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Technical paper: Reinforced earth - practical design considerations

By Colin J F P Jones, West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council

This paper was first published in GE’s September 1978 issue


The choice of reinforced earth for any particular application is a balance between aesthetic, economic and technical considerations. Each situation should be considered on its merits and it may be necessary to design both a conventional and a reinforced earth solution and offer both for tender.

Fig. 1 shows a situation in which a reinforced earth replacement for a conventional piled abutment is estimated to offer a 50% saving on sub-structure costs. It should be noted however that the superstructure costs for the reinforced earth solution would be slightly higher than those for the conventional construction which could use a shorter deck. In addition, if the removal of the piles from the scheme resulted in differential settlement across the abutment, then a low torsion deck would have to be used. However, experience in West Yorkshire has shown that low torsion decks can accommodate a 1 in 80 twist and can be constructed at a lower cost than conventional decks. 

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