Building on shaky ground

A one-mile stretch of highway along Puget Sound in Seattle, known as the Alaskan Way Viaduct, has been rebuilt in a such a way that took into account the best foundations to deal with the region's deep, soft soils, as well as the entire structure's response to the potential destruction of an earthquake. The viaduct serves Seattle's city ports and sports stadium in an industrial area, crossing active rail lines, roadways and utilities. The resulting route can now be used as a bypass during construction of the viaduct's replacement, which is a bored tunnel. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam was used as a lightweight fill to stabilize the embankment during construction. The EPS blocks are covered with plastic as protection against fuel or oil spills after placement, and then a roadway pavement section is constructed over them. Geotechnical challenges of this project were overcome through innovative design and construction approaches, as well as coordination between the engineering firm involved and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).


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  • Accession Number: 01494338
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ASCE
  • Created Date: Sep 23 2013 9:00AM