Failure and remedy of column-supported embankment: Case study

Radoslaw L. Michalowski, Andrzej Wojtasik, Adam Duda, Antoni Florkiewicz, Dowon Park

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19 Scopus citations


A new section of a freeway was constructed as part of the European route E372 in the eastern region of Poland. One portion of the project required construction of an embankment over organic clay of a thickness of up to approximately 9.5 m. Controlled modulus columns were chosen to transfer the load from the embankment to the deeper and stronger soil deposits. Excessive settlements were detected during embankment construction, and as a result one section of the embankment needed to be reconstructed before completion of the road structure. Excessive settlements continued after the road structure was completed, particularly at the locations of culverts; at one location displacement reached 20 cm within several months. The disruption of the load transfer from the embankment to the columns at culvert locations was the likely cause of this serviceability failure. Simulations of consolidation settlement of the soft soil between the columns at one location indicated that the soil carried as much as approximately 40% of the load, thus only 60% of the load was transferred to the columns. Large culverts placed above the columns interfered with arching formation, affecting the load transfer process. In addition, discontinuity in the load transfer platform may have contributed to reduced effectiveness of the column support system. Other factors are also discussed in the paper. Remedial design included replacement of some volume of the embankment with expanded polystyrene (EPS) block geofoam (lightweight fill). At one location, in addition to EPS, drilled shafts were used to transfer the load to deeper deposits. After completion of the remedial construction, the expressway was put into service. Within the following 8 months, pavement settlements of 6-14 mm were recorded, and no distress to the pavement was reported in the following 12 months ending in early 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Article number05017008
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering - ASCE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Column-supported embankment
  • Consolidation settlement
  • Culverts
  • Expanded polystyrene (EPS) block geofoam
  • Geosynthetics
  • Geotechnical case history
  • Lightweight fill
  • Organic clay


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