Performance Comparison of Abutment and Retaining Wall Drainage Systems

Control of water infiltration and providing adequate drainage are critical to the performance of retaining walls and abutment walls. Current Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) practice for drainage of structures specifies the use of a two-foot porous backfill with filter fabric, which has a long performance history. ODOT is seeking alternative drainage systems that are more cost- and time-effective, durable, and at the same time, have comparable or superior drainage capability compared to current practice. A prefabricated composite drainage system (PCDS) is proposed in this research as an alternative structure drainage system. The current state of practice of drainage systems for retaining wall and bridge abutment structures is evaluated through a survey of county agencies in Ohio. Commercially available PCDS products as well as specifications for PCDS used by other state DOTs are also reviewed and synthesized. Laboratory testing and evaluation of select PCDS products are conducted to improve the understanding of their properties. It is found that tested values for some properties of some products do not match those listed by the manufacturers. Recommendations on the selection of proper standard testing methods and suggestions on the selection of factory of safety in design are discussed. Field performance of the PCDS system and the traditional drainage system are evaluated with in situ instruments including piezometers, tiltmeters and flumes. The data analysis suggests that the PCDS has comparable drainage capability to the traditional system. Field observation and feedback from the contractor reveal that installation of PCDS systems are less labor-intensive and more time-effective. Cost analysis from ODOT historical bidding data and the actual cost at the tested sites demonstrates that a PCDS system costs 40% less than the traditional process. Based on the findings, draft specifications were developed to specify the material and construction requirements for a PCDS system.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 200p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01667883
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA/OH-2017-36
  • Contract Numbers: State Job Number 135025
  • Created Date: Apr 3 2018 2:36PM