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Relative Operational Performance of Geosynthetics Used as Subgrade Stabilization

Started: December, 2011 Ended: July, 2014 Project ID #4W3850 Status: Completed


The main objective of this project is to determine material properties of geosynthetics that affect in-field performance of geosynthetics used for subgrade stabilization, so that DOT personnel can objectively and confidently specify appropriate geosynthetics based on material properties and cost for a specific situation, while also allowing competition from different manufacturers.


State departments of transportation (DOTs) routinely use geosynthetics for subgrade stabilization. This construction practice involves placing an appropriately specified geosynthetic on a weak subgrade prior to placement of roadway subbase. The geosynthetic provides stabilization of the subgrade by increasing the load-carrying capacity of the system and maintaining separation between the soft subgrade and subbase materials. Subgrade stabilization allows for a firm construction platform to be built with less aggregate and less construction time as compared to construction without the stabilization geosynthetic. There is a general consensus concerning the effectiveness of geosynthetics in this application; however, there is a lack of understanding and agreement on the material’s properties needed for performance. Those properties should be specified in order to ensure its beneficial use and to allow a broad range of products to be considered. Many state DOTs currently allow both geogrids and geotextiles to be specified. As an example, at the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), the current specification for a geogrid does not follow a standard specification; rather, it is written on a project-specific basis. It is typically written for a biaxial geogrid and specifies minimum values for the principal properties of ultimate tensile strength, strength at 2 percent strain, aperture opening size and junction strength. For a geotextile, a standard specification is used and is based on survivability properties and permittivity values. In order to provide for the most economical geosynthetic selection while minimizing conflicts and promoting competitiveness, MDT and other states are interested in conducting a study to examine the performance of various geosynthetics for subgrade stabilization with the aim of relating this performance to material properties that can be incorporated into their standard specification to allow for a broad and economical use of geosynthetic products for a specific application.


Sponsors & Partners

  • Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Sponsor

Part of: Infrastructure Maintenance and Materials

Project Tagged In: geosynthetics, material properties, relative field performance

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