresses and the
required level of performance. This is the concept of geosynthetic survivability -- the
geosynthetic must survive the construction operations if it is to perform its intended function.

Table 5-2 relates the elements of construction (i.e., equipment, aggregate characteristics,
subgrade preparation, and subgrade shear strength) to the severity of the loading imposed on
the geosynthetic. If one or more of these items falls within a particular severity category
(i.e., moderate or high), then geosynthetics meeting those survivability requirements should
be selected.
Table 5-2
Construction Survivability Ratings (after Task Force 25, AASHTO, 1990)
Site Soil CBR at Installation1 <1 1 to 2 >3

Equipment Ground Contact > 50 psi < 50 psi > 50 psi < 50 psi > 50 psi < 50 psi
Pressure (350 kPa) (350 kPa) (350 kPa) (350 kPa) (350 kPa) (350 kPa)

Cover Thickness2 (compacted)

4 in. (100 mm)3,4 NR5 NR 15 1 25 2


6 in. (150 mm) NR NR 1 1 2 2
12 in. (300 mm) NR 1 2 2 2 2
18 in. (450 mm) 1 2 2 2 2 2

NOTES:
1. Assume saturated CBR unless construction scheduling can be controlled.
2. Maximum aggregate size not to exceed one-half the compacted cover thickness.
3. For low-volume, unpaved roads (ADT < 200 vehicles).
4. The 4 in. (100 mm) min. cover is limited to existing road bases & not intended for use in new construction.
5. NR = NOT RECOMMENDED; 1 = high survivability Class 1 geotextiles per AASHTO M288 (2006).;
and, 2 = moderate survivability Class 2 geotextiles per AASHTO M288 (2006).

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-16 August 2008
For the high category in Table 5-2, geosynthetics that can survive the most severe conditions
anticipated during construction should be used and are designated as Class 1 geosynthetics in
the following geosynthetic property requirements tables. Geosynthetics that can survive
normal construction conditions are Class 2 geosynthetics and may be considered for the
moderate category. Variable combinations indicating a NOT RECOMMENDED rating
suggests that one or more variables should be modified to assure a successful installation.
Some judgment is required in using these criteria.

Table 5-3 and 5-4 list the geotextile property requirements from AASHTO M288 (2006) for
stabilization and separation applications. Geotextiles that meet or exceed these survivability
requirements can be considered acceptable for most projects. The selected geotextile must
also retain the underlying subgrade soils, allowing the subgrade to drain freely, consolidate,
and gain strength. Thus, the geotextile must be checked, using the drainage and filtration
requirements in Chapter 2. Default geotextile requirements are presented in each table.

The survivability requirements in these tables were based on both research and on the
properties of geotextiles which have performed satisfactorily as separators in roads and in
similar applications. In the absence of any other information, they should be used as
minimum property values. Judgment and experience may be used to reduce the geotextile
requirements as indicated by AASHTO M288 or possibly increase the geotextile
requirements for very harsh construction conditions (e.g., NR is indicated by Table 5-2).

Table 5-5 lists the survivability requirements for geogrids in stabilization and base
reinforcement applications. A national guide of practice has not been established for
geogrids. Therefore the recommended requirements were developed specifically for this
manual and were based on a review of research on construction survivability (e.g., GMA,
1999), a review of state and federal agency specifications on geogrids (e.g., Christopher et
al., 2001 and USCOE, 2003), and on the properties of geogrids which have performed
satisfactorily in these applications (e.g., Berg et al., 2000). The specific property
requirements were conservatively selected with consideration for high reliability required on
public sector projects. Field trials or construction survivability tests following the
recommendations in note 5 of Table 5-5 for both the material and junction strength could be
used to reduce this conservatism.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-17 August 2008
Table 5-3
Geotextile Property Requirements1,2,3
for Stabilization Applications (CBR < 3)
(after AASHTO, 2006)
ASTM
Property Test Units Requirement
Method

Geotextile Class 14
SURVIVABILITY
Elongation
< 50%5 > 50%5

Grab Strength D 4632 lb (N) 315 (1400) 200 (900)

Sewn Seam Strength6 D 4632 lb (N) 280 (1260) 180 (810)

Tear Strength D 4533 lb (N) 110 (500) 80 (350)

Puncture Strength D 6241 lb (N) 620 (2750) 433 (1925)

Ultraviolet Stability
D 4355 % 50% after 500 hours of exposure
(Retained Strength)

DRAINAGE AND FILTRATION7

0.43 for < 50% passing No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve
Apparent Opening Size D 4751 mm
< 0.3 for > 50% passing No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve

0.5 for < 15% passing No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve
Permittivity D 4491 sec-1 0.2 for 15 to 50%passing No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve
0.1 for > 50% passing No.200 (0.075 mm) sieve

NOTES:
1. Acceptance of geotextile material shall be based on ASTM D 4759.
2. Acceptance shall be based upon testing of either conformance samples obtained using Procedure A of
ASTM D 4354, or based on manufacturer’s certifications and testing of quality assurance samples obtained
using Procedure B of ASTM D 4354.
3. Minimum; use value in weaker principal direction. All numerical values represent minimum average roll
value (i.e., test results from any sampled roll in a lot shall meet or exceed the minimum values in the table).
Lot samples according to ASTM D 4354.
4. Default geotextile selection. The engineer may specify a Class 2 geotextile (see Appendix D) for moderate
survivability conditions, see Table 5-2.
5. As measured in accordance with ASTM D 4632.
6. When seams are required. Values apply to both field and manufactured seams.
7. The geotextile permeability should be greater than the soil permeability.
8. Due to filtration and drainage requirements, woven slit film geotextiles should not be allowed.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-18 August 2008
Table 5-4
Geotextile Property Requirements1,2,3
for Separation Applications (CBR ≥ 3)
(after AASHTO, 2006)
ASTM
Property Test Units Requirement
Method

Geotextile Class 24
SURVIVABILITY
Elongation
< 50%5 > 50%5

Grab Strength D 4632 lb (N) 250 (1100) 157 (700)

Sewn Seam Strength6 D 4632 lb (N) 220 (990) 140 (630)

Tear Strength D 4533 lb (N) 90 (400) 56 (250)

Puncture Strength D 6241 lb (N) 495 (2200) 309 (1375)

Ultraviolet Stability
D 4355 % 50% after 500 hours of exposure
(Retained Strength)

DRAINAGE AND FILTRATION7

< 0.6 for < 50% passing No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve
Apparent Opening Size D 4751 mm
< 0.3 for > 50%passing No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve

Permittivity D 4491 sec-1 > 0.02 and > Permittivity of soil

NOTES:
1. Acceptance of geotextile material shall be based on ASTM D 4759.
2. Acceptance shall be based upon testing of either conformance samples obtained using Procedure A of
ASTM D 4354, or based on manufacturer’s certifications and testing of quality assurance samples obtained
using Procedure B of ASTM D 4354.
3. Minimum; use value in weaker principal direction. All numerical values represent minimum average roll
value (i.e., test results from any sampled roll in a lot shall meet or exceed the minimum values in the table).
Lot samples according to ASTM D 4354.
4. Default geotextile selection. The engineer may specify a Class 3 geotextile (see Appendix D) for moderate
survivability conditions, see Table 5-2.
5. As measured in accordance with ASTM D 4632.
6. When seams are required. Values apply to both field and manufactured seams.
7. Also, the geotextile permeability should be greater than the soil permeability.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-19 August 2008
Table 5-5
Geogrid Survivability Property Requirements1,2,3
For Stabilization and Base Reinforcement Applications

Property Test Units Requirement


Method

Geogrid Class
SURVIVABILITY
CLASS 14 CLASS 2 CLASS 3

Ultimate Multi-Rib Tensile ASTM lb/ft


1230 (18) 820 (12) 820 (12)
Strength D 6637 (kN/m)

GSI GRI
Junction Strength5 lb (N) 255 (1105) 25 (110) 8 (35)
GG2

Ultraviolet Stability ASTM


% 50% after 500 hours of exposure
(Retained Strength) D 4355

OPENING CHARACTERISTICS

0.5 to 3 in. (12.5 to 75 mm) and


Direct
Aperture Size in. (mm) Aperture Size ≥ D50 of aggregate above geogrid
measure
Aperture Size ≤ 2⋅D85 of aggregate above geogrid

ASTM D85 of aggregate above geogrid < 5⋅D85 subgrade


Separation mm
D 422 Other wise use separation geotextile with geogrid

NOTES:
1. Acceptance of geogrid material shall be based on ASTM D 4759.
2. Acceptance shall be based upon testing of either conformance samples obtained using Procedure A of
ASTM D 4354, or based on manufacturer’s certifications and testing of quality assurance samples obtained
using Procedure B of ASTM D 4354.
3. Minimum; use value in weaker principal direction. All numerical values represent minimum average roll
value (i.e., test results from any sampled roll in a lot shall meet or exceed the minimum values in the table).
Lot samples according to ASTM D 4354.
4. Default geogrid selection. The engineer may specify a Class 2 or 3 geogrid for moderate survivability
conditions, see Table 5-2, based on one or more of the following:
a) The Engineer has found the class of geogrid to have sufficient survivability based on field experience.
b) The Engineer has found the class of geogrid to have sufficient survivability based on laboratory testing
and visual inspection of a geotextile sample removed from a field test section constructed under
anticipated field conditions (see note 5).
5. Junction strength requirements have not been fully supported by data, and until such data is established,
manufacturers shall submit data from full scale installation damage tests in accordance with ASTM D 5818
documenting integrity of junctions. For soft soil applications, a minimum of 6 in. (150 mm) of cover
aggregate shall be placed over the geogrid and a loaded dump truck used to traverse the section a minimum
number of passes to achieve 4 in. (100 mm) of rutting. A photographic record of the geogrid after
exhumation shall be provided, which clearly shows that junctions have not been displaced or otherwise
damaged during the installation process.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-20 August 2008
Survivability of geogrids and geotextiles for major projects should be verified by conducting
field tests under site-specific conditions. These field tests should involve trial sections using
several geosynthetics on typical subgrades at the project site and implementing various types
of construction equipment. After placement of the geosynthetics and aggregate, the
geosynthetics are exhumed to see how well or how poorly they tolerated the imposed
construction stresses. These tests could be performed during design or after the contract was
let, similar to the recommendations for riprap placement (Section 3.8-1). In the latter case,
the contractor is required to demonstrate that the proposed subgrade condition, equipment,
and aggregate placement will not significantly damage the geotextile or geogrid. If
necessary, additional subgrade preparation, increased lift thickness, and/or different
construction equipment could be utilized. In rare cases, the contractor may even have to
supply a different geosynthetic.

5.4 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR USE OF GEOTEXTILES IN TEMPORARY AND


UNPAVED ROADS

Geotextiles have been extensively used for over four decades to facilitate the construction
and improve the performance of unpaved low-volume roads on weak subgrades. The
benefits of geotextiles used in unpaved low-volume roads have been well documented in
numerous case histories, full-scale laboratory experiments, and instrumented field studies
(e.g., Stewart et al, 1977; Bender and Barenberg, 1978; Haliburton and Barron, 1983; Al-
Qadi, et al., 1994; Austin and Coleman, 1993; Wen-Sen Tsai, 1995; Fannin and Sigurdsson,
1996; Christopher and Lacina, 2008; just to name just a few). This historical data base
provides the support for the recommended design methods covered in this section as well as
the extension of these procedures for designing geotextiles in permanent roads in Section 5.6.

For unpaved road design, the design method presented in this section considers mainly the
separation and filtration functions of the geotextile with some reinforcing benefit. It was
selected because it has a long history of successful use, it is based on principles of soil
mechanics, and it has been calibrated by full-scale field tests. It can also be adapted to a
wide variety of conditions. Although the reinforcement function is inherently included in
this method through improved bearing capacity, there is no direct reinforcing contribution (or
input) for the strength characteristics of the geotextile. Most of the above referenced research
has found that significant rutting (i.e., > 4 in. {100 mm}) is required to obtain additional
reinforcement benefit. Other methods considering reinforcement functions are described by
Koerner (2005), Giroud and Han (2004), Christopher and Holtz (1985), and Giroud and
Noiray (1981). For roadways where stability of the embankment foundation is questionable
(i.e., ((H/c) > 3), refer to Chapter 7 for information on reinforced embankments.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-21 August 2008
The following design method was developed by Steward, Williamson, and Mohney (1977)
for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). It allows the designer to consider:
• vehicle passes;
• equivalent axle loads;
• axle configurations;
• tire pressures;
• subgrade strengths; and
• rut depths.

The following limitations apply:


• the aggregate layer must be
a) high quality fill (e.g., laboratory CBR based on ASTM D 1883 ≥ 80),
b) cohesionless (nonplastic);
• vehicle passes less than 10,000;
• geotextile survivability criteria must be considered; and
• subgrade undrained shear strength less than about 2000 psf (90 kPa) (CBR < 3).

As discussed in Section 5.2-3, for subgrades stronger than about 2000 psf (90 kPa) (CBR >
3), geotextiles are rarely required for stabilization, although geotextiles may provide
separation benefits and should be used to enhance drainage and filtration (i.e., allowing the
use of open graded aggregate). Where drainage and filtration are likely to be important, the
principles developed in Chapter 2 are applicable, just as they are for weaker subgrades where
drainage and filtration are likely to be very important.

Based on both theoretical analysis and empirical (laboratory and full-scale field) tests on
geotextiles, Steward, Williamson and Mohney (1977) determined that a certain amount of
rutting would occur under various traffic conditions, both with and without a geotextile
separator and for a given stress level acting on the subgrade. They present this stress level in
terms of bearing capacity factors, similar to those commonly used for the design of shallow
foundations on cohesive soils. These factors and conditions are given in Table 5-6.

The following design procedure is recommended:

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-22 August 2008
Table 5-6
Bearing Capacity Factors for Different Ruts and Traffic
Conditions both With and Without Geotextiles
(after Steward, Williamson, and Mohney, 1977)
Ruts Traffic Bearing Capacity
Condition in. (mm) (Passes of 18 kip {80 kN} Factor, Nc
axle equivalents)
Without Geotextiles < 2 in. (50 mm) >1000 2.8
> 4 in. (100 mm) <100 3.3
With Geotextiles < 2 in. (50 mm) >1000 5.0
> 4 in. (100 mm) <100 6.0

STEP 1. Determine soil subgrade strength.


Determine the subgrade soil strength in the field using the field CBR, cone penetrometer,
vane shear, resilent modulus, or any other appropriate test. The undrained shear strength
of the soil, c, can be obtained from the following relationships:
• for field CBR, c in psi = 4.3 x CBR (c in kPa = 30 x CBR);
• for the WES cone penetrometer, c = cone index divided by 10 or 11,
depending on the soil type; and
• for the vane shear test, c is directly measured.
Other in-situ tests, such as the static cone penetrometer test (CPT) or dilatometer (DMT),
may be used, provided local correlations with undrained shear strength exist. Use of the
Standard Penetration Test (SPT) is not recommended for soft clays.

Determine subgrade strength at several locations and at different times of the year. Make
strength determinations at several locations where the subgrade appears to be the
weakest. Strengths should be evaluated at depth of 0 in. to 8 in. (0 to 200 mm) and from
8 in. to 20 in. (200 - 500 mm); six to ten strength measurements are recommended at each
location to obtain a good average value. Tests should also be performed when the soils
are in their weakest condition, when the water table is the highest, etc. Alternatively, a
saturated soaked laboratory CBR test (ASTM D1883) could be performed to model wet
conditions in the field (e.g., for compacted soils that will be exposed to wet conditions).

STEP 2. Determine wheel loading.


Determine the maximum single wheel load, maximum dual wheel load, and the
maximum dual tandem wheel load anticipated for the roadway during the design period.
For example, a 10 yd3 (7.6 m3) dump truck with tandem axles will have a dual wheel load
of approximately 8,000 lbf (35 kN). A motor grader has a wheel load of 5,000 to 10,000
lbf (22 to 44 kN).

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-23 August 2008
STEP 3. Estimate amount of traffic.
Estimate the maximum amount of traffic anticipated for each design vehicle class.

STEP 4. Establish tolerable rutting.


Establish the amount of tolerable rutting during the design life of the roadway. For
example, a rut of 2 in. to 3 in. (50 to 75 mm) is generally acceptable during construction.

STEP 5. Obtain bearing capacity factor(s).


Obtain appropriate subgrade stress level in terms of the bearing capacity factors in Table
5-6. Values may be obtained for both the conditions with geotextiles and without
geotextiles for estimating the cost effectiveness of using a geotextile.

STEP 6. Determine required aggregate thickness(es).


Determine the required aggregate thickness(es) from the USFS design chart (Figures 5-6,
5-7 or 5-8) for each maximum loading. Enter the curve with appropriate bearing capacity
factors (Nc) multiplied by the design subgrade undrained shear strength (c) to evaluate
each required stress level (cNc).

STEP 7. Select design thickness(es).


Select the design thickness based on the design requirements (e.g., for the maximum
loading condition, with and without geotextiles, as required). The design thickness(es)
should be given to the next higher 1 in. (25 mm).

STEP 8. For geotextile, check geotextile drainage and filtration characteristics.


Check the geotextile drainage and filtration requirements. Use the gradation and
permeability of the subgrade, the water table conditions, and the retention and
permeability criteria given in Chapter 2. From Chapter 2, that criteria is:
AOS < D85 (Wovens) (Eq. 2-3)
AOS < 1.8 D85 (Nonwovens) (Eq. 2-4)
kgeotextile > ksoil (Eq. 2-7a)
ψ < 0.1 sec -1
(Eq. 2-8c)

STEP 9. Determine geotextile survivability requirements.


Check the geotextile survivability strength requirements as discussed in Section 5.3-6.

STEP 10. Specify geotextile property requirements.


Specify geotextiles that meet or exceed the survivability criteria from Step 9.

STEP 11. Specify construction requirements. (Follow the procedures in Section 5.8.)

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-24 August 2008
Figure 5-6. U.S. Forest Service thickness design curve for single wheel load (Steward et
al., 1977).

Figure 5-7. U.S. Forest Service thickness design curve for tandem wheel load (Steward et
al., 1977).

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-25 August 2008
(a)

(b)
Figure 5-8. Thickness design curves with geotextiles for a) single and b) dual wheel loads
(after Steward et al., 1977 & FHWA NHI-95-038, 1998; modified for highway applications).

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-26 August 2008
5.4-1 Temporary Road Design Example

DEFINITION OF DESIGN EXAMPLE


• Project Description: A haul road over wet, soft soils is required for a highway
construction project.

• Type of Structure: temporary unpaved road

• Type of Application: geotextile for stabilization of subgrade (functions separation,


filtration, and some reinforcement)

• Alternatives :i) excavate unsuitable material and increased aggregate thickness


ii.) geotextile between aggregate and subgrade
iii.) use an estimated depth of aggregate and maintain as required

GIVEN DATA
• subgrade - cohesive subgrade soils
- high water table
- average undrained shear strength about 600 psf (30 kPa) or CBR = 1
• traffic - approximately 5000 passes
- 20,000 lbf (90 kN) single axle truck
- 80 psi (550 kPa) tire pressure
• ruts - maximum of 2 in to 4 in. (50 to 100 mm)

REQUIRED
Design the roadway section.
Consider: 1) design without a geotextile; and, 2) alternate with geotextile.

DEFINE
A. Geotextile function(s):
B. Geotextile properties required:
C. Geotextile specification:

SOLUTION

A. Geotextile function(s):
Primary - separation and filtration
Secondary - drainage, reinforcement

B. Geotextile properties required:


survivability
apparent opening size (AOS)

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-27 August 2008
DESIGN Design roadway with and without geotextile inclusion. Compare options.

STEP 1. DETERMINE SOIL SUBGRADE STRENGTH

given - CBR ≈ 1
Assume that CBR ≈ 1 is taken from area(s) where the subgrade appears to be the weakest.

STEP 2. DETERMINE WHEEL LOADING

given - 20,000 lbf (90 kN) single-axle truck, with 80 psi (550 kPa) tire pressure
- therefore, 10,000 lbf (45 kN) single wheel load

STEP 3. ESTIMATE AMOUNT OF TRAFFIC

given - 5,000 passes

STEP 4. ESTABLISH TOLERABLE RUTTING

given - 2 in. to 4 in. (50 to 100 mm)

STEP 5. OBTAIN BEARING CAPACITY FACTOR


Without a geotextile: - 2.8 < Nc < 3.3
- assume Nc . 3.0 for 5,000 passes and 2 in to 4 in. (50 to 100 mm) ruts

with a geotextile: - 5.0 < Nc < 6.0


- assume Nc . 5.5 for 5,000 passes and 2 in to 4 in. (50 to 100 mm) ruts

STEP 6. DETERMINE REQUIRED AGGREGATE THICKNESSES

without a geotextile (FROM FIGURE 5-6)


- c⋅Nc = 600 psf x 3.0 = 1800 psf
(c⋅Nc = 30 kPa x 3.0 = 90 kPa)
- depth of aggregate ≈ 19 in. (475 mm)

with a geotextile
- c⋅Nc = 600 psf x 5.5 = 3500 psf
(c⋅Nc = 30 kPa x 3.0 = 165 kPa)
- Depth of aggregate ≈ 13 in. (325 mm)

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-28 August 2008
STEP 7. SELECT DESIGN THICKNESS

Use 13 in. (325 mm) and a geotextile

STEP 8. CHECK GEOTEXTILE DRAINAGE AND FILTRATION CHARACTERISTICS

Use AOS < 0.012 in. (0.3 mm) and permittivity ≥ 0.1 sec-1, per requirement of Table 5-3 since
soil has > 50% passing the No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve. Permeability of geotextile must be greater
than soil permeability.

STEP 9. DETERMINE GEOTEXTILE SURVIVABILITY REQUIREMENTS

Use Table 5-2: with CBR = 1, dump truck contact pressure > 80 psi (550 kPa), and 13 in. (325
mm) cover thickness, and find a MODERATE survivability to NOT RECOMMENDED rating.

Use a HIGH, or Class 1, survivability geotextile, or greater.

STEP 10. SPECIFY GEOTEXTILE PROPERTY REQUIREMENTS

From Table 5-3; geotextile shall meet or exceed the minimum average roll values, with
elongation at failure determined with the ASTM D 4632 test method, of:

ASTM Elongation Elongation


Property Test Method < 50% > 50%
Grab Strength D 4632 315 lb (1400 N) 200 lb (900 N)
Sewn Seam Strength D 4632 270 lb (1200 N) 180 lb (810 N)
Tear Resistance D 4533 110 lb ( 500 N) 80 lb (350 N)
Puncture Strength D 6241 620 lb (2750 N) 433 lb (1925 N)
Ultraviolet Stability D 4355 50% strength retained after 500 hours

The geotextile shall have an AOS < 0.3 mm, ψ > 0.1 sec-1, and the permeability shall be ______.

STEP 11. SPECIFY CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS


See Section 5.8.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-29 August 2008
5.5 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR USE OF GEOGRIDS IN TEMPORARY AND
UNPAVED ROADS

Geogrids are commonly used to facilitate the construction and improve the performance of
unpaved low-volume roads on weak subgrades. As previously indicated in Section 5-3, the
primary function of the geogrid in this application is reinforcement leading to reduced
amount of aggregate needed, less maintenance, extended service life or a combination of
these. A secondary function is fill/subgrade separation.

The benefits of geogrids in unpaved low-volume roads have been shown in numerous
laboratory and full-scale experiments (e.g., Haas et al., 1988; Webster, 1993; Collin et al.,
1996; Fannin and Sigurdsson, 1996; Knapton and Austin, 1996; Gabr et al., 2001; and, Leng
and Gabr, 2002). Some experimental programs investigated the performance of different
geogrids (extruded, woven or welded) and the results showed that the stiffer geogrids
performed better (Webster, 1993; Collin et al., 1996). These experiments served as a basis
for the development of the empirical design methods for geogrid-reinforced unpaved low-
volume roads.

Historically the geogrids were introduced to the market in the early 1980s and by that time
geotextiles were used at the base-subgrade interface for separation, filtration and some
reinforcement. As a result, the first empirical design procedures of Barenberg et al. (1975)
and Steward et al. (1977) (as described in Section 5.4) were developed for geotextiles-
reinforced unpaved roads using solutions based on the limit equilibrium bearing capacity
theory. The solution of Steward et al. (1977) was modified by Tingle and Webster (2003) for
geogrid reinforcement and the proposed modification was adopted in the COE method for
design of geotextile- and geogrid-reinforced unpaved roads (USCOE, 2003). This approach
is described in Section 5.5-1.

Utilizing previous research, Giroud and Han (2004) developed theoretically based and
experimentally calibrated design method for geogrid-reinforced unpaved roads that reflects
the improvements due to the geogrid-aggregate interlock. The method can also be utilized
for analysis of unreinforced and geotextile-reinforced unpaved roads, or temporary platforms.
This approach will be presented in Section 5.5-2.

5.5-1 Empirical Design Method: Modified Steward et al. (1977)


Tingle and Webster (2003) used full-scale experiments to evaluate the applicability of the
design procedure for geogrid-reinforced unpaved roads and further validated the bearing
capacity factors of 5.0 and 6.0 for geotextile-reinforced unpaved roads (as discussed in
Section 5.4). Their analysis concluded that the bearing capacity factor of 2.8 for

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-30 August 2008
unreinforced roads was acceptable. For the geogrid-reinforced case they suggested a bearing
capacity factor of 5.8 and recommended the use of geotextile as a separator. Application of
the modified Steward et al. (1977) design method to geogrid-reinforced unpaved roads is the
same as the method outlined in Section 5.4 and using a bearing capacity factor of 5.8. The
geogrid is based on the properties listed in Table 5-5. The area of applicability and
limitations of this design method are the same as those presented in Section 5.4 and are not
repeated here. It is recommended that a geotextile be used as a separator beneath a geogrid
unless the gradation of the aggregate can act as a separator for the subgrade (Section 5.3-4).

5.5-2 Empirical Design Method of Giroud and Han (2004)


Giroud and Han (2004) developed a theoretically based and empirically calibrated design
method specifically designed for geogrid-reinforced unpaved roads and areas. They built
upon earlier design methods developed by Giroud and Noiray (1981) and Giroud et al.
(1985) using recent field and laboratory test data. Giroud and Noiray (1981) developed an
empirical solution for unreinforced unpaved roads using field test data and quantified the
benefits resulting from geotextile reinforcement. The solution was based on the limit
equilibrium bearing capacity theory with a modification to consider the benefit of the tension
membrane effect. The Giroud-Han theoretical formulation takes into account the distribution
of stresses, strength of base course material, geogrid-aggregate interlock, and geogrid in-
plane stiffness in addition to conditions considered in earlier methods (traffic volume, wheel
loads, tire pressure, subgrade strength, rut depth and influence of reinforcing geosynthetics of
the failure mode of unpaved roads). The influence of different factors on the theoretical
formulations, the assumptions and the limitations of the Giroud-Han design method are
briefly presented below.

The properties of the base course material are considered in the solution which is an
advancement compared to previous methods. The base course material is characterized by its
CBR using the AASHTO chart for correlation with the resilient modulus for subbase
(AASHTO, 1993).

The subgrade soil is assumed to be saturated and exhibit undrained behavior under traffic
loading. The subgrade soil modulus is used based on correlation between the field CBR and
the field resilient modulus for fine grained soils (Heukelom and Klomp, 1962). Other
relationships can also be used to derive the resilient modulus of the subgrade soil. In the
formulation of the design equation, the ratio of the resilient modulus of base course to
subgrade soil is limited to 5. Additional data are necessary to justify the use of higher values
for stiff geogrids which appear to improve the compaction of base course material even on
very soft subgrades.

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Geosynthetics Engineering 5-31 August 2008
Serviceability Criterion Based on Rut Depth. Failure of the unpaved roads is assumed to
be controlled by the shear failure or the excessive deformation of the subgrade. The
formulation of the design method is based on a typical surface rut depth of 3 in. (75 mm)
which a serviceability criterion. It allows for rut depths between 2 and 4 in. (50 and 100 mm)
to be analyzed. Additional field data are needed to support the use of the method beyond
these limits.

Characterization of Geogrid Reinforcement. The properties of geogrids relate to their


ability to interlock with the base course material and provide confinement. Based on
research by Kinney (1995) and Collin et al. (1996), the aperture stability modulus was the
stiffness property selected, based on correlation with measured performance in roads. The
aperture stability modulus is obtained by measuring the in-plane torsional behavior directly
across the junction of a biaxial geogrid. It is a direct measure of the in-plane stiffness and
stability of the ribs and junctions of the geogrid. The method was calibrated using data for
stiff biaxial geogrids with aperture stability modulus of 0.32 and 0.65 N-m/deg (Kinney,
2000). In the design method the aperture stability modulus can vary from zero to a
maximum value based on the data used in the calibration (Giroud and Han, 2004b). A draft
test method for determining the aperture stability modulus of a geogrid has been developed
by Kinney (2000) and a standard method is currently under development by ASTM.

Bearing Capacity Factors. The bearing capacity factors for unreinforced unpaved roads as
presented in Section 5.4 ranged from 2.8 to 3.3. Giroud and Han (2004a) adopted a bearing
capacity factor of 3.14 (i.e., π) which is the value of the elastic limit for saturated undrained
subgrade soil for plain-strain and axisymmetric conditions and zero interface shear stress. As
discussed earlier the strike through and the interlock at the geogrid-reinforced interface
resists the lateral movement at the top of the subgrade, and creates inward shear stresses on
the subgrade. The theoretical value of the ultimate bearing capacity factor for axisymmetric
conditions and maximum inward shear stress of 5.71 (i.e., 3π/2) is adopted for the geogrid-
reinforced unpaved roads. For the case when the base course is separated by a geotextile and
there is no interlock, Giroud and Han adopted the value of 5.14 (i.e., π+2) initially proposed
by Giroud and Noiray (1981), which is the ultimate bearing capacity factor for plain-strain
conditions and zero shear stress at the base-subgrade interface.

Equation for Required Thickness of Base Course. The thickness of the base course
material was determined on the basis of the bearing capacity theory to prevent the
development of rut depths exceeding the predetermined serviceability criterion. The
deformation of the subgrade depends on the stresses applied at the base-subgrade interface
and the development of the rut depth as a function of the stresses at the base-subgrade
interface and the bearing capacity of the subgrade. The influence of traffic, properties of

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base course material, and geogrid properties are expressed through two important parameters
– the Bearing Capacity Mobilization Coefficient (m), and the Stress Distribution Angle (α).
The Bearing Capacity Mobilization Coefficient defines the level of mobilized bearing
capacity, which depends on the deflection at the top of subgrade when the surface rutting
reaches the allowable rut depth. The Stress Distribution Angle defines the capability of the
base course material to transfer traffic loads to the subgrade. The effect of traffic and
geogrid on the rate of change of stress distribution angle as the unpaved roads deteriorate
under repeated loading is considered in the formulation.

The following design equation for base course thickness was developed through calibration
and verification with laboratory and field data (Giroud and Han, 2004b):
 
1.5  
 
r P
0.868 + (0.661 − 1.006 J 2 )  log N  
 h  π r 2  (1)
h= − 1 r
[1 + 0.204(RE − 1)] 
 s 
 −  
 r 
2


h 
 f  1 − 0 . 9 e N c f c CBR sg 
  

s
  
where:
(0.661-1.006 J2) > 0
h = required base course thickness (in. or m)
J = aperture stability modulus in metric units (N-m/degree)
P = wheel load (lbs or kN)
r = radius of tire print (in. or m)
N = number of axle passes
RE = modulus ratio = Ebc/Esg = 3.28 CBRbc0.3 / CBRsg ≤ 5
Ebc = base course resilient modulus (psi or MPa})
Esg = subgrade soil resilient modulus (psi or MPa)
CBRbc = aggregate CBR
CBRsg = subgrade CBR
fs = rut depth factor
s = maximum rut depth (in. or m)
Nc = bearing capacity factor
= 3.14 for unreinforced roads
= 5.14 for geotextile reinforced roads
= 5.71 for geogrid reinforced roads
fc = factor relating subgrade CBR to undrained cohesion, cu = 4.3 psi (30 kPa)

Limitations of the Design Method. The validity of the Giroud and Han method is limited
by the following conditions:

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− Rut depth from 2 to 4 in. (50 to 100 mm);
− Field subgrade CBR less than 5;
− Maximum ratio of base course modulus Ebc to subgrade soil modulus Esg of 5;
− Maximum number of passes – Based on the current state of practice, the trafficking for
unpaved roads is limited to 10,000 ESALs.
− The tension membrane effect was not taken into account since it is negligible for rut
depths less than 4 in. (100 mm);
− The influence of geogrid reinforcement is considered through a bearing capacity factor of
Nc = 5.71, and the aperture stability module (J) of geogrid;
− The influence of geotextile reinforcement is considered through a bearing capacity factor
of Nc = 5.14, and aperture stability module equal to zero;
− For the unreinforced unpaved roads, the solution is valid for bearing capacity factor of Nc
= 3.14, and aperture stability module equal to zero;
− Minimum thickness of 4 in. (100 mm) of base course aggregate.
Giroud and Han (2004b) suggest that these limitations may change as additional empirical
data become available.

Design Procedure. The design steps from the previous Section 5-4 should be followed.
Steps 4 – 6 are replaced for a geogrid-reinforced alternative using the Giroud and Han (2004)
procedure as follows:

STEP 4: Preliminary calculations


− Select allowable rut depth depending on the road use
− Calculate the radius of the equivalent rut depth
P
r =
πp
where: P = wheel load (lb or kN)
r = radius of tire contact (in. or m)
p = tire pressure (psi or kN/m2)
− If necessary determine the undrained shear strength of the subgrade soil from available
data or correlations.

STEP 5: Check capacity of subgrade soil to support wheel load without reinforcement
 s 
P h = 0 , unreinf =  π r 2 N c c u

 fs 

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where:
Ph = support capacity of subgrade (lb or kN)
s = the allowable rut depth (in. or mm)
fs = 3 in. (75 mm)
r = radius of tire contact (in. or m)
Nc = 3.14 bearing capacity factor for unreinforced case
cu = subgrade undrained shear strength (psi or kN/m2)

If P < Ph=0, unreinf the subgrade soil can support the wheel load and a minimum thickness of 4
in. (100 mm) base course is recommended to prevent disturbance of the subgrade. If P >
Ph=0, unreinf the use of reinforcement is required and the solution continues to the next step.

STEP 6: Determine the required base course thickness for reinforced or unreinforced roads
using Equation (1). The calculation of the base course thickness requires iteration.
The minimum thickness of the base course is 4 in. (100 mm).

The Giroud and Han method will be illustrated in the example presented in the next section.

5.5-3 Design Examples for Geogrid Reinforced Unpaved Road


The design of geogrid-reinforced unpaved road will be illustrated with two examples. The
first example is based on the Giroud and Han method (2004a,b), where the geogrid
reinforcement benefits are considered through the bearing capacity factor (Nc) and the
aperture stability of the geogrid (J). An important feature of the Giroud and Han is that it can
differentiate the benefits of different types of geogrids.

The second example is based on the Modified Steward et al., 1977 method (USCOE, 2003),
where the geogrid reinforcement benefits are considered only through the bearing capacity
factor, Nc = 5.8, derived from empirical studies for extruded biaxial geogrids under laid with
a geotextile separators.

DESIGN EXAMPLE 1: GIROUD AND HAN METHOD (2004 a, b)

PART I: GEOGRID REINFORCEMENT


Determine an appropriate aggregate thickness for a haul road over weak subgrade that is required for
a highway construction project. Investigate a conventional unreinforced solution and a geogrid-
reinforced alternative, using the Giroud and Han method (2004 a, b) for the given set of design
parameters.

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DESIGN INPUT
Traffic Load:
Axle load = 18 kip (80 kN)
Tire pressure = 80 psi (550 kPa)
Number of axle passes = 5000
Failure Criteria:
Maximum rut depth = 3 in. (75 mm)
Aggregate and Subgrade Soil Strength:
Aggregate fill CBR = 15
Field subgrade CBR = 1
Geosynthetic Reinforcement:
Extruded Biaxial Geogrid with Aperture Stability Modulus, J = 0.32 N-m/degree
Bearing capacity factors:
Nc = 3.14 for unreinforced road section
Nc = 5.71 for geogrid-reinforced road section

DESIGN CALCULATIONS

STEP 4: PRELIMINARY CALCULATIONS

Wheel load, P = 9,000 lbs (40 kN)


Allowable rut depth, s = 3 in. (75 mm)
40
Radius of tire contact: r= = 0.152 m = 6 in.
3.14 x 550
Ratio of base course modulus to subgrade modulus:
E bc 3.48CBRbc
=
0.3
=
(3.48)(15) 0.3
= 7. 8 > 5
E sg CBR sg (1.0)
The ratio of base course modulus to subgrade modulus of 5 is used in the calculations.

STEP 5: CHECK CAPACITY OF SUBGRADE SOIL TO SUPPORT WHEEL LOAD WITHOUT


REINFORCEMENT
 75 
P h = 0 , unreinf =   π (0 . 152 )2 (3 . 14 )(30 * 1 . 0 ) = 6 . 83 kN
 75 
P = 40 kN > 6.83 kN = Ph, unreinf

The subgrade soil cannot support the wheel load and use of reinforcement is required.

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STEP 6: CALCULATION OF THE REQUIRED BASE COURSE THICKNESS.

Giroud and Han design equation (1) is used to determine the required aggregate thickness (h)
for each of the unreinforced and reinforced cases. In order to calculate a required thickness
using the iterative Giroud-Han equation, it is necessary to substitute for the thickness, h, until
both sides of the equation are numerically the same.

Case 1: Unreinforced Unpaved Road

Using Equation (1) for J = 0, and Nc=3.14, and after two or three iteration cycles the right
side of the equation is approximately the same as the left side for h = 20 in. (505 mm).

 
 
 0.152 
1.5
 
0.868 + 0.661  log 5000  
h=  0.5045   550
− 1 0.152 = 0.5045 m
[1 + 0.204(5 − 1)]    0.152  
2 
 75  −


0.5045   
 1 − 0.9e  3.14 x 30 x 1 
 75  
   

Therefore the calculated thickness for the unreinforced case is 20 in. (510 mm).

Case 2: Unpaved Road Reinforced with Stiff Biaxial Geogrid

Using Equation (1) for J = 0.32 N-m/degree, and Nc = 5.71, and after two or three iteration
cycles the right side of the equation is approximately the same as the left side for h = 12 in.
(300 mm).
 
 
 
( )
1 .5
 0 .152 
0 .868 + 0 .661 − 1 .006 x 0 .32 2   log 5000  
 0 .3054   550
h= − 1  0.152 = 0 .3054 m
[1 + 0.204 (5 − 1)]    0 .152  
−
2 
 75  
 0 .3054   5 .71 x 30 x 1

 1 − 0 . 9 e 
 75  

 
 

The calculated thickness for the geogrid reinforced unpaved road is 12 in. (300 mm).

For J = 0, and Nc = 5.14, Equation (1) can be used to calculate the required base course
thickness for the case of geotextile-reinforced unpaved road. In this case the required
thickness will be 14 in. (360 mm).

STEP 7: SELECT BASE COURSE THICKNESS.

The geogrid-reinforced option for the unpaved road has been selected for:
Aggregate thickness = 12 in. (300 mm)

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STEP 8: SUBGRADE SEPARATION

Use of a geotextile separator is recommended unless the aggregate meets the natural filter
criteria for the subgrade. For the geotextile requirements, see Step 8 in Section 5-4.

The application of filter criteria for the case of geogrid-reinforced unpaved roads is illustrated
in the following calculation for subgrade separation (Cedergren, 1989, Berg et al., 2000). It
was discussed in Section 5.3-4 that the geogrid-aggregate interlock prevents the relative
movement of the soil particles and therefore further reduces the possibility of migration of
fine particles into the coarser material. In addition to the effect of proper gradations, there is
an effect of reduced pressures and deflections in the subgrade that results of the mechanical
interlock and lateral confinement of the aggregate provided by the geogrid. However, the
separation function of the geogrid has not been quantified, and if the natural filter gradation
requirements are not met, a geotextile separator should be specified.

DESIGN INPUT FOR SUBGRADE SEPARATION

The proposed unpaved road will be built on fine-grained subgrade, and aggregate material
from two different sources has been considered. In order to prevent contamination of the
base aggregate, for each of the aggregate sources, check the potential for migration of the
subgrade soil particles under the mechanical action of construction and operating traffic.

The following information has been provided by the geotechnical engineer for the existing
subgrade soil and the two aggregate materials that are being considered:

Aggregate
Soil Subgrade
Option 1 Option 2
ML SP-SC SP
Classification per USCS Low plasticity silt Poorly graded sand Poorly graded
with sand with clay and gravel sand with gravel
3 in. (75 mm) 100 97 97
No. 4 (4.75 mm) 88 71 77
Gradation
No. 40 (0.425 mm) - 28 39
(%
No. 200 (0.075 mm) 78 11 4
Passing)
No. 400 (0.038 mm) 41 - -
0.01 mm 5 - -
LL 33 32 -
Plasticity
PI 4 16 Non Plastic
Coefficient of Uniformity, Cu - 4.8 5.4
Coefficient of Curvature, Cc - 2.9 3.6

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SUBGRADE SEPARATION CHECK USING NATURAL FILTER CRITERIA

The subgrade soil has been identified by the geotechnical engineer as Low Plasticity Silt with
Sand (ML) and the following filter criteria apply (Cedergren, 1989):
D15Fill
D85 Subgrade
≤5 and
D50Fill
D50 Subgrade
≤ 25

The calculations for both options are presented in the following table:

Aggregate
Subgrade
Option 1 Option 2
Soil Type
ML SP-SC SP
Low plasticity Sand with clay and Sand with gravel
silt with sand gravel (poorly graded) (poorly graded)
D15 - 0.11 0.13
Characteristic Particle
D50 0.045 1.46 0.86
Size (mm)
D85 1.37 - -
Piping Ratio = (D15 Fill)/(D85 Subgrade) - 0.08 0.1
(D50 Fill)/(D50 Subgrade) - 32 19

Aggregate Option 1: Sand with Clay and Gravel (SP-SC)


D15Fill
D85 Subgrade
= 0.1 ≤ 5 (OK )
D50Fill
D50 Subgrade
= 32.5 > 25 ( not satisfied)
The calculation for Aggregate Option 1 indicates that the filter gradation requirements are not
satisfied and there is a potential for migration of fine particles from the silty soil subgrade
into the aggregate layer. If this material is selected, a layer of filter fabric meeting the
requirements of the AASHTO M288 specification is recommended for separation.

Aggregate Option 2: Sand with Gravel (SP)


D15Fill
D85 Subgrade
= 0.1 ≤ 5 (OK )
D50Fill
D50 Subgrade
= 19.0 < 25 ( OK )
The calculation for Aggregate Option 2 indicates that the filter gradation requirements are
satisfied and migration of fine particles into the aggregate layer will not occur.

SELECTED AGGREGATE
Based on the above analysis, Aggregate Option 2, the sand with gravel (SP) is selected.
Additional measures for subgrade separation are not required.

STEPS 9 and 10: SPECIFY GEOGRID PROPERTIES.


See Table 5-5 and Section 5.9-2.

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STEP 11: SPECIFY CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS.
(See Section 5.8.)

DESIGN EXAMPLE 2: MODIFIED STEWART ET AL. (1977) BASED ON USCOE (2003)


Step 5 – 9 of the example in Section 5.4-1 will be reworked for a geogrid-reinforced alternative using
the modified Stewart et al. (1977) based on USCOE (2003) for the given set of design parameters.

STEPS 1 – 4: DESIGN INPUT


Subgrade Soil :
Field CBR = 1; c = 600 psf (30 kPa)
Traffic Load:
Axle load = 18 kips (80 kN)
Tire pressure = 80 psi (550 kPa)
Number of axle passes = 5000
Failure Criteria :
Maximum rut depth = 3 in. (75 mm)
Geosynthetic Reinforcement:
Stiff Biaxial Geogrid

DESIGN CALCULATIONS

STEP 5: OBTAIN BEARING CAPACITY FACTOR


Bearing capacity factors (From USCOE,2003):
Nc = 2.8 for unreinforced road section
Nc = 5.8 for geogrid-reinforced road section

STEP 6A: REQUIRED AGGREGATE THICKNESS FOR UNREINFORCED ROAD SECTION

Using Figure 5-6 (see below), the required aggregate thickness is as follows:

c⋅Nc = 600 psf x 2.8 = 1,680 psf = 11.7 psi


tunreinf = 19 in. (475 mm)

STEP 6B: REQUIRED AGGREGATE THICKNESS FOR GEOGRID-REINFORCED ROAD


SECTION

Using Figure 5-6 (see below), the required aggregate thickness is as follows:

c⋅Nc = 600 psf x 5.8 = 3,480 psf = 24.1 psi


tgeogrid-reinf = 12 inches (300 mm)

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Figure 5-6 (redrawn) Aggregate-surfaced pavement design curves for single-wheel roads
(after Figure 4, USCOE 2003)

STEP 7: SELECT DESIGN THICKNESS

Use 12 in. (300 mm) and a layer of geogrid placed on top of the subgrade.

STEP 8: CHECK SUBGRADE SEPARATION.

The initial design assumed that a geotextile be used beneath the geogrid as a separator. However,
upon detailed examination it was found that for the selected aggregate and subgrade soils, the
filter criteria are satisfied and migration of fine particles is not anticipated. Therefore, a
geotextile separator is not required. (To check subgrade separation refer to the analysis in Part II
of Example 1, and to Section 5.3-4)

STEP 9 & 10: SPECIFY GEOGRID PROPERTIES.

See Table 5-5 and Section 5.9-2.

STEP 11: SPECIFY CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS.


See Section 5.8.

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5.6 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR USE OF GEOTEXTILES IN PERMANENT
PAVED ROADWAYS

As indicated in Section 5-1 and 5-2, geotextiles can be used to improve the performance of
permanent roads:
• as separation layers,
• in conjunction with gravel as a form of mechanical stabilization of the subgrade
and/or the base course layers, and
• to improve drainage.

In this section, design guidance is provided for each of the these application areas.

5.6-1 Separation
Separation design is straight forward.

STEP 1. Assess the need for a geotextile separator.


Determine if subgrade conditions warrant the use of a geotextile separator. Referring to
Sections 5-1 and 5-2.

STEP 2. Determine geotextile survivability and opening requirements.


Check the geotextile strength requirements for survivability as discussed in Section 5.3
and listed in Table 5-4.

The maximum opening and minimum permittivity requirements are also listed in Table 5-
4 and should be evaluated with respect to filtration requirements when geotextile is used
as separation for open graded or otherwise free draining base layers as follows:

AOS < D85 subgrade (Wovens) (Eq. 2-3)


AOS < 1.8 D85 subgrade (Nonwovens) (Eq. 2-4)
kgeotextile > ksoil (Eq. 2-7a)

STEP 3. Specify geotextiles that meet or exceed those survivability criteria.

STEP 4. Follow the construction recommendations in Section 5.8.

5.6-2 Stabilization
The recommended design method for using geotextiles for permanent pavements is that
developed by Christopher and Holtz (1985; 1991). It is based on the following concepts:
1. Standard methods are used to design the pavement system (i.e., AASHTO, CBR, R-
value, resilient modulus, etc.).
2. The geotextile is assumed to provide no structural support, therefore, no reduction is
allowed in aggregate thickness required for structural support.

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3. Aggregate savings is achieved through a reduction in the stabilization aggregate
required for construction and possibly through improved subgrade conditions.
4. The recommended method is used to design the first construction lift, which is called
the stabilization lift since it sufficiently stabilizes the subgrade to allow access by
normal construction equipment.
5. Once the stabilizer lift is completed, construction proceeds using the stabilized lift as
the roadbed surface layer.

The design of the geotextile for stabilization is completed using the design-by-function
approach in conjunction with AASHTO M288 in the steps outlined below. The conventional
design method assumes that the stabilizer lift is an unpaved road which will be exposed to
relatively few vehicle passes (i.e., construction equipment only) and which can tolerate 2 in
to 3 in. (50 to 75 mm) of rutting under the equipment loads. A key feature of this method is
the assumption that the structural pavement design is not modified at all in the procedure.
The pavement design proceeds exactly according to standard procedures as if the geotextile
was not present. The geotextile instead replaces additional unbound material that might be
placed to support construction operations, and replaces no part of the pavement section itself.
However, this unbound layer will provide some additional support. If the soil has a CBR of
less than 3 and the aggregate thickness is determined based on a low rutting criteria in the
following steps (i.e., rutting < 2 in. {50 mm} using an Nc = 5.0), the support for the
composite system is theoretically equivalent to a CBR = 3 (resilient modulus ≈ 4500 psi {30
MPa}). The equivalent CBR = 3 is based on a conservative soil strength value in Figures 5-
6, 5-7 and 5-8 where low rutting would be anticipated with a geotextile and no gravel. As
with thick aggregate fill used for stabilization, the support value should be confirmed though
field testing using for example, a plate load test or FWD to verify that a minimum composite
subgrade modulus has been achieved. Note that the FHWA procedure is controlled by soil
CBR as measured using ASTM D 4429 “Bearing Ratio of Soils In-Place,” which should be
performed on the wettest, weakest soil condition anticipated during construction, or a
saturated soaked laboratory CBR test (ASTM D1883) for predicting the performance of soils
that will likely be wet during construction.

The design consists of the following steps:


STEP 1. Assess the subgrade conditions.
Identify properties of the subgrade, including CBR, depth of groundwater table,
AASHTO and/or USCS classification, and sensitivity.

STEP 2. Assess need for geotextile.


Estimate the need for a geotextile based on the subgrade strength (CBR ≤ 3) and by
past performance in similar types of soils.

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STEP 3. Design pavement without a geotextile.
Design the roadway for structural support using normal pavement design methods;
provide no allowance for the geotextile.

STEP 4. Determine need for additional aggregate.


Determine the need for additional imported aggregate to ameliorate mixing at the
base/subgrade interface due to susceptibility of soils to pumping and base course
intrusion. Use local practice or see Figure 5-9 to determine if additional aggregate above
that required for structural support is needed. If so, determine its thickness, t1, and reduce
the thickness by 50% and include a geotextile at the base/subgrade interface.

Figure 5-9. Aggregate loss to weak subgrades (Christopher and Holtz, 1989).

STEP 5. Determine aggregate depth required to support construction equipment.


Determine the additional aggregate thickness t2 required for stabilization of the subgrade
during construction activities from Figures 5-7 or 5-8. Select Nc based on allowable
subgrade ruts for the anticipated construction equipment. Refer to the procedures
outlined in Section 5.4, where:

Nc = 5 for small rutting (< 2 in. {< 50 mm}),


Nc = 5.5 for moderate rutting (2 to 4 in. {50 to 100 mm}), and
Nc = 6 for large rutting (> 4 in. {> 150 mm}).
(For comparison, without a geotextile: Nc = 2.8, 3.0, or 3.3, respectively, for small to
large ruts.)

Alternatively, local policies or charts may be used.

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Note: As previously indicated, if a lower rutting criteria of < 2 in. (50 mm) is used, there
is a potential to improve subgrade support conditions to an equivalent CBR of 3
((resilient modulus of 4500 psi {30 MPa}) for pavement design, provided field tests (e.g.,
Falling Weight Deflectometer, FWD, tests on a trial section) are performed to confirm
the improved support conditions.

STEP 6. Compare thicknesses.


Compare the aggregate-geotextile system thicknesses determined in Steps 4 and 5. Select
the greater of t2 (from Step 5) or 50% t1 (from Step 4).

STEP 7. Check geotextile filtration requirements.


Check the geotextile filtration characteristics using the gradation and permeability of the
subgrade, the water table conditions, and the retention and permeability criteria. From
Chapter 2, that criteria is:
AOS < D85 (Wovens) (Eq. 2-3)
AOS < 1.8 D85 (Nonwovens) (Eq. 2-4)
kgeotextile > ksoil (Eq. 2-7a)
ψ > 0.1 sec-1 (Eq. 2-8c)

STEP 8. Determine geotextile survivability requirements.


Check the geotextile strength requirements for survivability as discussed in Section 5.3-6.

STEP 9. Specify geotextiles that meet or exceed those survivability criteria.

STEP 10. Follow the construction recommendations in Section 5.8.

5.6-3 Permanent Road Subgrade Stabilization Design Example (Christopher and


Holtz, 1991)

DEFINITION OF DESIGN EXAMPLE

• Project Description: New public street and service drive for a suburban Washington, D.C.,
townhouse development. State of Virginia DOT regulations apply.
• Type of Structure: Category IV street (permanent road)
• Type of Application: stabilization with geotextiles
• Alternatives: i) excavate unsuitable material and increase subgrade aggregate
thickness; or
ii.) geotextile between aggregate and subgrade

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GIVEN DATA
• subgrade - surficial soils: micaceous silts (CBR = 2)
- local areas of very poor soils)
- low-lying topography
- poor drainage
- other nearby streets and roads require frequent maintenance
• traffic - maximum 300 vehicles per day
- 96% passenger, 5% single-axle, 1 multiaxle
- equivalent daily 18,000 lbf (80 kN) single-axle load (EAL) applications = 10
• geotextile - a geotextile was used for this project

REQUIRED

Design the pavement section.


Consider: 1) standard AASHTO design; and 2) alternate with geotextile

DEFINE

A. Geotextile function(s):
B. Geotextile properties required:
C. Geotextile specification:

SOLUTION

A. Geotextile function(s):
Primary - separation and filtration
Secondary - reinforcement

B. Geotextile properties required:


survivability
apparent opening size (AOS)
permeability

DESIGN Design pavement with and without geotextile inclusion. Compare options.

STEP 1. ESTIMATE NEED FOR GEOTEXTILE

Ideal conditions for considering a geotextile; e.g., low CBR, saturated subgrade, and poor
performance history with conventional design.

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STEP 2. DESIGN WITHOUT GEOTEXTILE

The structural design for the pavement section was based on the AASHTO Guide for Design of
Pavement Structures (1972) using an equivalent design structural number for the anticipated
loading and soil support conditions. (NOTE: this case history used the AASHTO guide, 1972,
which was current at time of design. Today we would use AASHTO guide, 1993.)

For the traffic - as given, determine structural number, SN:


from AASHTO design charts for 20 years, CBR = 2, EAL = 10, and Regional Factor = 2
SN is equal to 2.9

Compute pavement thickness for structural support on a stable subgrade (i.e., no fines pumped
into aggregate subbase and no aggregate loss down into the subgrade):

Assume 2.5 inches asphaltic concrete surface and 8 inches aggregate base course

surface + base + subbase


SN = a1 D1 + a2 D2 + a3 D3
2.9 = 0.4 x 2.5 in. + 0.14 x 8 in. + 0.13 x D3

Therefore, D3 = 6 inches (150 mm) required for subbase.

Structural design: 2.5 in. (65 mm) asphaltic concrete


8 in. (200 mm) aggregate base
6 in. (150 mm) aggregate subbase

STEP 3. ADDITIONAL AGGREGATE FOR PUMPING AND INTRUSION

By local experience in this area, and for subgrades of CBR ≈ 2, an additional 8 in. (200 mm) of
aggregate subbase is required (stabilization aggregate).

For the geotextile stabilization alternate, this entire stabilization layer could be eliminated.
However, some very poor soils are anticipated, and some conservatism can be applied.
Therefore, reduce subbase aggregate thickness to 4 inches (100 mm) with use of a geotextile
separator.

Total design base/subbase thickness without geotextile = 8 in. + 6 in. + 8 in. = 22 in. (560 mm)
Total trial base/subbase thickness with geotextile = 8 in. + 6 in. + 4 in. = 18 in. (460 mm)

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STEP 4. DESIGN FOR CONSTRUCTABILITY USING A GEOTEXTILE

Use temporary road design procedures.

Assume:
CBR = 2
loaded dump trucks
< 100 passes
2 in. (50 mm) rut depth acceptable

Use Figure 5-7 (use 40 kN load) and


c = 600 psf (30 kPa) x CBR
= 1200 psf (60 kPa)
Nc = 6
c⋅Nc = 7500 psf (360 kPa)
aggregate depth = 4 in. (100 mm)

STEP 5. COMPARE THE THICKNESSES DETERMINED IN STEPS 3 AND 4

The two thicknesses are equal; therefore, use 4 in. (100 mm) of stabilization aggregate with a
geotextile separator.

Note that the minimum recommended thickness of aggregate for a construction over a geotextile
is 6 in. (150 mm), therefore the contractor should be required to place an initial subbase lift
thickness of 6 in. (150 mm) or greater (i.e., up to the required 10 in. {250 mm} subbase thickness
depending on the minimum compaction lift thickness requirements).

STEP 6. CHECK GEOTEXTILE FILTRATION CHARACTERISTICS

Silt type soils have > 50% passing the No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve.
-1
Therefore, per Table 5-3 use AOS < 0.3 mm and permittivity ≥ 0.1 sec .
The permeability of geotextile must be > the soil permeability per Table 5-3. The estimate silt
type soil permeability is ~10-5 cm/sec, therefore, a geotextile permeability > 10-5 cm/sec is
required; however, all geotextiles will meet this low permeability value and permittivity controls.

STEP 7. DETERMINE GEOTEXTILE SURVIVABILITY REQUIREMENTS

Use Table 5-2, with CBR = 2, dump truck contact pressure > 7500 psf (350 kPa), and 6 in. (150
mm) cover thickness (note that 4 in. (100 mm) cover is limited to existing road bases, therefore 6
in. (150 mm) minimum compacted lift thickness is recommended), and determine that a
geotextile with a HIGH, or Class 1, survivability rating is required.

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STEP 8. SPECIFY GEOTEXTILE PROPERTY REQUIREMENTS

From Table 5-3; geotextile shall meet or exceed the minimum average roll values, with
elongation at failure determined with the ASTM D 4632 test method, of:

ASTM Elongation Elongation


Property Test Method < 50% > 50%

Grab Strength D 4632 315 lb (1400 N) 200 lb (900 N)


Sewn Seam Strength D 4632 270 lb (1200 N) 180 lb (810 N)
Tear Resistance D 4533 110 lb ( 500N) 80 lb (350 N)
Puncture Strength D 6241 620 lb (2750N) 433 lb (1925 N)
Ultraviolet Stability D 4355 50% strength retained after 500 hours

The geotextile shall have an AOS < 0.3 mm and ψ > 0.1 sec-1.

STEP 9. SPECIFY CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS


See Section 5.8

5.6-4 Improved Drainage


As reviewed in Chapter 2, geotextiles and geocomposites are often incorporated into the
roadway drainage system. There are three distinct applications of geosynthetics in drainage
systems:
1. Geotextiles as filters for the edge drains, underdrains, and free draining base
2. Geocomposites (placed vertical) as edge drains
3. Geocomposites (placed horizontal beneath the base/subbase or pavement) as a
horizontal base drain layer.

The design requirements for the geotextile in each of these applications were covered in
Chapter 2, however, the pavement design with respect to improved drainage and the design
requirements for the drainage system to meet specific levels of improvement were not
reviewed. The benefits of improved drainage in roadway systems is covered in AASHTO
(1986 and 1993) and NCHRP 1-37A pavement design guides.

From the AASHTO Guide (1993), modified layer coefficients determine the treatment for the
expected drainage level for flexible pavements. The factor for modifying the layer
coefficient is referred to as an mi value, thus the structural number (SN) becomes:

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SN = a1 D1 + a 2 D 2 m 2 + a 3 D 3 m 3
where:
D1,D2,D3 = thicknesses of existing pavement surface, base, and
subbase layers;
a1,a2,a3 = corresponding structural layer coefficients; and
m2,m3 = drainage coefficients for granular base and subbase.

The recommended mi values are presented in Table 5-7 as a function of the drainage quality
and the percent of time during the year the pavement structure is near saturation. Definitions
of quality of drainage are presented in Table 5-8.

From the AASHTO guide (1993), the drainage coefficient, Cd, in the performance equation
determines the treatment for the expected drainage level for rigid pavements. The
performance equation is used to calculate a design slab thickness for a rigid pavement.
Recommended values for Cd are presented in Table 5-9.

Table 5-7
Recommended mi Values for Modifying Structural Layer Coefficients
of Untreated Base and Subbase Materials in Flexible Pavements
(from AASHTO, 1993)

Percent of Time Pavement Structure is Exposed


Quality of to Moisture Levels Approaching Saturation
Drainage
<1% 1 to 5 % 5 to 25 % > 25 %
Excellent 1.40 - 1.35 1.35 - 1.30 1.30 - 1.20 1.20
Good 1.35 - 1.25 1.25 - 1.15 1.15 - 1.00 1.00
Fair 1.25 - 1.15 1.15 - 1.05 1.00 - 0.80 0.80
Poor 1.15 - 1.05 1.05 - 0.80 0.80 - 0.60 0.60
Very Poor 1.05 - 0.95 0.95 – 0.75 0.75 - 0.40 0.40

Table 5-8
Quality of Pavement Drainage
(from AASHTO, 1993)

Quality of Drainage Water Removed Within


Excellent 2 hours
Good 1 day
Fair 1 week
Poor 1 month
Very Poor (water will not drain)

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Table 5-9
Recommended Values of Drainage Coefficient, Cd,
for Rigid Pavement Design
(from AASHTO, 1993)

Percent of Time Pavement Structure is Exposed


Quality of to Moisture Levels Approaching Saturation
Drainage
<1% 1 to 5 % 5 to 25 % > 25 %

Excellent 1.25 - 1.20 1.20 - 1.15 1.15 - 1.10 1.10


Good 1.20 - 1.15 1.15 - 1.10 1.10 - 1.00 1.00
Fair 1.15 - 1.10 1.10 - 1.00 1.00 - 0.90 0.90
Poor 1.10 - 1.00 1.00 - 0.90 0.90 - 0.80 0.80
Very Poor 1.00 - 0.90 0.90 - 0.80 0.80 - 0.70 0.70

The NCHRP 1-37A method requires a computer model that is still under development as of
the publication of this manual. However, an initial evaluation of the influence drainage can
be found in NHI Course Number 13204 Geotechnical Aspects of Pavement. Using either the
AASHTO, 1993 or NCHRP 1-37A method, the influence on design can be significant. For
example, in high rainfall areas, the base section of a flexible pavement system (with a
relatively thick base layer) can be reduced in thickness by as much as a factor of two, or the
design life extended by an equivalent amount, if excellent drainage is provided versus poor
drainage. Likewise, an improvement in drainage leads to a reduction in Portland cement
concrete (PCC) slab thickness.

The design of the system components to meet specific level of improvement are well covered
in NHI Course Number 131026 on Pavement Subsurface Drainage Design, NHI Course
Number 13204 Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements, and the associated reference manuals
(ERES, 1999 and Christopher et al., 2006).

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5.7 DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR USE OF GEOGRIDS IN PERMANENT PAVED
ROADWAYS

Geogrid reinforcement is used in permanent paved roadways in two major application areas –
base reinforcement and subgrade stabilization. In base reinforcement applications, the
geogrids are placed within or at the bottom of unbound layers of a flexible pavement system
and improve the load-carrying capacity of the pavement under repeated traffic. In subgrade
stabilization applications, the geogrids are used to build a construction platform over weak
subgrades (CBR ≤ 3) to carry equipment and facilitate the construction of the pavement
system without excessive deformations of the subgrade. The design guidelines for use of
geogrids in subgrade stabilization applications are discussed in Section 5.5. The current
design practice and the recent developments for the use of geogrids in base reinforcement
applications are discussed in this section (Holtz et al., 1998; Berg et al., 2000; AASHTO,
2001; Perkins et al., 2005a; Gabr et al., 2006).

The state of practice for design of geogrid-reinforced base courses in flexible pavements is in
accordance with the AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures (1993 or earlier
editions) and the AASHTO Provisional Standard PP 46-01 “Recommended Practice for
Geosynthetic Reinforcement of the Aggregate Base Course of Flexible Pavement Structures”
(2001). The AASHTO (1993) method, and its regional adaptations, is widely used by
pavement designers in various public agencies and private companies. It is empirically-
based and models the flexible pavement as a series of layers which have a combined
structural capacity to carry a certain number of traffic loads (ESAL’s) with pre-determined
minimum levels of serviceability and statistical confidence. Based on the AASHTO, 1993
design guide, the overall structural contribution of geosynthetic reinforcement is considered
in the design through either of the following factors that are derived from empirical product-
specific data:
− Traffic Benefit Ratio (TBR) – the ratio of the number of load applications necessary to
reach a specific failure state in a geosynthetic-reinforced pavement to the number of load
applications required to reach the same failure state in an unreinforced section (i.e., the
same pavement section but without reinforcement).
− Base Course Reduction Factor (BCR) – the percent reduction in the thickness of base or
subbase material in a reinforced pavement compared to an unreinforced one, given that
the trafficking capacity for a defined failure state remains the same.

To assess and characterize the appropriate TBR or BCR values, the user is advised to refer to
product-specific studies and test sections that demonstrate the value added by the
geosynthetic reinforcement in pavement structures. The base course reinforcement

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specifications established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, 1994) recommend
evaluation of alternative materials based on full-scale trials, independent certified test results
for performance based geogrid properties, and successful performance demonstrated in
projects of comparable size and application, and verified after a minimum of one year of
service life. As discussed earlier, the lack of such data often limits the use of geogrid
reinforcement in flexible pavements.

A major initiative in the area of pavement design was the AASHTO decision to develop and
subsequently adopt a mechanistic-empirical (M-E) method for design of pavement systems.
The initiative was conceived in the early 1990’s and led by AASHTO committees with the
help of research institutions. While the M-E Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) has recently
been officially adopted by AASHTO (2008), some work is still ongoing (NCHRP, 2008). In
the original scope of the M-E Design Guide, geosynthetics materials have not been included
but the opportunity to utilize the M-E concept to rationalize the design has been recognized
by the geosynthetics community. A series of research projects designed to define and
quantify the benefits of geosynthetics within the M-E design framework had been initiated
and the results to date are promising (Perkins et al., 2004; Perkins et al., 2005b; Kwon et al.,
2005; Al-Qadi et al., 2007; Al-Qadi et al., 2008).

The AASHTO PP 46-01 guidelines for use of geosynthetic reinforcement in aggregate base
courses of flexible pavements, and the recent developments based on the M-E concept are
presented in the subsequent section.

5.7-1 Empirical Design Method from AASHTO PP 46-01 (2001)


AASHTO PP 46-01 (2001) provides guidelines for design of geogrid-reinforced base courses
in flexible pavements. The guidelines are empirical in nature and the design steps follow a
procedure that was initially reported by Berg et al. (2000).

In the AASHTO, 1993 Guide, pavement design is based on a reference to the serviceability
of the pavement system expressed through measurements of roughness and different types of
distress (cracking, rutting, etc.). The load carrying capacity of a pavement is expressed with
the number of equivalent standard axial loads (ESALs) at which the permanent deformation
at the surface reaches specific value (allowable rut depth). The number of equivalent
standard axial loads (ESALs) is calculated using the AASHTO, 1993 equation shown below.
 ∆PSI 
log10  
log10 (W18 ) = Z R S o + 9.36 log10 ( SN + 1) − 0.20 +  4.2 − 1.5  + 2.32 log M − 8.07
1094 10 R
(5.7-1)
0.40 +
( SN + 1) 5.19

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Where:
W18 = Allowable trafficking (ESAL’s)
ZR = Standard Normal Deviate; based on Table 4.1 in Part I of the AASHTO
(1993) guidelines, for a Reliability of 95%, the Standard Normal Deviate,
ZR = -1.282.
So = Standard Deviation = 0.49
SN = Structural Number
∆PSI = Change in present Serviceability Index
MR = Resilient Modulus of subgrade or base being considered (psi)

Using Equation 5.7-1, the Traffic Benefit Ratio (TBR) can be applied directly to the
calculated number of ESALs or can be used to adjust the structural number. The Base
Course Reduction Factor (BCR) is used to directly reduce the required thickness of the
unreinforced base course. It is recommended that agencies with limited experience with
geosynthetic reinforcement primarily use the reinforcement to improve the service life of
pavement structures, and limit reduction of the structural section until more experience is
gained (Berg et al., 2000).

Design Procedure
The design steps for use of geosynthetic base reinforcement for flexible pavements are
outlined below. For details refer to Berg et al. (2000).

Step 1: Initial assessment of geosynthetic applicability


Requires assessment of: subgrade strength, aggregate thickness required for
unreinforced section, characteristic of base/subbase materials, seasonal variation in
moisture levels, reinforcing mechanisms and value added by geosynthetics.

Step 2: Design of unreinforced pavement section


Using an established method for design of unreinforced pavements, the structural
layers, the type of material, and the thicknesses are determined for a pavement section
without geosynthetics.

Step 3: Investigate potential benefits of using geosynthetics reinforcement


Requires review of available data to define potential and target benefits for the
specific project. The conditions for which various geosynthetic products should be
considered for this application are summarized in Table 5-10.

Step 4: Define reinforcement benefits in terms of Traffic Benefit Ratio (TBR) or Base Course
Reduction Factor (BCR)
Requires review of successful applications, field studies, and lab test results.

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Table 5-10
Qualitative Review of Reinforcement Application Potential for Paved Permanent Roads
(after Berg et al., 2000).
Roadway Design
Conditions Geosynthetic Type
Base / Geotextile Geogrid 2 GG-GT Composite
Subbase Knitted Open
Subgrade Well Graded
Thickness1 Nonwoven Woven Extruded or Graded
(mm) 3 Base
Woven Base
Soft 150 – 300 Û   “  Ò
(CBR < 3)
(MR <30 MPa) > 300 Û Û ™ ™ ™ Ò
Firm - Very Stiff 150 – 300  ™  “  Ò
(3 ≤ CBR ≤ 8)
(30 ≤ MR ≤ 80) > 300      
KEY: ● — usually applicable ™— applicable for some conditions
❍ — usually not applicable “ — insufficient information at this time ÛÒ— see note
NOTES: 1. Total base or subbase thickness with geosynthetic reinforcement. Reinforcement may be placed at
bottom of base or subbase, or within base for thicker (usually > 12 in {300 mm})) thicknesses.
Thicknesses less than 6 in. (150 mm) not recommended for construction over soft subgrades.
Placement of less than 6 in. (150 mm) over a geosynthetic not recommended.
2. For open graded base or thin bases over wet, fine grained subgrades, a separation geotextile should be
considered with geogrid reinforcement.
3. Potential assumes base placed directly on subgrade. A subbase also may provide filtration.
Û Reinforcement usually applicable, but typically addressed as subgrade stabilization.
Ò Geotextile component of composite likely is not required for filtration with a well graded base course,
therefore, composite reinforcement usually not applicable.

Step 5: Design of reinforced pavement section


The use of the Traffic Benefit Ratio (TBR) for design of reinforced pavement section
based on AASHTO, 1993 Guide is illustrated in the design example, Section 5.7-4.

Step 6: Cost-benefit analysis


Evaluation of benefits in terms of reduction in initial construction cost or reduction in
life cycle costs can be used to justify the use of geosynthetics depending on the
priorities of the user.

Step 7 - 8: Develop specifications, bid documents and construction drawings

Step 9: Monitor construction and document performance

The AASHTO PP 46-01 document and Berg et al., 2000 provide guidelines and represent the
state of practice for design of geogrid-reinforced base courses in flexible pavements.

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5.7-2 Mechanistic-Empirical Approach for Pavement Design
As mentioned above, the initiative to adopt a mechanistic-empirical (M-E) method for design
of pavement systems has been gaining momentum over the last decades, and the concept was
included in the AASHTO, 1993, Pavement Design Guide. Since then the NCHRP Project 1-
37A Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) (AASHTO, 2008) has been
completed along with the supporting software (MP-PDG, Version 1.00,
www.trb.org/mepdg/software.htm). The MEPDG approach is shown in Figure 5-10.

(a)

New Features Existing Features

Shear Interaction Asphalt Concrete

Reinforcement Layer Unbound Aggregate Material


Models
Subgrade

Accompanying
material models

(b) 82
Figure 5-10: Mechanistic-Empirical (M-E) Pavement Design Method showing: a) M-E
concept (FHWA/DGIT), and b) modified response model for inclusion of reinforcement.

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The major steps of the MEPDG are (AASHTO, 2008):
− Selection of pavement structure (layers, type of materials, thicknesses);
− Characterization of climate, traffic, and materials for the specific project location;
− Analysis of the mechanistic model of the pavement structure
− Calculation of critical responses (stresses, strains)
− Evaluation of the accumulated damage and associated distress with reference to preset
criteria.
− The design may require several iterations considering different pavement structures.
Design is completed when for a specific section the distress levels do not exceed the
acceptable levels for the design life of the structure.

Important components of the MEPDG method are (1) a mechanistic model to calculate the
critical responses of the system, and (2) empirical performance or damage models that relate
the critical responses to the accumulated damage and distress levels. The development of a
mechanistic response model based on the finite element method that account for the
influence of reinforcement on the surrounding base aggregate has been the focus of several
studies.

Recently FHWA sponsored a study at Montana State University in cooperation with the
Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish National Road Administrations to develop an interface for
including geosynthetic base reinforcement in mechanistic empirical design, consistent with
the MEPDG model (Perkins et al., 2004). The mechanistic model developed from this study
consists of a compaction module and three subsequent trafficking response modules to
describe the effect of geogrid reinforcement during the initial construction operations and in-
service traffic loading. An empirical damage model was first developed for the permanent
deformation accumulation of the unbound aggregate layer within a zone influenced by the
geogrid reinforcement. The compaction module treated the developed lateral stress due to
geogrid reinforcement as the stress developed in the presence of the permanent interface
shear stress (Perkins and Svano, 2004). Then, the finite element response models were
utilized at several damage steps to account for the effect of increasing lateral confinement
with increasing traffic load repetitions. The combined use of these response models with the
empirical damage model resulted in a rational method for showing the benefit of geogrid
reinforcement and evaluating the performance of reinforced pavements. Important feature of
the developed mechanistic model is that it has been partially calibrated using available full
scale test data and is based on laboratory test methods that are under development by ASTM
(Perkins et al., 2005).

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Another mechanistic response model that accounts for the confinement effects in geogrid-
reinforced flexible pavements was developed by a research team at the University of Illinois
(Kwon et al., 2005 and 2007, Al-Qadi et al., 2008). The effects of interlock between the
aggregate and geogrid were simulated by considering locked-in horizontal residual stresses in
the granular base as initial stresses in the pavement response analysis. Increased confinement
resulted in this stiffening effect above and below the geogrid reinforcement and the predicted
modulus values were shown to increase significantly especially around the geogrid. The
developed mechanistic model can be used as main structural analysis model for mechanistic
based design of base reinforcement as well as for FWD back calculation. The developed
mechanistic model has been partially calibrated using available test data (Al-Qadi et al., 2007
and 2008).

The distress models are the other major component of the M-E based solution and they relate
the critical responses to the accumulated damage and distress levels. The development of
distress models requires instrumented full-scale sections that are trafficked until failure.
Perkins et al., (2005) reported that several research groups have conducted studies and
significant progress has been made in some areas; however, the calibration of performance
models requires significant investments in order to advance the implementation of the M-E
design procedure in base course reinforcement applications.

5.7-3 Design Example for Geogrid Reinforced Paved Roadway

DEFINITION OF DESIGN EXAMPLE


• Project Description:
A 30-mile (48 km) section of a two-lane state highway is scheduled for reconstruction. The
initial traffic estimates indicated 1,000,000 equivalent single axle loads (ESALs) over the 20 year
performance period based on a 2% growth factor. The geotechnical evaluation indicates that the
subgrade soil is low plastic clay (CL) with CBR= 4, Mr = 6000 psi (40 MPa).

Due to budget constraints, high cost of local aggregate and environmental concerns, the owner is
considering the use of geogrid reinforcement to either reduce the thickness of the base course or
extend the performance period of the pavement structure. The type of application proposed for
consideration is geogrid base reinforcement. A 1-mile (1.6 km) section is scheduled for
reconstruction to help establish the design criteria for the future reconstruction of the entire
roadway section.

• Design Alternatives:
(I) Unreinforced conventional roadway section with a 20 year design life
(II) Geogrid reinforcement in the base layer to extend the performance period.
(III) Geogrid reinforcement in the base layer to reduce the initial cost of construction by
reducing the required base course thickness (20 year design life).

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REQUIRED
Design of flexible pavement section for the three alternatives based on AASHTO, 1993 Design Guide
and AASHTO PP 46-01 Standard of Practice, Geosynthetic Reinforcement of the Aggregate Base
Course of Flexible Pavement Structures.

DESIGN

STEP 1. INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF BASE REINFORCEMENT APPLICABILITY.

A. In-situ strength of subgrade soil: Low plastic clay (CL)


CBR= 4, Mr = 6000 psi (40 MPa), moderate strength

B. Typical thickness of unreinforced base course for local conditions

C. Estimated thickness of geogrid reinforced base course for comparable conditions.

D. Evaluation of separation and drainage conditions

E. Upon detailed examination it was found that for aggregates from local sources and subgrade
soils, the filter criteria are satisfied and migration of fine particles is unlikely. Therefore, a
geotextile separator is not required. (For subgrade separation design refer to the analysis in
Part II of Example 1 in Section 5.5 and to Section 5.3-4). For the local conditions and free
draining aggregated base, the drainage coefficient is m = 1.2.

F. From Table 5-1 and Table 5-10, for a CBR of 4, extruded geogrid reinforcement is selected
for this application.

STEP 2. DESIGN OF THE UNREINFORCED PAVEMENT SECTION – ALTERNATIVE I.

The unreinforced pavement design cross section will be evaluated using the equation from the
AASHTO, 1993 design guide.
 ∆ PSI 
log 10  
log 10 (W18 ) = Z R S o + 9 .36 log 10 ( SN + 1) − 0 .20 +  4 .2 − 1 .5  + 2 .32 log M − 8 .07
10 R
1094
0 .40 +
( SN + 1) 5 .19

Where:
W18 = Allowable trafficking (ESAL’s)
ZR = Standard Normal Deviate; based on Table 4.1 in Part I of the AASHTO
(1993) guidelines, for a Reliability of 95%, the Standard Normal Deviate, ZR = -1.282.
So = Standard Deviation = 0.49
SN = Structural Number
∆PSI = Change in Present Serviceability Index = 4.2 – 2.0 = 2.2
MR = Resilient Modulus of subgrade or base being considered (psi) = 6000 psi

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The pertinent data and the corresponding structural numbers for the unreinforced pavement
section are as follows:
Layer Drainage Structural
Thickness,
Layer Material Type coefficient, coefficient, number
t (in.)
ai mi (t x ai x mi)
Asphalt wearing
1 1.0 0.42 N/A 0.42
course
2 Asphalt binder 2.5 0.40 N/A 1.0
Aggregate base
3 11.0 0.14 1.2 1.85
course
4 Subbase course 6.0 0.10 0.7 0.42
Overall structural number: 3.69

The calculated traffic for the unreinforced section based on the AASHTO, 1993 equation is
1,100,000 ESALs, which meets the design traffic of 1,000,000 ESALs and the unreinforced
section meets the design requirements.

STEP 3. Qualitative benefits of geogrid reinforcement.

Two main benefits of the geogrid reinforcement will be considered:


− extended life of the pavement (i.e., additional vehicle passes), and
− reduced base aggregate thickness (i.e., reduced undercut, aggregate quantities and initial
construction cost)

STEP 4. Geogrid reinforcement benefits in terms of Traffic Benefit Ratio (TBR)

Webster (1993) reported TBR data from instrumented sections of full-scale field test for 30-kips
single wheel load, 68 psi tire pressure, and traffic wandering. For Type 2 extruded stiff biaxial
geogrid the reported data are:
− TBR = 4.7 for CBR = 3, Base thickness = 14 in. (360 mm), Asphalt thickness = 2.4 in. (60 mm)
− TBR = 6.7 for CBR = 8, Base = 10 in. (250 mm), Asphalt thickness = 2.4 in. (60 mm)

The research data were evaluated with regard to the project conditions and the performance of
existing geogrid-reinforced projects, and the following geogrid reinforcement was selected for the
project:
− Extruded biaxial geogrid (punched & drawn sheet) with aperture stability modulus of 0.65 m-
N/deg (Kinney, 2000)
− Traffic Benefit Ratio (TBR) based on 1 in. rut depth equal to 4.0.

STEP 5. Design of the geogrid reinforced pavement.

Alternative II: Extend the performance period by using geogrid reinforcement

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From Step 2, the calculated traffic for the unreinforced section is:
T I, unreinf = 1,100,000 ESALs.
For TBR = 4.0, the calculated traffic for the geogrid reinforced section will be:
T II, reinf = 1,100,000 x 4.0 = 4,400,000 ESALs.

The trafficking calculated for the geogrid-reinforced section is based on the limitation of the
surface rutting to 1.0 in. On the basis of the TBR, a road with the Alternative 1 design with the
geogrid could easily have a 40 years or greater design life. The deterioration of the asphalt
surface due to environmental factors has to be addressed in the maintenance program, which will
be evaluated in the cost analysis in Step 6.

Alternative III: Reduce the required base course thickness by using geogrid reinforcement as
follows.

The equivalent geogrid structural number is calculated based on a T II, reinf = 4,400,000 ESALs,
which provides a structural number of 4.45 Based on the AASHTO, 1993 equation. Thus, an
equivalent SN ≈ 0.7 is estimated for the geogrid. This value must be confirmed through a field
evaluation program and the 1 mile initial test section affords the opportunity to do so.

Layer Drainage Structural


Thickness,
Layer Material Type coefficient, coefficient, number
t (in)
ai mi (t x ai x mi)
1 Asphalt wearing course 1.0 0.42 N/A 0.42
2 Asphalt binder 2.5 0.40 N/A 1.0
3 Aggregate base course 7.0 0.14 1.2 1.18
4 Geogrid* Equivalent SN for TBR = 4 0.7
5 Subbase course 6.0 0.10 0.7 0.42
Overall structural number: 3.72

The calculated traffic for the geogrid-reinforced section for Alternative III, based on the
AASHTO, 1993 equation again is 1,100,000 ESALs.

The calculated traffic of 1,100,000 ESALs exceeds the design traffic of 1,000,000 ESALs and the
calculated traffic of the unreinforced section and meets the design requirements. The geogrid
reinforcement reduced the thickness of the base course by 4.0 in. and increased the allowable
traffic capacity with approximately 10%.

STEP 6. Cost-Benefit Analysis.

INITIAL CONSTRUCTION COSTS


The comparison of the initial construction costs for Alternative I (unreinforced road) and
Alternative II and III (geogrid-reinforced road) is done for the following cost of materials based
on local sources:

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Cost* Cost
Layer Material Type
($/ton) ($/cy)
1 Asphalt wearing course 55.00 107.70
2 Asphalt binder 55.00 107.70
3 Aggregate base course 22.00 35.60
4 Subbase course 12.00 21.80
Biaxial Geogrid
5 $4.25 /SY
(incl. installation cost)
* Average cost in 2008 from a Southeast DOT

Summary of initial construction costs for 1-mile of road for Alternatives I, II and III.
Alternative I: Alternative II: Alternative III:
Expenses
Unreinforced Geogrid-reinforced Geogrid-reinforced
Asphalt $260,400 $260,400 $260,400
Aggregate base $291,700 $291,700 $185,600
Subbase $69,500 $69,500 $69,500
Geogrid $0.0 $67,100 $67,100
Undercut/Fill $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
Total Costs $621,600 $688,700 $582,600
Unit Costs $42.40/SY $47.00/SY $39.70/SY

The analysis of the initial construction costs indicate that the geogrid-reinforced alternative (III)
leads to overall savings of 6.4 % relative to the unreinforced one (I).

LONG-TERM COSTS
The benefits of extended design life of Alternative II vs. Alternative I and III can be evaluated by
life-cycle cost analyses for the unreinforced and reinforced pavement using the FHWA program
RealCost available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/asstmgmt/lccasoft.cfm or other
software.
Parameters Used in Life-Cycle Cost Examples
Parameter Value

Initial Serviceability 4.2


Terminal Serviceability 2
Reliability Level 95
Overall Standard Deviation 0.49
Subgrade Resilient Modulus 6000 psi
Structural Design Number 3.72
Maintenance — Annual cost $160/lane km*
initiates 5 yrs after construction or rehabilitation
Discount Rate 3.50
Evaluation Method NPV
Salvage Value 0

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Summary of Pavement Design for Life-Cycle Cost Analyses
ESAL/Analysis Period 2,200,000 / 40 years
Alternative II Alternative III
Alternative I Performance Period Reinforced w/ reduced
Design Option Extension
Unreinforced section
W/ geosynthetic

Design ESAL 1,000,000 4,000,000 1,000,000


Performance Period (yrs) 20 w/ 10 yr repair 40 w/ 20 yr repair 20 w/ 10 yr repair
Pavement Option
ACC Surface 1 in. 1 in. 1 in.
ACC Binder 2.5 in. 2.5 in. 2.5 in.
Base Course 11 in. 11 in. 7 in.
Subbase Course 6 in. 6 in. 6 in
Geosyn. Reinforcement none yes yes
— In-Place Cost n/a 4.25 4.25
— TBR Value n/a 4 4
Design ESAL 1,000,000 4,000,000 1,000,000
Performance Period (yrs) 20 w/ 10 yr repair 40 w/ 20 yr repair 20 w/ 10 yr repair
Initial Construction Cost
($/mile) $621,600 $688,700 $582,600
a
Total Life-cycle Cost
868,800 777,800 830,000
($/mile)
Percent Savings Compared to
— 10.5 % 4.5 %
Unreinforced Design
Note: a. In today’s dollars.

Alternative III, geogrid-reinforced pavement section for 1,000,000 ESALs, 20 year design life, is
selected for the construction of the first 1-mile section. Its performance will be documented for
the purposes of establishing the design criteria for the future reconstruction of the entire roadway
section. In addition, the data will be used to develop a database of projects and respective
materials properties (aggregate, subgrade, etc.), for future use in assessing long-term
reinforcement benefits in regard to soil and environmental conditions, materials, traffic loads, and
key properties of geosynthetics reinforcement.

STEP 7. Development of a project specification.

See Section 5.9-4 for performance property requirements and Table 5-5 for survivability
requirements.

STEP 8. Development of construction drawings and bid documents.


STEP 9. Construction of the roadway.

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5.8 INSTALLATION PROCEDURES

5.8-1 Roll Placement


Successful use of geosynthetics in pavements requires proper installation, and Figure 5-11
shows the proper sequence of construction. Even though the installation techniques appear
fairly simple, most geosynthetic problems in roadways occur as the result of improper
construction techniques.

If the geosynthetic is ripped or punctured during construction activities, it will not likely
perform as desired. If either a geotextile or geogrid is placed with a lot of wrinkles or folds,
it will not be in tension, and, therefore, cannot provide a reinforcing effect. Other problems
occur due to insufficient cover over the geotextiles or geogrids, rutting of the subgrade prior
to placing the geosynthetic, and thick lifts that exceed the bearing capacity of the soil. The
following step-by-step procedures should be followed, along with careful observations of all
construction activities.
1. The site should be cleared, grubbed, and excavated to design grade, stripping all
topsoil, soft soils, or any other unsuitable materials (Figure 5-11a). If moderate site
conditions exist, i.e., CBR greater than 1, lightweight proofrolling operations should
be considered to help locate unsuitable materials. Isolated pockets where additional
excavation is required should be backfilled to promote positive drainage. Optionally,
geotextile wrapped trench drains could be used to drain isolated areas.
2. During stripping operations, care should be taken not to excessively disturb the
subgrade. This may require the use of lightweight dozers or grade-alls for low-
strength, saturated, noncohesive and low-cohesive soils. For extremely soft ground,
such as peat bog areas, do not excavate surface materials so you may take advantage
of the root mat strength, if it exists. In this case, all vegetation should be cut at the
ground surface. Sawdust or sand can be placed over stumps or roots that extend
above the ground surface to cushion the geotextile or geogrid. Remember, the
subgrade preparation must correspond to the survivability properties of either the
geotextile or geogrid.
3. Once the subgrade along a particular segment of the road alignment has been
prepared, the geotextile or geogrid should be rolled in line with the placement of the
new roadway aggregate (Figure 5-11b). Field operations can be expedited if the
geotextile or geogrid is manufactured to design widths in the factory so it can be
unrolled in one continuous sheet. Geogrids should be placed directly on top of
geotextiles when used together. The geosynthetic should not be dragged across the
subgrade. The entire roll should be placed and rolled out as smoothly as possible.
Wrinkles and folds in the geotextile or geogid should be removed by stretching and
staking as required.

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b. Unroll the geosynthetic directly over the
a. Prepare the ground by removing stumps, ground to be stabilized. If more than one roll is
boulders, etc.; fill in low spots. required, overlap rolls. Inspect geosynthetic.
PREPARE THE GROUND UNROLL THE GEOSYNTHETIC

c. Back dump aggregate onto previously place


aggregate. Do not drive on the geosynthetic.
Maintain 6 to 12 inches (150 – 300 mm) cover d. Spread the aggregate over the
between truck tires and geosynthetic. geosynthetic to the design thickness.
BACK DUMP AGGREGATE SPREAD THE AGGREGATE

e. Compact the aggregate using dozer tracks


or smooth drum vibratory roller.
COMPACT THE AGGREGATE

Figure 5-11. Construction sequence using geosynthetics.

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4. Parallel rolls of geotextiles or geogrids should be overlapped, sewn, or joined as
required. (Specific requirements are given in Sections 5.8-2 and 5.8-3.)
5. For curves, the geotextile should be folded or cut and overlapped in the direction of
the turn (previous fabric on top) (Figure 5-12). Folds in the geotextile should be
stapled or pinned approximately 2 ft (0.6 m) on centers. Geogrids should be cut and
overlapped in the direction of the turn.
6. When the geotextile or geogrid intersects an existing pavement area, the geosynthetic
should extend to the edge of the old system. For widening or intersecting existing
roads where geotextiles or geogrids have been used, consider anchoring the geotextile
or geogrid at the roadway edge. Ideally, the edge of the roadway should be excavated
down to the existing geosynthetic and the existing geosynthetic mechanically
connected to the new geosynthetic (i.e., sewn to the new geotextile or mechanically
connected with plastic ties to the geogrid). Overlaps, staples, and pins could also be
utilized.
7. Before covering, the condition of the geotextile or geogrid should be checked for
excessive damage (i.e., holes, rips, tears, etc.) by an inspector experienced in the use
of these materials. If excessive defects are observed, the section of the geosynthetic
containing the defect should be repaired by placing a new layer of geosynthetic over
the damaged area. The minimum required overlap required for parallel rolls should
extend beyond the defect in all directions. Alternatively, the defective section can be
replaced.
8. The base aggregate should be end-dumped on the previously placed aggregate (Figure
5-11c). For very soft subgrades, pile heights should be limited to prevent possible
subgrade failure. The maximum placement lift thickness for such soils should not
exceed the design thickness of the road.
9. The first lift of aggregate should be spread and graded to 12 in. (300 mm), or to the
design thickness if less than 12 in. (300 mm), prior to compaction (Figure 5-11d). At
no time should traffic be allowed on a soft roadway with less than 8 in. (200 mm), (or
6 in. {150 mm} for CBR ≥ 3) of aggregate over the geotextile. Equipment can
operate on the roadway without aggregate for geotextile or geocomposite installation
under permeable bases, if the subgrade is of sufficient strength. For extremely soft
soils, lightweight construction vehicles will likely be required for access on the first
lift. Construction vehicles should be limited in size and weight so rutting in the initial
lift is limited to 3 in. (75 mm). If rut depths exceed 3 in. (75 mm), it will be
necessary to decrease the construction vehicle size and/or weight or to increase the
lift thickness. For example, it may be necessary to reduce the size of the dozer
required to blade out the fill or to deliver the fill in half-loaded rather than fully
loaded trucks.

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10. The first lift of base aggregate should be compacted by tracking with the dozer, then
compacted with a smooth-drum vibratory roller to obtain a minimum compacted
density (Figure 5-11e). For construction of permeable bases, compaction shall meet
specification requirements. For very soft soils, design density should not be
anticipated for the first lift and, in this case, compaction requirements should be
reduced. One recommendation is to allow compaction of 5% less than the required
minimum specification density for the first lift.
11. Construction should be performed parallel to the road alignment. Turning should not
be permitted on the first lift of base aggregate. Turn-outs may be constructed at the
roadway edge to facilitate construction.
12. On very soft subgrades, if the geotextile or geogrid is to provide some reinforcing,
pretensioning of the geosynthetic should be considered. For pretensioning, the area
should be proofrolled by a heavily loaded, rubber-tired vehicle such as a loaded dump
truck. The wheel load should be equivalent to the maximum expected for the site.
The vehicle should make at least four passes over the first lift in each area of the site.
Alternatively, once the design aggregate has been placed, the roadway could be used
for a time prior to paving to prestress the geotextile-aggregate or geogrid-aggregate
system in key areas.
13. Any ruts that form during construction should be filled in, as shown in Figure 5-13 to
maintain adequate cover over the geotextile or geogrid. Ruts should never be bladed
down, as this would decrease the amount of aggregate cover between the ruts.
14. All remaining base aggregate should be placed in lifts not exceeding 10 in. (250 mm)
in loose thickness and compacted to the appropriate specification density.

5.8-2a Geotextile Overlaps


Overlaps can be used to provide continuity between adjacent geotextile rolls through
frictional resistance between the overlaps. Also, a sufficient overlap is required to prevent
soil from squeezing into the aggregate at the joint. The amount of overlap depends primarily
on the soil conditions and the potential for equipment to rut the soil. If the subgrade does not
rut under construction activities, only a minimum overlap is required to provide some pullout
resistance. As the potential for rutting and squeezing of soil increases, the required overlap
increases. Since rutting potential can be related to CBR, it can be used as a guideline for the
minimum overlap required, as shown in Table 5-11.

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2 ft (0.6 m)

2 ft (0.6 m)

Figure 5-12. Forming curves using geotextiles.

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Figure 5-13. Repair of rutting with additional material.

Table 5-11
Recommended Minimum Geotextile Overlap Requirements
CBR Minimum Overlap

> 2 12 – 18 in. (300 - 450 mm)


1-2 24 – 36 in. (600 - 900 mm)
0.5 - 1 36 in. (900 mm) or sewn1
< 0.5 sewn1
All roll ends 36 in. (900 mm) or sewn1

NOTE: 1. See Section 5.8-3.

The geotextile can be stapled or pinned at the overlaps to maintain their position during
construction activities. Nails 10 to 12 in. (250 to 300 mm) long should be placed at a
minimum of 50 ft (15 m) on centers for parallel rolls and 5 ft (1.5 m) on centers for roll ends.

Geotextile roll widths should be selected so overlaps of parallel rolls occur at the roadway
centerline and at the shoulders. Overlaps should not be placed along anticipated primary
wheel path locations. Overlaps at the end of rolls should be in the direction of the aggregate
placement (previous roll on top).

5.8-2b Geogrid Overlaps


Overlap recommendations are the same as for Geotextile Overlaps, except sewing, which in
most cases is not an option with geogrids. For geogrids that can be sewn (e.g., woven
geogrids), the recommendations for geotextile seams in the following section should be
followed.

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5.8-3 Seams
When sewn seams are required, they should meet the same tensile strength requirements for
survivability (Table 5-2) as those of the geosynthetics perpendicular to the seam (as
determined by the same testing methods). Seaming is discussed in detail in Section 1.8. All
factory or field seams should be sewn with thread as strong and durable as the material in the
geosynthetic. J-seams with interlocking stitches are recommended. Alternatively, if bag-
type stitches, which can easily unravel, or butt-type seams are used, seams should be double-
sewn with parallel stitching spaced no more than ¼ to ½ in (6 to 13 mm) apart. Double
sewing is required to safeguard against undetected missed stitches. The geosynthetic
strength may actually have to exceed the specifications in order to provide seam strengths
equal to the specified tensile strength.

For certain geogrids, overlap joints, tying or interlocking with wire cables, plastic pipe, hog
rings, or bodkin joints may be required. Geotextile seam strength requirements should also
be applied to overlapped or mechanically fastened geogrids. Consult the manufacturer for
specific recommendations and strength test data.

5.8-4 Field Inspection

The field inspector should review the field inspection guidelines in Section 1.7. Particular
attention should be paid to factors that affect geosynthetic survivability: subgrade condition,
aggregate placement, lift thickness, and equipment operations.

5.9 SPECIFICATIONS

Specifications should generally follow the guidelines in Section 1.6. The main
considerations include the minimum geosynthetic requirements for design and those obtained
from the survivability, retention, and filtration requirements in (Sections 5.3 - 5.7), as well as
the construction requirements covered in Section 5.8. As with other applications, it is very
important that an engineer's representative be on site during placement to observe that the
correct geosynthetic has been delivered, that the specified construction sequence is being
followed in detail, and that no damage to the geotextile is occurring. Specifications are
provided in this section for geotextiles in separation and stabilization applications, geogrids
in stabilization applications and geosynthetics in base reinforcement applications.

5.9-1 Geotextile for Separation and Stabilization Applications


The following example specification is a combination of the AASHTO M288 (2006)
geotextile material specification and its accompanying construction/installation guidelines.

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SPECIFICATION FOR GEOTEXTILES USED IN
SEPARATION AND STABILIZATION APPLICATIONS
(after AASHTO M288, 2006)

1. SCOPE

1.1 Description. This specification is applicable to the use of a geotextile to prevent mixing of a
subgrade soil and an aggregate cover material (i.e., separation application); and to the use of a
geotextile in wet, saturated conditions to provide the coincident functions of separation and
filtration (i.e., stabilization application). In some stabilization applications, the geotextile can
also provide the function of reinforcement.
1.2 Separation. The separation application is appropriate for pavement structures constructed over
soils with a California Bearing Ratio greater than or equal to three (CBR > 3) (shear strength
greater than approximately 2000 psf {90 kPa}). It is appropriate for unsaturated subgrade soils.
The primary function of a geotextile in this application is separation.
1.3 Stabilization. The stabilization application is appropriate for subgrade soils which are saturated
due to a high groundwater table or due to prolonged periods of wet weather. Stabilization is
applicable to pavement structures constructed over soils with a CBR between one and three (1 <
CBR <3) (shear strength between approximately 600 psf {30 kPa} and 2000 psf {90 kPa}). This
specification is not appropriate for embankment reinforcement where stress conditions may cause
global subgrade foundation or stability failure. Reinforcement of the pavement section is a site-
specific design issue.

2. REFERENCED DOCUMENTS

2.1 AASHTO Standards


T88 Particle Size Analysis of Soils
T90 Determining the Plastic Limit and Plasticity Index of Soils
T99 The Moisture-Density Relationships of Soils Using a 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) Rammer and a 12 in.
(305 mm) Drop
2.2 ASTM Standards
D 123 Standard Terminology Relating to Textiles
D 276 Test Methods for Identification of Fibers in Textiles
D 4354 Practice for Sampling of Geosynthetics for Testing
D 4355 Test Method for Deterioration of Geotextiles from Exposure to Ultraviolet Light and
Water (Xenon Arc Type Apparatus)
D 4439 Terminology for Geosynthetics
D 4491 Test Methods for Water Permeability of Geotextiles by Permittivity
D 4632 Test Method for Grab Breaking Load and Elongation of Geotextiles
D 4751 Test Method for Determining Apparent Opening Size of a Geotextile
D 4759 Practice for Determining the Specification Conformance of Geosynthetics
D 4833 Test Method for Index Puncture Resistance of Geotextiles, Geomembranes and Related
Products

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D 4873 Guide for Identification, Storage, and Handling of Geotextiles
D 5261 Test Method for Measuring Mass per Unit Area of Geotextiles
D 6241 Test Method for Static Puncture Strength of Geotextiles and Geotextile
Related Products Using a 50-mm Probe

3. PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL REQUIREMENTS

3.1 Fibers used in the manufacture of geotextiles and the threads used in joining geotextiles by
sewing, shall consist of long chain synthetic polymers, composed of at least 95% by weight
polyolefins or polyesters. They shall be formed into a stable network such that the filaments or
yarns retain their dimensional stability relative to each other, including selvages.
3.2 Geotextile Requirements. The geotextile shall meet the requirements of following Table. Woven
slit film geotextiles (i.e., geotextiles made from yarns of a flat, tape-like character) will not be
allowed. All numeric values in the following table, except AOS, represent minimum average roll
values (MARV) in the weakest principal direction (i.e., average test results of any roll in a lot
sampled for conformance or quality assurance testing shall meet or exceed the minimum values).
Values for AOS represent maximum average roll values.

4. CERTIFICATION

4.1 The Contractor shall provide to the engineer a certificate stating the name of the manufacturer,
product name, style number, chemical composition of the filaments or yarns and other pertinent
information to fully describe the geotextile.
4.2 The manufacturer is responsible for establishing and maintaining a quality control program to
assure compliance with the requirements of the specification. Documentation describing the
quality control program shall be made available upon request.
4.3 The manufacturer’s certificate shall state that the furnished geotextile meets MARV requirements
of the specification as evaluated under the manufacturer’s quality control program. A person
having legal authority to bind the manufacturer shall attest to the certificate.
4.4 Either mislabeling or misrepresentation of materials shall be reason to reject those geotextile
products.

5. SAMPLING, TESTING, AND ACCEPTANCE

5.1 Geotextiles shall be subject to sampling and testing to verify conformance with this specification.
Sampling shall be in accordance with the most current ASTM D 4354 using the section titled,
“Procedure for Sampling for Purchaser’s Specification Conformation Testing.” In the absence of
purchaser’s testing, verification may be based on manufacturer’s certifications as a result of a
testing by the manufacturer of quality assurance samples obtained using he procedure for
Sampling or Manufacturer’s Quality Assurance (MQA) Testing. A lot size shall be considered to
be the shipment quantity of the given product or a truckload of the given product, whichever is
smaller.

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Table 1. Geotextile Property Requirements

Separation Application Stabilization Application


Class 2(1) Class 1(2)
Property ASTM Test Units
Method Geotextile Geotextile Geotextile Geotextile
Elongation Elongation Elongation Elongation
< 50%(3) > 50%(3) < 50%(3) > 50%(3)

Grab Strength D 4632 N 1100 700 1400 900

Sewn Seam Strength(4) D 4632 N 990 630 1260 810

Tear Strength D 4533 N 400(6) 250 500 350

Puncture Strength D 6241 N 2200 1375 2750 1925

Permittivity D 4491 sec-1 0.02(5) 0.05(5)

Apparent Opening Size D 4751 mm 0.60 max. 0.43 max.

Ultraviolet Stability D 4355 % 50% after 500 hours of exposure


(Retained Strength)

NOTES:
(1) Default geotextile selection. Class 1 should be specified for more severe or harsh conditions where there is a
greater potential for geotextile damage. The engineer may specify a Class 3 geotextile [Appendix D] based
on one or more of the following:
a) The Engineer has found Class 3 geotextiles to have sufficient survivability based on field experience.
b) The Engineer has found Class 3 geotextiles to have sufficient survivability based on laboratory testing
and visual inspection of a geotextile sample removed from a field test section constructed under
anticipated field conditions.
c) Aggregate cover thickness of the first lift over the geotextile exceeds 12 in. (300 mm) and aggregate
diameter is less than 2 in. (50 mm).
d) Aggregate cover thickness of the first lift over the geotextile exceeds 6 in. (150 mm), aggregate
diameter is less than 1.2 in. (30 mm), and construction equipment contact pressure is less than 80 psi
(550 kPa).
(2) Default geotextile selection. The Engineer may specify a Class 2 or 3 geotextile [Appendix D] based on one
or more of the following:
a) The engineer has found the class of geotextile to have sufficient survivability based on field experience.
b) The engineer has found the class of geotextile to have sufficient survivability based on laboratory testing
and visual inspection of a geotextile sample removed form a field test section constructed under
anticipated field conditions.
(3) As measured in accordance with ASTM D 4632.
(4) When sewn seams are required.
(5) Default value. Permittivity of the geotextile should be greater than that of the soil (ψg > ψs). The Engineer
may also require the permeability of the geotextile to be greater than that of the soil (kg > ks).
(6) The required MARV tear strength for woven monofilament geotextiles is 250 N.

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5.2 Testing shall be performed in accordance with the methods referenced in this specification for the
indicated application. The number of specimens to test per sample is specified by each test
method. Geotextile product acceptance shall be based on ASTM D 4759. Product acceptance is
determined by comparing the average test results of all specimens within a given sample to the
specification MARV. Refer to ASTM D 4759 for more details regarding geotextile acceptance
procedures.

6. SHIPMENT AND STORAGE

6.1 Geotextile labeling, shipment, and storage shall follow ASTM D 4873. Product labels shall
clearly show the manufacturer or supplier name, style number, and roll number. Each shipping
document shall include a notation certifying that the material is in accordance with the
manufacturer’s certificate.
6.2 Each geotextile roll shall be wrapped with a material that will protect the geotextile, including the
ends of the rolls, from damage due to shipment, water, sunlight, and contaminants. The
protective wrapping shall be maintained during periods of shipment and storage.
6.3 During storage, geotextile rolls shall be elevated off the ground and adequately covered to protect
them from the following: site construction damage, precipitation, extended ultraviolet radiation
including sunlight, chemicals that are strong acids or strong bases, flames including welding
sparks, temperatures in excess of 71°C (160°F), and any other environmental condition that may
damage the physical property values of the geotextile.

7. CONSTRUCTION

7.1 General. Atmospheric exposure of geotextiles to the elements following lay down shall be a
maximum of 14 days to minimize damage potential.
7.2 Seaming.
a. If a sewn seam is to be used for the seaming of the geotextile, the thread used shall consist of
high strength polypropylene, or polyester. Nylon thread shall not be used. For erosion control
applications, the thread shall also be resistant to ultraviolet radiation. The thread shall be of
contrasting color to that of the geotextile itself.
b. For seams which are sewn in the field, the Contractor shall provide at least a two m length of
sewn seam for sampling by the engineer before the geotextile is installed. For seams that are
sewn in the factory, the engineer shall obtain samples of the factory seams at random from any
roll of geotextile which is to be used on the project.
b.1 For seams that are field sewn, the seams sewn for sampling shall be sewn using the same
equipment and procedures as will be used for the production of seams. If seams are to be
sewn in both the machine and cross machine directions, samples of seams from both
directions shall be provided.
b.2 The Contractor shall submit the seam assembly along with the sample of the seam. The
description shall include the seam type, stitch type, sewing thread, and stitch density.

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7.3 Site Preparation. The installation site shall be prepared by clearing, grubbing, and excavation or
filling the area to the design grade. This includes removal of top soil and vegetation.

NOTE: Soft spots and unsuitable areas will be identified during site preparation or
subsequent proof rolling. These areas shall be excavated and backfilled with select
material and compacted using normal procedures.

7.4 Geotextile Placement.


a. The geotextile shall be laid smooth without wrinkles or folds on the prepared subgrade in the
direction of construction traffic. Adjacent geotextile rolls shall be overlapped, sewn or joined
as required in the plans. Overlaps shall be in the direction as shown on the plans. See
following Table for overlap requirements.
Overlap Requirements

SOIL CBR MINIMUM OVERLAP

Greater than 3 12 – 18 in. (300 - 450 mm)

1–3 2 – 3 ft (0.6 - 1 m)

0.5 – 1 3 ft (1 m) or sewn

Less than 0.5 Sewn

All roll ends 3 ft (1 m) or sewn

a.1 On curves the geotextile may be folded or cut to conform to the curves. The fold or overlap
shall be in the direction of construction and held in place by pins, staples, or piles of fill or
rock.
a.2 Prior to covering, the geotextile shall be inspected to ensure that the geotextile has not been
damaged (i.e., holes, tears, rips) during installation. The inspection shall be done by the
engineer or the engineer’s designated representative. It is recommended that the
designated representative be a certified inspector. Damaged geotextiles, as identified by
the Engineer, shall be repaired immediately. Cover the damaged area with a geotextile patch
which extends an amount equal to the required overlap beyond the damaged area.
b. The subbase shall be placed by end dumping onto the geotextile from the edge of the
geotextile, or over previously placed subbase aggregate. Construction vehicles shall not be
allowed directly on the geotextile. The subbase shall be placed such that at least the minimum
specified lift thickness shall be between the geotextile and equipment tires or tracks at all times.
Turning of vehicles shall not be permitted on the first lift above the geotextile.

NOTE: On subgrades having a CBR values of less than one, the subbase aggregate
should be spread in its full thickness as soon as possible after dumping to minimize
the potential of localized subgrade failure due to overloading of the subgrade.

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b.1 Any ruts occurring during construction shall be filled with additional subbase material, and
compacted to the specified density.
b.2 If placement of the backfill material causes damage to the geotextile, the damaged area shall
be repaired as previously described. The placement procedures shall then be modified to
eliminate further damage from taking place. (i.e., increased initial lift thickness, decrease
equipment loads, etc.)

NOTE: In stabilization applications, the use of vibratory compaction equipment is


not recommended with the initial lift of subbase material, as it may cause damage to
the geotextile.

8. METHOD OF MEASUREMENT

8.1 The geotextile shall be measured by the number of square meters computed from the
payment lines shown on the plans or from payment lines established in writing by the Engineer.
This excludes seam overlaps, but shall include geotextiles used in crest and toe of slope
treatments.
8.2 Slope preparation, excavation and backfill, bedding, and cover material are separate pay
items.

9. BASIS OF PAYMENT

9.1 The accepted quantities of geotextile shall be paid for per square yard (sq. meter) in place.
9.2 Payment will be made under:
Pay Item Pay Unit

Separation Geotextile Square Yard (Square Meter)


Stabilization Geotextile Square Yard (Square Meter)

5.9-2 Geogrids for Subgrade Stabilization


AASHTO (i.e., AASHTO Provisional Standard PP 46-01, 2001) and the US Army Corp of
Engineers (UFGS-02375) have established geogrid specification for base stabilization
applications. The following specification was developed based on the attributes of these two
specifications with modifications to conform to the definitions and design methods presented
in this manual.

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Standard Specification
for
Geogrid Subgrade Stabilization
of Pavement Structures for Highway Applications

1. SCOPE

1.1 This is a material specification covering the use of a geogrid between aggregate cover soil
(e.g., subbase or construction platform) and soft subgrade soils (typically wet and saturated) to
provide the coincident functions of separation by preventing aggregate intrusion into the subgrade and
reinforcement of the aggregate layer to restrain subgrade movement (i.e., mechanical stabilization
application). This is a material purchasing specification and design review of use is recommended.
1.2 The stabilization application is appropriate for subgrade soils which are saturated due to a
high groundwater table or due to prolonged periods of wet weather. Stabilization is applicable to
pavement structures constructed over soils with a CBR between one and three (1 < CBR <3) (shear
strength between approximately 600 psf {30 kPa} and 2000 psf {90 kPa}). This specification is not
appropriate for embankment reinforcement where stress conditions may cause global subgrade
foundation or stability failure. Reinforcement of the pavement section is a site-specific design issue.
1.2 This is not a construction specification. This specification is based on required geogrid
properties defined by subgrade stabilization design and by geogrid survivability from installation
stresses.

2. REFERENCED DOCUMENTS

2.1 ASTM Standards:1


ASTM D 4355 (2005) Deterioration of Geotextiles from
Exposure to Light, Moisture and Heat in a Xenon-Arc Type Apparatus
ASTM D 4873 Identification, Storage, and Handling of Geosynthetic Rolls and Samples
ASTM D 5818 Obtaining Samples of Geosynthetics from a Test Section for Assessment of
Installation Damage
ASTM D 6637 Tensile Properties of Geogrids by the Single or Multi-Rib Tensile Method
2.2 GRI Standards:2
GSI GRI GG1 Geogrid Rib Tensile Strength
GSI GRI GG2 Individual Geogrid Junction Strength
GSI GRI GG4a Determination of the Long-Term Design Strength of Stiff Geogrids
GSI GRI Determination of the Long-Term Design Strength of Flexible Geogrids
GG4b
GSI GRI GG6 Grip Types for Use in Wide Width Testing of Geotextiles and Geogrids

1
Available from ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428.
2
Available from Geosynthetic Research Institute, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.

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2.3 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers CW-00215 Test Method for Determining Percent Open Area
(Modified for Geogrids)

3. PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

3.1 Polymers used in the manufacture of geogrids shall consist of long-chain synthetic polymers,
composed of at least 95 percent by weight of polyolefins, polyesters, or polyamides. They shall be
formed into a stable network such that the ribs, filaments or yarns retain their dimensional stability
relative to each other, including selvages.
3.2 Geogrids used for subgrade stabilization shall conform to the physical requirements of Section 7.
3.3 All property values, with the exception of the coefficient of interaction, coefficient of direct
shear, and ultraviolet stability, in these specifications represent minimum average roll values
(MARV) in the weakest principle direction (i.e., average test results of any roll in a lot sampled for
conformance or quality assurance testing shall meet or exceed the minimum values provided herein).

4. CERTIFICATION AND SUBMITTAL

4.1 The contractor shall provide to the Engineer, a certificate stating the name of the
manufacturer, product name, style number, chemical composition of the geogrid product and physical
properties applicable to this specification.
4.2 The Manufacturer is responsible for establishing and maintaining a quality control program to
assure compliance with the requirements of the specification. Documentation describing the quality
control program shall be made available upon request.
4.3 The Manufacturer’s certificate shall state that the furnished geogrid meets MARV
requirements of the specification as evaluated under the Manufacturer’s quality control program. The
certificate shall be attested to by a person having legal authority to bind the Manufacturer.
4.4 Either mislabeling or misrepresentation of materials shall be reason to reject those geogrids.
4.5 The contractor shall provide approximately ___ of the aggregate cover layer (e.g., subbase)
for the agency to test.
Note: The approximate amounts of subbase required by test are: gradation 18 lb (8.0 kg) for 1.5
in. (38 mm) max size, 130 lb (60.0 kg) for 3 in, (75 mm) max size; proctor (6 in. {152 mm}
diameter) 65 lb (29 kg); lab CBR 65 lb (29 kg); and moisture 11 lb (5 kg).

5. SAMPLING, TESTING, AND ACCEPTANCE

5.1 Geogrids shall be subject to sampling and testing to verify conformance with this
specification. Sampling for testing shall be in accordance with ASTM D 4354. Acceptance shall be
based on testing of either conformance samples obtained using Procedure A of ASTM D 4354, or
based on manufacturer’s certifications and testing of quality assurance samples obtained using
Procedure B of ASTM D 4354. A lot size for conformance or quality assurance sampling shall be
considered to be the shipment quantity of the given product or a truckload of the given product,
whichever is smaller.

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5.2 Testing shall be performed in accordance with the methods referenced in this specification for
the indicated application. The number of specimens to test per sample is specified by each test
method. Geogrid product acceptance shall be based on ASTM D 4759. Product acceptance is
determined by comparing the average test results of all specimens within a given sample to the
specification MARV. Refer to ASTM D 4759 for more detail regarding geogrid acceptance
procedures.

6. SHIPMENT AND STORAGE

6.1 Geogrids labeling, shipment, and storage shall follow ASTM D 4873. Product labels shall
clearly show the manufacturer or supplier name, style name, and roll number. Each shipping
document shall include a notation certifying that the material is in accordance with the manufacturer’s
certificate.
6.2 During storage, geogrid rolls shall be elevated off the ground and adequately covered to
protect them from the following: site construction damage, precipitation, extended ultraviolet
radiation including sunlight, chemicals that are strong acids or strong bases, flames including welding
sparks, temperatures in excess of 71EC (160EF), and any other environmental condition that may
damage the physical property values of the geogrid.

7. GEOGRID PROPERTY REQUIREMENTS FOR SUBGRADE RESTRAINT

7.1 The reinforcement shall meet the requirements of Table 1.


7.1.1 All numeric values in Table 1 represent MARVs with the exception of the ultraviolet light
stability. All numeric strength values are for the weaker principal direction, unless noted otherwise.
7.1.2 Index, survivability property values in Table 1 represent default values which provide
sufficient geogrid survivability under most construction conditions. The geogrid properties required
for survivability are dependent upon geogrid elongation.
7.1.3 The geogrid is assumed to be placed with the machine direction (MD - roll length) parallel
with the centerline of the roadway alignment. If the geogrid is placed with the machine direction
transverse to the centerline of the roadway alignment, the machine (MD) and cross machine direction
(XD) tensile strength requirements listed in Table 1 shall be reversed.

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Table 1. Geogrid Property Requirements

Property Test Method Units Required


Value1,2
Reinforcement Properties

Ultimate Tensile Strength ASTM D 6637 lb/ft (kN/m) 820 (12)

Geogrid Percent Open Area CW-02215 % 50

Minimum Aperture Size Direct measure in. (mm) ____ (____)

Maximum Opening Size Direct measure in. (mm) ____ (____)

Survivability Index Values Class 23

Ultimate Tensile Strength ASTM D 66373 lb/ft (kN/m) 820 (12)

Junction Strength GRI GG2 lb (N) 25 (110)

Ultraviolet Stability ASTM D4355 % at 500 hrs 50

Notes
1 Values, except Ultraviolet Stability, are MARVs (average value minus two
standard deviations).
2 Minimum strength direction
3 Default geotextile selection. The Engineer may specify a Class 3 geogrids [See
Section 5.3-6] based on one or more of the following:
a) The Engineer has found Class 3 geogrids to have sufficient survivability
based on field experience.
b) The Engineer has found Class 3 geogrids to have sufficient survivability
based on laboratory testing and visual inspection of a geotextile sample
removed from a field test section constructed under anticipated field
conditions.
4 Minimum opening size must be ≥ D50 of aggregate above geogrid to provide
interlock, but not less than ½ in. (25 mm).
5 Maximum opening size must be ≤ 2⋅D85 to prevent aggregate from penetrating
into the subgrade, but no greater than 3 in. (75 mm).

5.9-3 Geosynthetics for Base Reinforcement of Pavement Structures


Specifications for base reinforcement in pavement structures have also been established by
AASHTO. A typical, generic type material specification for geosynthetic reinforcement for
pavements will be difficult to develop because of: the proprietary nature (i.e., current product
patents) of biaxial geogrids and some geocomposites; a lack of a thorough understanding of
the mechanistic benefits of geosynthetic reinforcement; lack of performance documentation;
and inability to measure contribution of geosynthetic reinforcement to pavement structure
with non-destructive testing methods.

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A geosynthetic reinforcement specification should allow use of other geosynthetic products
that either: (i) meet the physical properties defined by the key property requirements; or (ii)
by demonstrating performance equivalency through full-scale laboratory testing, in-ground
testing of pavements, and prior projects. The following Specification is from AASHTO 4E
and can be used for geogrids, geotextiles or geogrid-geotextile composites used in base
reinforcement applications.

Standard Specification
for
Geosynthetic Base Reinforcement of Pavement Structures for Highway Applications

1. SCOPE

1.1 This is a material specification covering [geogrid] [geotextile] [geogrid-geotextile composite]


geosynthetics for use as reinforcement of base OR subbase layers of pavement structures. This is a
material purchasing specification and design review of use is recommended.
__________________________
NOTE: Eliminate non applicable geosynthetic type(s) in [ ] throughout specification.

1.2 This is not a construction specification. This specification is based on required geosynthetic
properties defined by pavement design and by geosynthetic survivability from installation stresses.

2. REFERENCED DOCUMENTS

2.1 ASTM Standards:1

2.2 GRI Standards:2

2.3 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

3. PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

3.1 Polymers used in the manufacture of [geogrids][geotextiles][geogrid-geotextile composites]


shall consist of long-chain synthetic polymers, composed of at least 95 percent by weight of
polyolefins, polyesters, or polyamides. They shall be formed into a stable network such that the ribs,
filaments or yarns retain their dimensional stability relative to each other, including selvages.
3.2 [Geogrids][Geotextiles][Geogrid-geotextile composites] used for reinforcement of base or
subbase layers shall conform to the physical requirements of Section 7.
3.3 All property values, with the exception of the coefficient of interaction, coefficient of direct
shear, and ultraviolet stability, in these specifications represent minimum average roll values
(MARV) in the weakest principle direction (i.e., average test results of any roll in a lot sampled for
conformance or quality assurance testing shall meet or exceed the minimum values provided herein).

__________________________
1. Available from ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428.
2. Available from Geosynthetic Research Institute, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.

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4. CERTIFICATION AND SUBMITTAL

4.1 The contractor shall provide to the Engineer, a certificate stating the name of the
manufacturer, product name, style number, chemical composition of the
[geogrid][geotextile][geogrid-geotextile composite] product and physical properties applicable to this
specification.
4.2 The Manufacturer is responsible for establishing and maintaining a quality control program to
assure compliance with the requirements of the specification. Documentation describing the quality
control program shall be made available upon request.
4.3 The Manufacturer’s certificate shall state that the furnished [geogrid][geotextile][geogrid-
geotextile composite] meets MARV requirements of the specification as evaluated under the
Manufacturer’s quality control program. The certificate shall be attested to by a person having legal
authority to bind the Manufacturer.
4.4 Either mislabeling or misrepresentation of materials shall be reason to reject those
[geogrids][geotextiles][geogrid-geotextile composites].
4.5 The contractor shall provide to the Engineer, a submittal of the material values for the
properties listed in Table 1, for information purposes.
__________________________
NOTE: Eliminate non applicable tables.

4.6 The contractor shall provide approximately ___ kg of base (and subbase if applicable) for the
agency to test.
__________________________
NOTE: The approximate amounts of base (and subbase) required by test are: gradation 8.0 kg for
38 mm max size, 60.0 kg for 75 mm max size; proctor (152 mm diameter) 45 kg; lab
CBR 29 kg; moisture 5 kg; direct shear 50 kg*; pullout 1250 kg.*
*Dependent upon box size of test apparatus.

4.7 The contractor shall provide access to the agency for retrieval of asphalt concrete cores.
Contractor shall patch core holes.
__________________________
NOTE: Cores are required for Marshall stability or elastic modulus, thickness, and in-place bulk
density testing. Approximately ____ cores are required.

5. SAMPLING, TESTING, AND ACCEPTANCE

5.1 [Geogrids][Geotextiles][Geogrid-geotextile composites] shall be subject to sampling and


testing to verify conformance with this specification. Sampling for testing shall be in accordance
with ASTM D 4354. Acceptance shall be based on testing of either conformance samples obtained
using Procedure A of ASTM D 4354, or based on manufacturer’s certifications and testing of quality
assurance samples obtained using Procedure B of ASTM D 4354. A lot size for conformance or
quality assurance sampling shall be considered to be the shipment quantity of the given product or a
truckload of the given product, whichever is smaller.
5.2 Testing shall be performed in accordance with the methods referenced in this specification for
the indicated application. The number of specimens to test per sample is specified by each test
method. [Geogrid][Geotextile][Geogrid-geotextile composite] product acceptance shall be based on
ASTM D 4759. Product acceptance is determined by comparing the average test results of all
specimens within a given sample to the specification MARV. Refer to ASTM D 4759 for more detail
regarding acceptance procedures.

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Table 1a. Geogrid Property Submittal Requirements for
Base Reinforcement of Pavements
Test
Property Method Units 1
Value
3 2 2
Reinforcement Properties MD XD
2% & 5 % secant moduli ASTM D6637 lb/ft (kN/m)
Coef of Pullout Interact. GRI GG5 –
4
Coef of Direct Shear ASTM D5321 degrees
Aperture Size Direct measure in. (mm)
Percent Open Area COE CW-02215 %
Survivability Index Values
Ult Tensile Strength ASTM D6637 lb/ft (kN/m)
Junction Strength GRI GG2 lb (kN)
Ultraviolet Stability ASTM D4355 %
Notes:
1 Values, except Ultraviolet Stability, Aperture Size, and Coefs are MARVs.
2 MD - machine, or roll, direction; XD - cross machine, or roll, direction
3 The stiffness properties of flexural rigidity and aperture stability are currently
being evaluated by the geosynthetic industry, in regards to this application.
4 Dimensionless.

Table 1b. Geogrid-Geotextile Composite Property Submittal


Requirements for Base Reinforcement of Flexible Pavements
Test
Property Method Units 1
Required Value
3 2 2
Reinforcement Properties MD XD

2% & 5 % Secant Moduli 4 lb/ft (kN/m)


ASTM D4595
Flexural Rigidity 4 2 2
ASTM D5732 oz/in. (mg/cm )
Coef of Pullout Interact. GRI GG5 –
5
Coef of Direct Shear ASTM D5321 degrees
Permittivity ASTM D4491 in. (mm)
Apparent Opening Size ASTM D4751 -1
sec
Elong Elong
Survivability Index Values < 50% > 50%
4
Ult Tensile Strength ASTM D4595 lb (N)
Junction Strength GRI GG2 lb (kN)
Ultraviolet Stability ASTM D 4355 % >__%, ___ hrs

Notes
1 Values, except Ultraviolet Stability, Apparent Opening Size, ____ and ____, are
MARVs (average value minus two standard deviations).
2 MD - machine, or roll, direction; XD - cross machine, or roll, direction
3 The stiffness properties of flexural rigidity and aperture stability are currently
being evaluated by the geosynthetic industry, in regards to this application.
4 Modified test method.
5 Dimensionless.

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6. SHIPMENT AND STORAGE

6.1 [Geogrids][Geotextiles][Geogrid-geotextile composites] labeling, shipment, and storage shall


follow ASTM D 4873. Product labels shall clearly show the manufacturer or supplier name, style
name, and roll number. Each shipping document shall include a notation certifying that the material
is in accordance with the manufacturer’s certificate.[For geotextiles and geocomposites, each roll
shall be wrapped with a material that will protect the geotextile from damage due to shipment, water,
sunlight, and contaminants. The protective wrapping shall be maintained during periods of shipment
an storage.]
6.2 During storage, [geogrid][geotextile][geogrid-geotextile composite] rolls shall be elevated off
the ground and adequately covered to protect them from the following: site construction damage,
precipitation, extended ultraviolet radiation including sunlight, chemicals that are strong acids or
strong bases, flames including welding sparks, temperatures in excess of 71EC (160EF), and any other
environmental condition that may damage the physical property values of the
[geogrid][geotextile][geogrid-geotextile composite].

7. [GEOGRID][GEOTEXTILE][GEOGRID-GEOTEXTILE COMPOSITE] PROPERTY


REQUIREMENTS FOR BASE REINFORCEMENT
******************************************************
Two approaches to specification may be used. An approved products list should be used for designs
based upon product-specific data. Generic material specification should be used for designs based
upon generic properties. Approved products list approach is presented.
******************************************************

7.1 The [geogrid][geotextile][geogrid-geotextile composite] reinforcements approved for use on


this project are listed in Table 1.
7.2 Equivalent Products
7.2.1 Products submitted as equivalent for approval to use shall have documented equivalent, or
better, performance in base reinforcement or subgrade restraint in laboratory tests, full-scale field
tests, and completed project experience for the project conditions (base course material and
thickness, failure criterion, subgrade strength, etc).
7.2.2 Products submitted as equivalent shall have a documented TBR value equal or greater than
___, BCR value equal or greater than ___, or LCR value equal or greater than ___, for the
project conditions: base course thickness = ___, subbase thickness = ___, asphalt thickness =
___, failure criterion = ___ mm rut depth, and subgrade strength = ___ CBR.

Table 2. Approved [geogrid][geotextile][geogrid-geotextile composite] Reinforcement Products


Manufacturer or Distributor Specific Product Name

******************************************************
Equivalent material description (Table 2) may not be desired, or required. Particularly if more than
one [geogrid][geotextile][geogrid-geotextile composite] is listed on the approved product list, or if a
single [geogrid][geotextile][geogrid-geotextile composite] is bid against a thicker unreinforced
pavement structure option.
******************************************************

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5.9-4 Selection Considerations
For a geosynthetic to perform its intended function in a roadway, it must be able to tolerate
the stresses imposed on it during construction; i.e., the geosynthetic must have sufficient
survivability to tolerate the anticipated construction operations. Geotextile or geogrid
selection for roadways is usually controlled by survivability, and the guidelines given in
Section 5.3-6 are important in this regard. The specific geotextile property values given in
Table 5-3, 5-4 and geogrid property values given in Table 5-5 are minimums. For important
projects, you are strongly encouraged to conduct your own field trials, as described in
Section 5.3-6.

5.10 COST CONSIDERATIONS

Estimation of construction costs and benefit-cost ratios for geosynthetic-stabilized road


construction is straight-forward and basically the same as that required for alternative
pavement designs. Primary factors include the following:
1. cost of the geosynthetic;
2. cost of constructing the conventional design versus a geosynthetic design (i.e.,
stabilization requirements for conventional design versus geosynthetic design),
including
a) stabilization aggregate requirements,
b) excavation and replacement requirements,
c) operational and technical feasibility, and
d) construction equipment and time requirements;
3. cost of conventional maintenance during pavement service life versus improved
service anticipated by using geosynthetic (estimated through pavement management
programs); and
4. regional experience.

Annual cost formulas, such as the Baldock method (Illinois DOT, 1982), can be applied with
an appropriate present worth factor to obtain the present worth of future expenditures.

Cost tradeoffs should also be evaluated for different construction and geosynthetic
combinations. This should include subgrade preparation and equipment control versus
geosynthetic survivability. In general, higher-cost geosynthetics with a higher survivability
on the existing subgrade will be less expensive than the additional subgrade preparation
necessary to use lower-survivability geosynthetics.

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With the significant history of use and advancement of geosynthetics, numerous research
efforts are ongoing to quantify the cost-benefit life cycle ratio of using geosynthetics in
permanent roadway systems (e.g., Yang, 2006). In any case, the in-place cost of a separation
geosynthetic is generally on the order of $1/yd2 ($1.20/m2), stabilization geosynthetics on the
order of 1 to 3 $/yd2 (1.20 to 3.60 $/m2), and reinforcement geosynthetics on the order of 2 to
5 $/yd2 (2.40 to 6.00 $/m2). As previously indicated the cost of the pavement section is
generally $25/yd2 ($30/m2) to $100/yd2 ($120/m2), which implies that the geosynthetic cost
ranges from less than 1% to up to 5% of the initial construction cost. For any of these
applications, the geosynthetic easily extends the life of a pavement by more than 5% and will
more than make up for the cost of the geosynthetic. The ability of a geosynthetic to prevent
premature failure of the subgrade, prevent contamination of the base and/or provided
improved base support provides a low-cost insurance that planned surface rehabilitations can
be performed and design pavement life reached. Again, it is noted that competent
subgrade/base support is critical to realizing life-cycle cost benefits of surface rehabilitations
over the life of a pavement structure.

5.11 REFERENCES

AASHTO (1972). Interim Guide for the Design of Pavement Structures, American
Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington, D.C.

AASHTO (1986). AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures, American


Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C.

AASHTO (1990). Task Force 25 Report — Guide Specifications and Test Procedures for
Geotextiles, Subcommittee on New Highway Materials, American Association of State
Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington, D.C.

AASHTO (1993). AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures, American


Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C.

AASHTO (2001). Geosynthetic Reinforcement of the Aggregate Base Course of Flexible


Pavement Structures – PP 46-01, Standard Specifications for Transportation Materials
and Methods of Sampling and Testing, 26th Edition, and Provisional Standards,
American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington, D.C.

AASHTO (2006). Standard Specifications for Geotextiles - M 288, Standard Specifications


for Transportation Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing, 26th Edition,
American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials, Washington, D.C.

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AASHTO (2008). Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide, Interim Edition: A
Manual of Practice, the AASHTO Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide,
Interim Edition. American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials,
Washington, D.C. https://bookstore.transportation.org/item_details.aspx?ID=1249

Al-Qadi, I. L. and Appea, A. K. (2003). Eight-Year Field Performance of A Secondary Road


Incorporating Geosynthetics at the Subgrade-Base Interface, Transportation Research
Board-82nd Annual Meeting, January 12-16, Washington, D.C.

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6.0 PAVEMENT OVERLAYS

6.1 BACKGROUND

The second largest application of geosynthetics in North America is in asphalt overlays of


asphalt concrete (AC) and Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement structures. (The
largest single application is separation/stabilization, which utilizes an estimated 120 million
square yards {100 million square meters} of geotextile and geogrids.) It is estimated that
more than 100 million square yards (91 million square meters) of geotextiles are used in
overlays per year or about the equivalent of 140,000 lane miles (225,000 lane kilometers)
(GMA, 2007). This is indeed an impressive statistic. Geogrids and geocomposites have also
made recent inroads into this application.

The history of geosynthetics in this application accounts for much of the confusion and
skepticism. Promotion of geotextiles in overlays in the 1970s and early 1980s claimed that
the geotextile reinforced the pavement and that the reinforcement prevented cracks in the old
pavement from reflecting up through the new overlay. These claims are rarely, if ever,
presented today. The tensile moduli of the light-weight nonwoven geotextiles typically used
in this application are too low to mobilize significant tension under acceptable pavement
deflections for the geotextile to act as reinforcement. It is also commonly accepted that
geotextiles do not prevent, but rather retard reflection cracking from occurring. Geogrids are
currently being promoted on the same level as geotextiles of the 1970s. Are either of these
geosynthetics beneficial in overlay pavement construction? The answer to this question is
yes and no: they provide benefit in some applications and in others, they should not be used.

In this chapter, the functions of geotextiles, geogrids and geocomposites in pavement


overlays will be identified. Application of these mechanisms will then be examined with
respect to pavement type and condition along with the cost-benefit of the appropriate use of
these materials in reducing the rate or severity of reflection cracks. Emphasis will be placed
on proper construction to achieve optimum benefit.

6.2 PAVEMENT OVERLAYS AND REFLECTIVE CRACKING

When pavements have reached their design performance period, the surface asphalt or
concrete pavement often contains predictive fatigue cracks. The surface pavement may also
contain cracks for reasons such as excess traffic loads, thermal cracks, cracks due to frost
heave, or water problems. Cracks are problematic due to reduction in structural capacity as

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well as allowing water to enter into other (often moisture sensitive) layers of the pavement.
While a number of methods exist for rehabilitation of pavements (covered in detail in
FHWA-NHI 131008, 1998), due to the ease of installation and initial cost, the most common
treatment to extend the life of the old pavement is to overlay the surface with a new hot mix
asphalt (HMA) layer. The HMA overlay provides improved structural strength and ride
quality. Important factors in the decision to use and design the overlay are covered in
FHWA-NHI 131008 (FHWA, 1998).

A major problem encountered with HMA overlays is the potential for cracks in the old
asphalt or concrete to “reflect” through the new pavement. Reflective cracks are caused by
shear, tensile and bending stresses created in the new HMA overlay due to lateral, vertical
and/or differential crack or joint movements in the old pavement resulting from traffic
loading and changes in temperature. Low temperatures cause the underlying pavement to
contract, increasing joint and crack openings, thus, creating tensile stress in an overlay.
Traffic loadings produce a completely different type of movement in which the differential
vertical deflection created by traffic passing over a joint or working crack creates shearing
and bending stress in the overlay as shown in Figure 6-1. Movement can also be created by
foundation problems, as well as heave from expansive subgrade soils or frost; however, these
special problematic conditions cannot usually be handled with just crack reflection
treatments or even an overlay for that matter.

Figure 6-1. Shearing and bending stress in HMA overlay (Jayawickrama and Lytton, 1987).

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The key to preventing reflection cracking is to eliminate the deformation and the stresses;
however, it is highly unlikely that this can be accomplished. Therefore the best that can be
achieved is usually a reduction in the rate of appearance and the severity of the reflection
cracking. A number of different treatments are listed in FHWA-NHI 131008, including the
use of geosynthetics. As reviewed in FHWA-NHI 131008, there has been varying success
with these treatments and thus far there is no conclusive evidence to which one works the
best. It should be noted that in extreme cases (such as large temperature variations), no
treatment has been found to offer relief and the best that can be expected is temporary
mitigation. On the other hand, in mild climates where the underlying pavement does not
experience large vertical movement, a number of treatments have the potential to succeed.
Since no treatment stops reflective cracking, effectiveness of the treatment should be based
on its ability to:
• Retard the rate of reflection cracking.
• Reduce the severity of the cracks once they occur.
• Provide other benefits, such as reducing the overlay thickness or enhancing the
waterproofing capabilities of the pavement.

Two basic approaches will be reviewed in this chapter including:

1. Stress-relieving interlayer in which the stresses are dissipated at the joint or crack
before they create stress in the overlay: Nonwoven geotextiles and geosynthetic
composite strips are used for this approach.
2. Stress-resistance layer in which a high tensile modulus reinforcement is used to
resist tensile stress in the new HMA overlay, a relatively new approach not covered
in the NHI 131008 manual: Geogrids are used for this approach.

Multilayer geocomposites may provide elements of both approaches.

Reflection cracking also leads to increased infiltration of surface water into the pavement,
which in turn weakens the supporting layers. Both nonwoven geotextiles and the
geocomposites used in this application provide the added benefit of enhancing the
waterproofing capabilities of the pavement, even after the reflection cracks return. As
discussed in the following sections, this added benefit may offer equal or even greater
benefit to the longevity of the pavement than retarding the reflection cracks.

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6.3 GEOTEXTILES (a.k.a. Paving Fabric Interlayers)

6.3-1 Functions
Geotextiles, typically needlepunched nonwovens, can be installed over an asphalt tack coat
beneath a layer of HMA, and in the process, become uniformly saturated with asphalt
cement, as shown in Figure 6-2. If this asphalt saturated geotextile layer is sufficiently thick
(as defined later in this section), it will provide a cushion layer to absorb some movement
from the old pavement without transferring it to the new overlay and act as a stress-relieving
interlayer. Properly installed, asphalt-saturated geotextiles also function as a moisture barrier
that protects the underlying pavement structure from further degradation due to infiltration of
surface water. When properly installed, both primary functions,
• Protection as a stress relief interlayer; and
• Fluid barrier as a water proofing membrane
combine to extend the life of the overlay and the pavement section.

Thus, geotextiles can be used as alternatives to stress relieving rubberized asphalts, stress-
arresting granular layers and seal coats for retarding reflection cracks and controlling surface
moisture infiltration in pavement overlays. Geotextiles can also be used as interlayers on
new pavements to reduce water infiltration. The conditions of using this treatment with
HMA overlays over old asphalt concrete pavements and rigid concrete pavements as well as
use with chip seals over unpaved and paved roads along with design, installation, and
specification are reviewed in the following sections.

Figure 6-2. Geotextiles (a.k.a. Paving Fabric) in rehabilitated pavement section.

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6.3-2 Asphalt Concrete (AC) Pavement Applications
When geotextiles are used with HMA overlays of AC pavements, they can be effective in
controlling (retarding) reflection cracking of low- and medium-severity alligator-cracked
pavements. They also may be useful for controlling reflection of thermal cracks, although
they are not as effective in retarding reflection of cracks due to significant horizontal or
vertical movements. (AASHTO, 1993)

The variable performance of geotextile overlays, and the divergent opinions regarding
benefits, is strongly influenced by the following factors (Barksdale, 1991):

• Type and extent of existing pavement distress, including crack widths.


• Extent of remedial work performed on the old pavement, such as crack sealing and/or
filling, pothole repair, and replacement of failed base and subgrade areas.
• Overlay thickness.
• Variability of pavement structural strength from one section to another.
• Climate.

Obviously, an additional factor is the geotextile. These factors are summarized below.

Distress Type (Barksdale, 1991): Geotextiles generally have performed best when used for
load-related fatigue distress (e.g., closely spaced alligator cracking). Fatigue cracks should
be less than 0.12 in (3 mm) wide for best results. Cracks greater than 0.4 in (10 mm) wide
require stiff fillers. Geotextiles used to retard thermal cracking have, in general, been found
to be ineffective.

Remediation of Old Pavement (AASHTO, 1993): Much of the deterioration that occurs in
overlays is the result of unrepaired distress in the existing pavement prior to the overlay.
Distressed areas of the existing pavement should be repaired if the distress is likely to affect
performance of the overlay within a few years. The amount of pre-overlay repair is related to
the overlay design. The engineer should consider the cost implications of pre-overlay repair
versus overlay design. Guidelines on pre-overlay repair techniques are included in FHWA-
NHI 131008.

Crack Movement (FHWA-NHI 131008): Several studies have indicated that the effective-
ness of geosynthetics is related to the magnitude of differential vertical movement at the joint
or crack, with a range of movement on the order of 3 mil to 8 mil (0.08 mm to 0.2 mm)
providing effective performance. The lower end is consistent with the Asphalt Institute’s
recommendation of limiting the differential vertical deflection at the joints to 2 mil (0.05
mm) to achieve good performance from an overlay if no treatment is used. Where existing

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joints or cracks experience large horizontal or differential vertical movement, cracks tend to
reflect through the geosynthetic, eliminating its effectiveness. However, if the geotextile
does not rupture, some degree of waterproofing will still be provided even if the overlay is
cracked.

Effect of Overlay Thickness: Pavement performance is quite sensitive to the overlay


thickness, either with or without a geotextile interlayer. Correspondingly, the benefits of a
geotextile in retarding reflective cracking will increase with increasing thickness of the
overlay. Geotextiles are most effective in retarding reflective cracking in overlays that are
1.5 in (38 mm) thick or greater. These observations, as reported by Barksdale (1991), are
based upon extensive research conducted by Caltrans (Predoehl, 1990). The California
results imply that a geotextile interlayer is equivalent to adding 1.2 in (30 mm) of asphalt
concrete to the overlay.

Variability of Pavement Structural Strength (Barksdale, 1991): The structural strength


of existing pavement, and, therefore, required overlay thickness, often varies greatly along a
roadway. The significant effect of such variation on overlay performance has not often been
considered in the past. This oversight likely contributes to some of the diverse opinions
regarding geotextile benefits in asphalt overlays. (Variation of pavement strength along a
roadway should be addressed for future demonstration or test sections of overlays.)

Climate: It has been observed (Aldrich, 1986) that geotextile interlayers have generally
performed better in warm and mild climates than in cold climates. However, the beneficial
effects of reducing water infiltration - a principal function of the geotextile - were not
considered in Aldrich's (1986) study. Successful installation and beneficial performance of
geotextile interlayers in cold regions, such as Alaska, challenge the generality regarding
climate.

Geotextile: Lightweight (e.g., 4 oz/yd2 {140 g/m2}) nonwoven geotextiles are typically used
for asphalt overlays. These asphalt-impregnated geotextiles primarily function as a moisture
barrier. Lighter weight geotextiles provide little, if any, stress relief. Use of heavier,
nonwoven geotextiles can provide greater cushioning or stress-relieving membrane
interlayer-like benefits, in addition to moisture-barrier functions. However, the weight
should be limited to no greater than about 6 oz/yd2 (200 g/m2) to avoid the potential for
delaminating and shearing in the plane of the geotextile.

6.3-3 Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Applications


Geotextiles are used with HMA overlays of crack/seat-fractured plain Portland cement
concrete (PCC) pavement to help control reflection cracking (AASHTO, 1993). A review of

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various studies by Maxim Technologies (1997) confirms the successful use in this
application. Caltrans has found a successful practice for this type of overlay to consist of
placing approximately 1 in. (25 mm) of an asphalt concrete leveling course, a non-woven
fabric saturated with an AR-4000 asphalt cement which serves as an interlayer, 4 in. (100
mm) of dense graded asphalt concrete, and 1 in. (25 mm) of an open-graded asphalt concrete
surface course. The expected satisfactory performance period for this 6 in. (150 mm) thick
overlay is about 10 years. An evaluation of this overlay design with an increased thickness
for heavily trafficked freeways is provided by Monismith and Long (1999).

Geotextiles also may be used with HMA overlays of jointed plain concrete pavement (JPCP)
and of jointed reinforced concrete pavement (JRCP) to control reflective cracking. The
effectiveness with these pavem