Cellular Geosynthetics in Highway Applications

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a closed-cell, polymeric ('plastic') foam. It was invented circa 1950 and is now a commodity material that is manufactured worldwide for numerous, diverse commercial applications. In its generic block-molded product form (EPS-block), it is the geofoam material and product of choice as lightweight fill for earthwork construction such as highway embankments on soft ground. It has been used for this geosynthetic-functional application for over 40 years since the first documented project in Norway in 1972. This mature, well-established geotechnology is now widely known and used worldwide, with exponential growth occurring throughout the U.S. and Canada during the past 20 years. However, there are many other potential functional applications and uses of not only EPS-block geofoam but a broader range of cellular-geosynthetic (geofoam and geocomb) materials and products in highway-related applications that are less well known and used to date. This paper highlights these lesser-known capabilities of cellular geosynthetics that have already been used and proven in practice and may be of interest to geo-professionals involved in transportation-related projects. Also presented in this paper are highlights of new developments related to the well-known and established uses of cellular geosynthetics such as the use of EPSblock geofoam for soft-ground applications. Particular topics of relevance and interest addressed in this paper include presentations and discussions of: 1) results from the latest National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)-funded research into broader uses of EPS-block geofoam in slope stabilization, not limited to softground conditions. This research included development of an updated version of the first-of-its-kind material and construction standard developed a decade earlier as part of the original NCHRP-funded research into embankments on soft ground; 2) reduction of lateral earth pressures behind both new and existing earth-retaining structures of all kinds, e.g. free-standing retaining walls, conventional jointed-bridge abutments, and integral and semi-integral bridge abutments; 3) compressible inclusions to reduce both vertical and horizontal stresses on structures from expansive soil and rock; 4) control of seasonal ground freezing beneath pavements and behind earth-retaining structures; 5) protection of rock and snow sheds from slide and other falling debris; 6) important issues concerning failures in project applications; manufacturing and construction quality; and material standards and generic construction specifications that have emerged as hot-button issues throughout the U.S. in particular in recent years.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: pp 459-478
  • Monograph Title: Proceedings of the 64th Highway Geology Symposium (HGS 2013)

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01644033
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 24 2017 9:46AM