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Are material shortages delaying your road construction projects? Here is how to stay on schedule and within budget.

Written by: Bryan Wedin, P.E., Chief Design Engineer

sand filled GEOWEBRoad construction is booming, and this trend is expected to remain strong due to high demand and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which includes investments across many sectors, including public infrastructure.

Along with this boom, the road construction industry has been dealing with inflation-related cost increases and limited availability of construction materials. The industry has been impacted by supply-chain interruptions and shortages for many roadway materials including lime, cement, and even aggregate. These materials are typically used for roadway base construction, which means road construction projects that use these materials may be subject to delays. Due to these shortages and delays, on-site material or sand-filled GEOWEB® geocells can provide a cost-effective, readily available substitute for base materials–especially where native subgrade conditions consist of weak or soft soils.

GEOWEB® Geocells for Roadway Base Stabilization

The GEOWEB geocells have been used for load support and foundation applications worldwide for more than 40 years. Developed in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in the late 1970s, Presto co-invented the technology now known as geocells or a cellular confinement system (CCS). The early applications of geocells consisted primarily of stabilized, expedient sand roads for military vehicles. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Army deployed over 6 million square feet of the geocellular system to stabilize the shifting desert sands and provide mobility for troops and military vehicles. At the time, the system was dubbed Sandgrid due to its readily available sand infill.

Both the USACE and Desert Storm forces found a solution for building fast access roads across sand landscapes. By utilizing the principle of soil confinement to enhance soil strength, the GEOWEB System turns sand into a load-supporting composite structure that can support heavy-loaded vehicles under repeated load cycles. Since then, the GEOWEB System has also been adopted by State and Federal roadway authorities for domestic road construction across the United States.

Presto Geosystems has endeavored to improve and innovate geocell technology, creating the modern-day GEOWEB® Soil Stabilization System. The GEOWEB geocells are made of 100% high-density virgin polyethylene (HDPE) and do not contain any recycled material, fillers, or exotic polymers—all of which can negatively affect performance. Complete with a full line of accessories for ease of installation and long-term performance, the GEOWEB Soil Stabilization System is the most advanced geocell technology in the industry.

Sand-Filled GEOWEB Geocells for Soil Stabilization

sand filled geocellsGeocells are three-dimensional honeycomb-like structures made of ultrasonically welded strips of HDPE that confine infill material over a specified cell depth and diameter. Through confinement, the GEOWEB system distributes loads laterally and controls shearing, as well as lateral and vertical infill movement.

Compared to planar geosynthetic products such as geogrids—which commonly rely on expensive imported high-quality aggregate—geocells are highly versatile and can be filled with a variety of commonly available and economical infill materials, including sand.

In many cases, geocells allow for the beneficial reuse of on-site materials, eliminating the need to purchase expensive aggregate or imported structural fill. These advantages not only offer the potential for savings in overall construction costs but also contribute to a significant reduction in carbon emissions due to less aggregate/fill processing, transportation, and handling.

The illustration below provides a comparison of four structurally equivalent aggregate sections over a subgrade with a CBR of 0.5%.

GEOWEB Cost Benefit

As shown, the unreinforced aggregate option would require more than 36 inches of aggregate to achieve minimal stability, and the planar geosynthetic option (geogrid + geotextile) would require 26 inches of aggregate. In contrast, the GEOWEB geocells reduce the total section thickness to only 15 inches, and where suitable on-site material is available, it is possible to limit imported aggregate to just the wearing course.

GEOWEB Diagram

The GEOWEB geocells dramatically increase the shear resistance of the infill, which allows the use of lower-quality fill to carry concentrated loads that would otherwise require crushed aggregate to prevent localized, near-surface shear failure. The cellular structure also distributes concentrated loads to surrounding cells, thus reducing the stress on the subgrade directly beneath the load and the required total thickness of the structure.

 

Let Our Engineers Run Design Calculations on Your Next Project. See the Cost Savings For Yourself!

Presto Geosystems’ engineering team works closely with you to provide free project evaluations and on-site installation support. The team at Presto Geosystems is here to provide engineering support from the preliminary stages through construction. Use our free online tools to keep your projects moving forward. The project evaluation will deliver a technically sound, cost-effective solution based on four decades of accredited research and project experience. Please contact our knowledgeable staff and network of qualified distributors to discuss your project needs today.

Request Free Project Evaluation

Presto Geosystems Announces Launch of the ATRA® Wall Key

We are thrilled to announce our newest innovation at Presto Geosystems: the ATRA® Wall Key (patent pending) for the GEOWEB® Retaining Wall System.

The ATRA Wall Key is used to connect adjacent GEOWEB Retaining Wall sections through the GEOWEB material slots (I-slots). The ATRA Wall Key includes an integrated washer at the base of the handle for coverage of the I-slots when connecting adjacent wall sections, frictional barbs for an improved interlock with the GEOWEB sections, and an ergonomic handle with S-shaped contouring for ease of installation.

ATRA tan and green wall keys

The ATRA Wall Keys are the most effective way to connect the GEOWEB Retaining Wall sections, ensuring the long-term success of your project. Made of non-reactive, chemically inert high-density polyethylene, the ATRA Wall Keys provide a more secure and permanent mechanical connection over staples or zip ties, and they are the only geocell connector specifically designed for use in exposed wall face applications. Formulated to withstand weathering and ultraviolet radiation, the ATRA Wall Keys will not corrode or photodegrade, even when exposed to harsh environments. Securing sections with the Wall Keys is faster than using staples or zip ties, requires no tools, and can be completed by one installer with one easy turn.

The new ATRA Wall Keys offer a natural-looking aesthetic by blending seamlessly into our green or tan wall fascia options.

CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION
Presto Geosystems
Michael Dickey, PE, Director
E: michael.dickey@prestogeo.com
P: 904-910-1002

“Or Equal” Substitutions in Geosynthetics: Evaluating the Contractor’s Proposed Alternative Amidst Global Supply Chain Disruptions & Rising Costs

GEOWEB sand road

Written by: Michael J. Dickey, P.E., Director of Presto Geosystems

As supply chain issues and project delays continue to wreak havoc in the global geosynthetics industry, Presto Geosystems has prepared this “reboot” of our tips for evaluating “or equal” substitutions to help you navigate the decision-making process when confronted with a proposed alternative geosynthetic product. According to a recent special feature article from Geosynthetic News Alerts (GNA), more oversight and diligence is needed—now more than ever—as deceptive products and inferior raw materials continue to find their way into global markets. According to GNA “Distributors and installers that place orders in good faith—particularly with overseas vendors—may wind up with rolls of geosynthetics they can’t use, and no wriggle room in compressed delivery timelines to find alternatives or otherwise rectify errors.” To protect against this, GNA goes on to emphasize the importance of vetting geosynthetics suppliers to maintain quality metrics. In light of this, Presto offers this reboot of our five tips for evaluating “or equal” substitutions to help you keep your project on the path to success amidst the chaos.

Tip #1: Review Product Datasheets Closely (Be Wary of Disclaimers)

Many design professionals tend to focus on the numbers shown on a product datasheet and may even have an implicit trust in the information provided. Unfortunately, some geosynthetics manufacturers and distributors will use this to their advantage. After an initial review of the product data, you will have a sense of whether the product at least appears to meet the project specs on the surface. However, it is imperative to dig a little deeper. Pay close attention to any disclaimer language in the fine print at the bottom of the page. Disclaimers that include statements such as “…specifications may change without notice” are a red flag. Manufacturers who invest in quality assurance programs typically don’t need to provide this type of disclaimer, and are willing to stand behind their published product data.

geocell disclaimer warningTip #2: Learn More About the Product Manufacturer

Starting with a few simple questions, you can obtain a sense of whether or not the product is “tried-and-true,” relatively new, or entirely unproven. Below are a few questions that can help you learn more.

  • Who actually manufacturers the product? This is particularly important when working with organizations that claim to be both a distributor and manufacturer of geosynthetics products. It is important to understand specifically which products they make versus those they distribute or offer under private label agreements (or OEM license agreements). Most importantly, remember that just because a company’s logo is on a product datasheet does not mean they are the manufacturer. Only accept product datasheets with the manufacturer’s information on it—not the distributor!
  • Can the manufacturer provide project references or case studies demonstrating the proposed substitution has been successfully used on similar projects elsewhere?
  • Can the manufacturer provide calculations demonstrating the proposed alternative will meet design objectives?
  • Can the manufacturer provide technical assistance during installation and provide support if unexpected challenges should arise during construction?

Tip #3: Look for Markings of Product Quality & Manufacturer Integrity

Indications of product quality such as the CE marking and ISO certification are useful in establishing an increased level of confidence that the manufacturer holds product quality and data integrity in high regard.

  • CE Mark – The CE Mark is an EU-mandated regulatory mark declaring the manufacturer’s product data is trustworthy and must be carried on products sold in the European market. While not required for geosynthetic products sold outside of the EU, it can provide a quick “gut check” as less reputable manufacturers will have difficulty obtaining this mark. The CE mark should include the number of the certification body beneath it, and the manufacturer should be able to provide a valid Certificate of Conformity of Factory Production Control upon request. The CE certificate will identify which products are included, as well as the location where the products were manufactured.
  • ISO 9001 Certification – For a manufacturer, obtaining certification under the ISO 9001 standard requires a significant commitment (and investment) in establishing and maintaining a comprehensive quality management program. Comprised of quality management procedures (QMPs), the program must consider every step of the production process, from the receipt and handling of raw materials to the finished product. Manufacturers who are ISO-certified should be able to provide a valid Certificate of Registration upon request. The ISO certificate will identify the name of the manufacturer, certificate number, certifying body, and a statement indicating the manufacturer’s quality management system complies with the requirements of ISO 9001 for the specific products of interest.
  • Certificate of Analysis (COA) – Implementing a robust ISO-certified quality management program typically requires continuous quality assurance and quality control testing in order for produced goods to be approved for release from the manufacturing facility. As part of this testing, a Certificate of Analysis, or COA, should be available for all manufactured lot numbers. Accordingly, reputable geosynthetics manufacturers should be able to provide COAs for products that ship to your project site, thereby providing documentation that the goods received were tested and approved in accordance with their ISO-certified quality management program.

Tip #4: Get Third-Party Data

This typically begins with a request to the contractor or manufacturer to provide third-party data to confirm the results are consistent with the product datasheet, and that the proposed substitution will perform as advertised. With manufacturer-provided data, it is important to verify that the results are from an accredited third-party laboratory. If you are not comfortable with the data provided, or have lingering doubts, request that the contractor provide representative samples of the material for further inspection and testing. Provided the project budget allows, an ideal laboratory test program would include analysis of the samples of the proposed substitution as well as the originally-specified product. Including the originally-specified product as the baseline for comparison allows for a comprehensive evaluation of the results, and ultimately supports in making a well-informed decision.

Tip #5: Prepare a Summary of Your Evaluation

Before responding to project stakeholders, it can be helpful to prepare a summary of your evaluation laying out your findings and providing the rationale behind your assessment. We’ve prepared a checklist and product scoring sheet incorporating the considerations above that can be used as a starting point for completing your evaluation. You can download this form using the link below.

Download the Checklist >>


Read “The Significance of High-Quality Standards” >>

How Geosynthetics Are Uniquely Poised to Help Alleviate Congestion at U.S. Ports

Written by: Michael J. Dickey, PE, Director and Bryan Wedin, PE, Chief Design Engineer

On May 6, 2022, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) released an amended Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), allocating over $234 million for port infrastructure development in 2022. Adding to the previously appropriated amount of $450 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, or Bipartisan Infrastructure Law), this will bring the total amount available for port improvement projects to $684 million for FY2022.

The significance of this investment comes at a crucial time. According to the American Association of Port Authorities, the pandemic has laid bare the need for a transport system that is able to surge and stretch across all links—from sea, to land, to rail, to warehouse, to consumer. The question is, how can this funding be used to meet this need quickly and cost-effectively? The answer may lie in a strategy implemented in 2021 in the state of Georgia to alleviate congestion at the Port of Savannah. The Georgia Port Authority, in partnership with Norfolk Southern, implemented a solution that has caught the attention of other U.S. port authorities and Class I railroads using what is being referred to as “pop-up container yards”.

What Is a Pop-Up Container Yard?

In a recent article featured on Freightwaves.com, pop-up container yards are described as “mini-versions of inland ports where containers are brought to strategically located sites by intermodal rail, shortening the distance trucks have to travel to collect imports or drop off exports and reducing traffic in and around busy seaports. The concept essentially brings the seaport closer to manufacturing, agriculture and population centers.” While, on the surface, pop-up container yards may seem like a very pragmatic solution to a complex problem, developing one of these sites can come with its own set of unique challenges.

container yard

One such challenge relates to existing ground conditions. From a geotechnical perspective, the ground conditions may not be suitable for the heavy demands of container handling and storage operations. And unless an alternate location has been identified that is better suited, project engineers and designers must often evaluate the need for ground improvement options capable of supporting heavy vehicle loads over soft or unstable soils. The good news is that the GEOWEB® Soil Stabilization System was invented specifically for this purpose. The GEOWEB Cellular Confinement System (CCS) is an American-made geosynthetic product manufactured by Presto Geosystems that has been in use for over forty years.

GEOWEB Geocells Improve Bearing Capacity Over Soft or Unstable Soils 

Created through a collaboration between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Presto Products Co., the GEOWEB system was designed to address the needs of the U.S. military to build access roads capable of supporting heavy vehicle loads over soft or unstable soils. The system’s deep cellular network controls both the horizontal and vertical movement of unstable base soils. In load-support applications, when a static or dynamic load is applied to a geocell-reinforced layer, lateral earth pressures are mobilized and transferred across a three-dimensional network of interconnected cells. The layer essentially performs like a composite material, facilitating a phenomenon known as the mattress effect.

Success Story: CSX Intermodal Facility in Charleston

The CSX Charleston Intermodal Yard required base reinforcement due to poor and unstable subgrade conditions. Shallow surficial soils comprised very loose sandy soils that were inadequate to support the operation of reach stackers used in regular lifting and moving containers. In addition, a similar condition was prevalent in another area of the site designated for chassis parking. Both areas were prone to significant rutting due to the inherent instability of shallow surficial soils.

The Presto Geosystems’ design staff worked closely with CSX to provide design recommendations based on sub base strength, vehicle loadings, and frequency of traffic. After a thorough review of the geotechnical report, it was determined that on-site material could be beneficially reused as infill in the GEOWEB system.

Eliminating the need to import costly aggregate and structural fill led to significant cost savings, and yard downtime was substantially reduced. Minimizing downtime was especially important due to the high volume of tractor-trailers the facility handles daily. The reach stacker area used an enhanced woven geotextile, three-inch base, six-inch GEOWEB panels, and a three-inch wearing surface. The chassis parking area utilized a high-strength woven geotextile, six-inch GEOWEB panels, and a two-inch wearing surface. The GEOWEB system stabilized a total of 1.75 acres. Both areas have required minimal maintenance and continue to function as designed. Both areas have required minimal maintenance and continue to function as designed.

Protect Your Project Schedule and Reduce Costs with GEOWEB® Geocells

geoweb base reduction

As demonstrated by the success at the CSX intermodal facility, where a suitable source of clean sand is available, the GEOWEB cells can be infilled with on-site material in place of expensive aggregate, drastically reducing imported aggregate volumes altogether. Even at sites where a suitable source of clean sand is not readily available, geocells offer the potential to reduce the required thickness of the base layer in a load support application by as much as 50%. In both cases, project stakeholders can realize cost savings, as well as a potential reduction of schedule-related risks, particularly where the availability of suitable aggregate, or availability of truck drivers to transport said material, might otherwise be outside of the project decision-maker’s control.

Compared to planar geosynthetic products such as geogrids—which commonly rely on expensive, imported high-quality aggregate—geocells are highly versatile and can be filled with a variety of commonly available and economical infill options. Infill options include sand, crushed aggregate, recycled concrete, pulverized debris, recycled asphalt, or other locally sourced materials. The illustration below provides a comparison of four structurally equivalent aggregate sections over a subgrade with a CBR of 0.5%.

As illustrated, the unreinforced aggregate option would require more than 36 inches of aggregate to achieve minimal stability, and the planar geosynthetic option (geogrid + geotextile) would require 26 inches of aggregate. In contrast, the GEOWEB geocells reduce the total section thickness to only 15 inches, and where suitable on-site material (OSM) is available, it is possible to limit imported aggregate to just the wearing course.  

A Value-Engineered Solution for Your Pop-Up Container Yard Project

The GEOWEB geocells can be added to pop-up container yard projects to provide a value-engineered solution for both paved and unpaved areas. This not only reduces construction costs, but can also help keep your project on track when aggregate shortages and limited availability of truck drivers threaten your project schedule.

Project-specific recommendations are influenced by loading, subgrade soils, traffic frequency, and infill type. The engineering team at Presto Geosystems works closely with engineers and project planners, offering free project evaluation services and on-site installation support. Our recommendations will deliver a technically sound, cost-effective solution based on over four decades of accredited research and testing data. Please contact our knowledgeable staff and network of qualified distributors and representatives to discuss your project needs today.

Contact: Bryan Wedin, PE, Chief Design Engineer

Dam Structure Safety Installation and Repair Using Advanced Geosynthetic Technology

Written By: Samantha Justice, P.E.

damDams and Spillways Are a Critical Part of U.S. Infrastructure

With estimates of 84,000 structures nationwide, dams and spillways are essential for controlling flooding, water distribution and management, and providing hydroelectric power. Unfortunately, these structures cannot last forever. The average age of dams and spillways in the US is 57 years, seven years over the typical 50-year lifespan of these structures. Aging infrastructure can lead to serious consequences if safety precautions are not taken, or measures are not implemented to address identified problems in a timely manner. The most important measure that any dam manager can apply is continual inspection and upkeep.

The US Army Corps of Engineers Infrastructure Report Card rating for 2021 was a C-, and the health of dam structures was a significant part of that low rating. State and federal regulations provide a framework for the assessment and maintenance of dam and spillway structures-at a minimum yearly audit inspections that identify areas that need repair or replacement are required. Performing these repairs can help extend the lifetime of dams to help keep essential services in place without excessive cost or increased failure potential.

Understanding Areas of Concern for Existing Structures

The vast majority of America’s rivers and lakes have existing dams and spillways, and as such, very few new structures are being built. With new construction, safety measures can be incorporated during the design phase to extend the lifetime of the project and help prevent failures. The true threat is with existing structures that have gone past their intended lifetimes or have seen areas of potential failure.

A recent example of the potential for catastrophic damage due to a dam failure is the 2017 Oroville Dam crisis in Northern California. Extremely heavy rainfall over a number of days raised the level of Lake Oroville, increasing the flow over the main spillway to above-average levels.  Almost immediately, damage was observed in the lower half of the spillway, with a large section of the concrete path collapsing. The emergency spillway was utilized to help prevent further damage to the main spillway, however, excessive erosion occurred to the emergency spillway path, and emergency repairs were subsequently required to address damage in both spillway areas. Further damage occurred when more rainfall increased the lake level yet again, including blocking the downstream river and requiring the immediate shutdown of the Oroville hydroelectric power plant. Luckily, total collapse of the dam did not occur, but more than 180,000 residents of the Feather River Basin were required to evacuate for multiple days, and over the next year, more than 1,000 people worked more than 2 million hours to rebuild the spillways to ensure the safety of downstream communities.

With the passage of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, states will have access to funds to complete repairs and upgrades of aging dams and spillways before failure can occur. The failure at the Oroville Dam was preceded by rejection of a 2005 upgrade proposal to build a concrete emergency spillway that could have handled the high water flows seen in the 2017 event. Re-evaluating existing structures to ensure that they are still able to withstand 100-year and 500-year flood events is crucial to the longevity of the dam network within the US. Maintaining both upstream and downstream dam faces and spillways is an ongoing process, fighting against wave action and erosion, as well as any potential impact damage caused during storm events. Even simple maintenance of roads and work pads over dams can have a lasting effect on the health of these structures by allowing workers access to inspect and repair the structures quickly and easily.

GEOWEB® Geocells Are a Repair Solution for Dams and Spillway Sites

GEOWEB geocell technology is a versatile geosynthetic system that can be used to create long-term solutions for many of the common dam and spillway problem areas. Geocells function as the support structure for unpaved roadways, capable of supporting maintenance and repair vehicles. They also function as surface erosion control solutions, preventing the formation of rills or the collapse of unstable soils due to water flow, wave action, and storm events.

charleroi dam geocells

Charleroi Dam

 

GEOWEB geocells can be placed on the upstream face of a dam structure to mitigate the effects of wave action on the dam, supporting existing riprap areas, or replacing them entirely with vegetation, gravel or concrete. The flexibility of the GEOWEB system allows for the use of mixed infill materials, such as topsoil above normal water levels for grass growth and small aggregate below the water level for erosion prevention. Comprised of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), GEOWEB geocells are formulated for long term durability to resist weathering, chemical attack, and ultraviolet radiation, and are therefore suitable for use in applications where the material will be subjected to cyclic wetting and drying, permanently submerged, or full sun exposure. The material is not prone to degradation or corrosion due to environmental factors, and can be placed on the downstream face of, or within, a spillway structure. The system is also compatible with concrete infill to accommodate extremely high flow velocities. For comparison, Table 1 summarizes allowable velocities and shear stresses for various channel lining alternatives.

 Comparison of allowable velocity and shear stress for channel lining alternatives

In emergency spillway areas, topsoil infill with vegetation can be used to allow for a natural camouflaged look, while still preventing erosion and uncontrolled water flow, and outperforming traditional unreinforced channel lining alternatives.

Staging areas and maintenance roads are also integral parts of a dam site, and when necessary, these features provide vital access and adequate ground support for vehicles and heavy equipment to perform inspections, routine maintenance, and repairs. The GEOWEB system can be used in a variety of load support applications, including unpaved access roads, laydown areas, and parking lots. Reinforcing these roads means significantly reduced maintenance requirements, reduced rutting, and access to areas that might otherwise be unable to support heavy loads due to soft soil conditions. Minimizing stresses on top of dam structures is critically important to preventing the formation of cracks or slumps within the structure that could lead to failure. The GEOWEB road system can be integrated with the slope protection system on the upstream and downstream faces of the dam for a continuously protected berm from water, vehicle, and impact loads.

mud lake dam geocells

Mud Lake Dam

Design Support & Resources for the GEOWEB System Applications

The engineering team at Presto Geosystems works closely with engineers and project planners, offering free project evaluation services and on-site support. Our recommendations will deliver a technically sound, cost-effective solution based on four decades of accredited research and testing data. Please contact our knowledgeable staff and network of qualified distributors and representatives to discuss your project needs today.

Related Articles and Case Studies

Mud Lake Dam Rehabilitation
Olivenhain Dam Power Line Access

References

United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, (2007) Part 654 Stream Restoration Design, National Engineering Handbook, Chapter 8, Threshold Channel Design, (viewed 23 March 2022 and available https://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=17784.wba as a link directly to Chapter 8). Table 8-11 “Allowable velocity and shear stress for selected lining materials” referenced from 8-37.

Colorado State University, Engineering Research Center (2009) Hydraulic Testing and Data Report for GEOWEB 30v with Concrete, research summary courtesy Presto Geosystems, (viewed 23 March 2022 and available Colorado State University Testing PDF)

Sustainable Vegetated Channels = The Death of Rip Rap

Rip rap is a common channel protection method because of its resistance to most flows with appropriate rock size; however, it does have significant drawbacks. Material can be expensive, not locally available, and placement requires heavy equipment. Additionally, rip rap channels are prone to regular maintenance, collection of debris and garbage, erosion at boundaries, undermining, and movement.

Naturally vegetated channels are grassed greenways that offer substantially lower maintenance and cost but are limited in their ability to resist moderate-high flows and shear forces even for short durations—unless the soils and vegetation can be stabilized.

High-Performing Vegetated Solution

The GEOWEB® Soil Confinement System offers protection to channels with continuous low flows—as well as moderate-to-high flow intermittent channels. The system’s honeycomb-like network creates check-dams that protect the soil layer from hydrological erosive forces and resulting erosion that impacts unconfined soils. Cell wall perforations lock up with the vegetative root for further stabilization.

The GEOWEB single-layer vegetated channels can withstand ~9 ft/s (2.7 m/s), more than doubling the resistance of typical unsupported vegetated channels (4 ft/s (1.2 m/s). The GEOWEB channels can withstand even higher velocities—as high as 30 ft/s (9m/s)—with an overlying Turf Reinforcement Mat (TRM) when fully vegetated. This is a significant improvement, essentially doubling performance resistance to shear stress and velocities for TRMs and Erosion Control Blankets (ECBs). Rigorous flume testing at Colorado State University (CSU) with varying shear stresses and flow rates substantiated resistance of high shear stresses up to 15.9 lbf/ft2 (77.6 kgf/m2).

Vegetated GEOWEB TRM System Compared to Rip Rap

The GEOWEB TRM System offers advantages over rip rap for vegetated channels:

  • Streamlined Transition with Boundaries: Smooth integration with boundaries reduces undermining and erosion at boundary points
  • Higher Permeability: Ideal for environmentally low-impact design
  • Easier Integration in Landscape Plan: Less obtrusive and can be incorporated as a “soft” solution (i.e., grassed conveyances) with capabilities of some hard-armored systems

Sustainable Solution for Vegetated Conveyances

Sustainable vegetation in channels can be achieved with the GEOWEB TRM system. Applications that benefit include roadside ditches, stormwater channels, shoreline embankments, dams, spillways, and pond overflow systems. The GEOWEB/TRM system is a more sustainable—and environmentally friendly solution than rip rap for these common applications.

 

 

 

Presto offers full design and specification tools and a free project evaluation service to determine applicability.

Meet the Presto Geosystems Team: Get to Know JP

meet JP imageWe have a great team here at Presto Geosystems, so we thought it would be fun to share a bit more about each member through a new blog series. For our inaugural Meet the Presto Geosystems Team blog post, we are thrilled to introduce José Pablo George—Presto Geosystem’s International Business Manager (BDM).

Let’s get to know JP…

JP

How long have you been with Presto Geosystems?

Time slides and blurs in a funny way. It seems so natural for me to be doing what I do with GEO, as if I’ve always been here and can draw deeply on decades of experiences, yet at the same time I still have the positive outlook and optimism of a freshly minted graduate. The year-over-year calendar and the bits of chrome in my hair suggest a compromise: this year marks my eighth year with GEO; call me a well-seasoned new-ish guy.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

My specialty is in establishing, culturing, and maintaining business relationships, especially with our international clients. My former life and experiences pre-Presto support this well.

I was a Spanish teacher (secondary schools and technical colleges) for 17 years, and have the linguistic skills and cross-cultural skills thanks to that, as well as the “educating adults” part needed for onboarding new network agents for us. Presto initially hired me as a LATAM BDM, and I gradually took over most of the international world from there!

I´ve developed my chops with quality assurance and network training through the State of WI DOT, technical colleges, and Harley-Davidson corporate in their Quality Assurance programs and motorcycle training programs. I´ve studied Verbal Judo, am a legit Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and have negotiated labor-management bargaining contracts from both sides of the table. I don´t shy away from tough conversations, and although I´m usually the “quiet one,” my words have strength and I usually deliver them in a way to make them count.

Additional life experiences of growing up with my artist grandfather, working the family dairy farm, building houses from blueprints, solo motorcycle trips across the country, living and working abroad, and working the world´s most famous pottery kilns have all expanded my perspective, and make for interesting stories to share (another time).

What attracted you to the world of geosynthetics?

Initially it was softball and Spanish that attracted me to the world of geosynthetics. The former Geosystems Director and I played on a rec league softball team, and he kept trying to hire me for my Spanish skills. When two other Fortune 500 companies offered me positions (also due to my Spanish skills), I figured a career change merited a closer look. I decided to leave teaching for the corporate world, and am glad to have made the leap. Since starting with Presto, I have obtained my CPESC certification and have learned so much more about geosynthetics and engineered soil stabilization solutions. I´m even published and on patents now!

What does your job entail? Can you take us through a day in the life as an International Man of Myst…umm, I mean International Business Manager?

The day of an International Manager is always a mystery… yet also contains some comfortable stability. Every single day I am talking with contacts from around the globe. My mobile number is my WhatsApp, Viber, Signal, Teams, text, and Messenger number… and I use each of them to reach our agents and clients in the way that is most natural to them. Every day I get to use my Spanish language skills, and I have also learned a bit of Dutch, Setswana, Japanese, Portuguese, French, and German. Most days I am offering design and sales support, sourcing appropriate supporting resources for projects, and doing my part to keep our solutions present in the minds of engineers and clients. Most weeks I am presenting the details of one of our solution sets for a particular application, such as Infrastructure Resilience for Roads and Bridges, Channel Armoring, or Mine Slope Reclamation… sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish.  Sometimes it means presentations… of whitepapers… to government entities… to International Erosion Control or Geosynthetics groups, and the like. Once upon a time, my job meant lots of travel to meet with clients IRL, not just virtually. I look forward to the travel again someday. Really, my job entails building relationships with the right connections. Sometimes I have to seek them out, sometimes connections find us. Either way, I must develop them into something.

What do you like most about your job and/or what do you like most about this industry?

What I like most about my job is the connection to people and places around the globe. The industry allows me to offer lasting, valuable solutions to real problems. We solve the most challenging soil stabilization problems, and give the world a strong foundation to build on. There is a bit of superhero stuff in that! What´s not to like?

Can you tell us a little about what it’s like working with international business partners?

Ha! Never before have I understood time zone differences and ultra-long project gestation times so well.  I organize my day to speak with different parts of the world at different times… Europe and the UK at the start of my day, LATAM and SADC throughout the day, Asia Pacific and MENA towards the end of the day… it is a lovely variety! Not always so clean cut, but that generalizes it some. I must exercise great patience… as anything international involves extra touches and tending. With all of our international projects and partners, it comes back to building and keeping strong relationships, as well as ease of use, reliability, and high performance. Our partners know we will do what it takes, and with integrity, to help them find success.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t out helping solve the world’s soil-stabilization and erosion challenges?

I love spending time in the forest, and am fortunate to live in a region that allows me to experience the changing seasons with unhindered access to the woods. My family and I love to camp, hunt, fish, ski, bike, hike, and enjoy time together outdoors. I hate ticks and mosquitoes, and most other things that try to bite me without my permission… but generally speaking will spend as much time as possible in the woods.

What is your favorite place in the world to visit?

There are so very many places I have yet to see!!! How can I pick just one?!

Tops on my list of having been: Cartagena, Colombia; Granada, Nicaragua; La Rioja, Spain; the Frankfurt area of Germany; and the Parque Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica.

Soon-to-be favorites include Paris and the wine country of France, and the Amsterdam area of the Netherlands.

An eventual favorite trip will be a summer camping trip to the Denali area of Alaska… and to Banff, Alberta, Canada. Maybe back to the Patagonia area of Argentina, this time to fish and not just for work… and to other parts of Japan beyond the Tokyo area, including Sapporo, Osaka, and Fukuoka.  So many adventures yet to be had!

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

This is a tough one. At this juncture in time, if I had to pick just one person I´d like to meet, I would ask Keanu Reeves to accompany me for a long walk and talk at a dog park with our pets. He is also an International Man of Mystery, a “cool breeze over the mountains” that is aware of his celebrity status yet is generous and careful with his presence. I admire the way he sticks to his principles and manages to stay cool and look at the bright side, with kindness, humility, and gratitude. He models being a good human in a way the world needs right now. If Keanu turned me down, I would ask Steve Martin to share his mad banjo skills and a few jokes with my son, or Shakira to sing with my daughter.

What would you name the autobiography of your life?

The Next Adventure Awaits…

JP Book

GEOWEB® Geocell Reinforcement Improves Structural Performance of Railway Track Beds

Every year, railroads dedicate a great deal of capital and resources toward creating and maintaining high-quality track profiles. Providing a well-designed track profile is the foundation on which a successful rail line operates. With ballooning rail traffic carrying heavier loads than ever and increased occurrence of extreme weather events, a stable track profile is essential for successful operation.

GEOWEB® geocells have been used in the track bed for rail applications worldwide for more than 40 years. Through an interconnected honeycomb-like network, the HDPE-based GEOWEB Soil Stabilization System provides apparent cohesion and strength to materials that would otherwise be unstable over soft subgrades. Geocells stabilize the ballast, reduce vertical and lateral stresses, and limit ballast movement. Stabilization within the geocell system provides a longer lasting track profile that extends rail service life, while also reducing maintenance cycles and recurring maintenance costs. Research has shown that geocells reduce settlement of the ballast foundation and can reduce required cross-section thicknesses by up to 50%. This is particularly advantageous where track beds must be constructed over soft soils. The reduction in thickness leads to cost savings, along with an accompanying reduction in carbon emissions due to decreases in aggregate processing, transportation, handling, and installation. In general, geosynthetics offer tremendous potential in reducing carbon emissions from civil construction projects, in many cases by 50% or greater.

North West Electrification Programme Case Study

In the United Kingdom, Network Rail encountered extremely soft soils with low shear strengths during track modifications to the North West Electrification Programme. Due to soft subgrade conditions, conventional track design methods resulted in cross-sections as thick as 1 meter. Poor soil conditions along the track route required a soil stabilization solution to improve undertrack stiffness and provide a more cost-effective solution. The Network Rail Track Bed Investigation (TBI) team elected to evaluate an alternative solution using geocells to reduce required cross-section thicknesses. The GEOWEB Soil Stabilization System has been used under track in the United Kingdom since the 1980s; however, very limited information was collected at that time to document the resulting improvement in performance. Therefore, the TBI team used in-house numerical modelling to validate the design approach, and results indicated that a geocell-stabilized track performed as well as the conventional full-thickness cross-section. Based on this information, combined with the demonstrated long term stabilization of the above-referenced early installations, the TBI team elected to use the alternate track bed design incorporating GEOWEB Geocells. The North West Electrification Programme subsequently approved the use of geocells on a number of sections with the goal of reducing construction depth, in turn, reducing costs associated with track enhancement and long term maintenance.

After installing the GEOWEB Soil Stabilization System on the North West Electrification Programme in 2017, track quality improved significantly. The reduction in the required track bed construction (40% reduction in granular fill material), reduced the cost of track enhancement by approximately 22% (Wehbi, et al., 2018). Network Rail also realized the benefit in the ability to use granular fill or course sand as ideal infill materials. Network Rail’s experience using geocells has shown substantial construction cost savings and benefits to the structural integrity of the track bed (Wehbi, et al., 2018). Network Rail has also monitored Willesden North on the London North East and Newham Bog on the London North West in addition to the Northern West Electrification Programme, which show similar results and benefits.

Based on their success using the GEOWEB system in track bed applications, Network Rail developed a guide providing a summary of the benefits from research and testing, design recommendations, and best practices. In August 2020, Network Rail issued, “The Use of Geocells in the UK Railway Track Bed, Technical Guide.” The guide provides technical guidance based on extensive research conducted at the University of Kansas (UK) and Oregon State University (OSU), which includes existing geocell design methods, case studies from successful installations, and industry-proven installation methods utilizing specialized geocell ATRA® connection keys. The guide served as a reference for development of the Network Rail Track Bed Standard NR/L2/TRK/4239, Issue 2, issued September 2020, which contains detailed design information and guidelines for using geocells in track bed applications.

Network Rail has approved the GEOWEB® Soil Stabilization System as the solution in areas with soft soils to improve and regulate track bed stiffness, while reducing maintenance, installation time, and cost. GEOWEB® geocells achieve all requirements of the Network Rail Track Bed Standard NR/L2/TRK/4239, Issue 2 and accompanying guide “Use of Geocells” for below track installations.

Protecting Environmental Geomembrane Covers With Suspended GEOWEB Geocells

Economic pressure, the desire for green solutions, and the intensification of climate extremes have converged to create a need for better methods to effect soil stabilization. Fortunately, a proven technology exists that addresses issues associated with these conditions and provides a more stable cover solution for landfill covers, lagoons, stormwater containment basins, and other geomembrane-covered systems. Soil, aggregate, and concrete protective covers over geomembranes can be secured against known gravitational, hydrodynamic, and seismic forces using the GEOWEB® Soil Confinement System.

Soil and aggregate are commonly used as a protective cover over liners on slopes of 3H:1V or less. However, when slope gradients are greater, unconfined soil and aggregate covers are typically unstable and not used. In arid areas, cover depth may range from 75 mm (3 in) to 150 mm (6 in). Where conditions support vegetation, cover depth may range from 100 (4) to 600 mm (24 in) or greater where the final depth is a function of the characteristics of the desired vegetation. Regardless of cover depth, if an extreme rainfall event occurs that is 10%, or greater than what would typically be expected, soil mass increases, assumed friction angles decrease, and factors of safety for soil stability drop to a point where failure of the cover occurs and exposure of and/or damage to the geomembrane results.

Suspended GEOWEB Solution
The use of the GEOWEB 3D slope cover system best addresses critical details when designing or remediating geomembrane covers. With the aging infrastructure of dams, impoundments, and landfills, design engineers are looking for innovative and cost-effective solutions to build and repair new and existing facilities. The adaptability of the 3D system provides geomembrane protection while contributing to an easier and faster installation process.

Structural Support System
Because traditional stake anchoring would puncture the geomembrane, the GEOWEB system is suspended from the crest of the slope through an integrated structure of tendons and load transfer clips. This structural support system directly protects the geomembrane from accidental puncturing and natural degradation–which indirectly prevents soil contamination and erosion. The structural support also allows the GEOWEB system to work on slopes that are much greater than 3H:1V.

A variety of infills may be used, tailored to a project’s specific needs. When lining a landfill cover, crushed aggregate or vegetated infills are common because they put less pressure on the geomembrane cover and allow for growth of the landfill if necessary. For more structural projects, such as dam linings, concrete infill may be the better choice and may allow a thinner concrete cross-section for a reduced cost. This demonstrates another unique aspect of the geocell system, in that the 3D structure of the geocell can act as the formwork for a concrete pour, eliminating the need for expensive and timely construction techniques. Full design evaluations should be performed in order to analyze the loading, shear forces, and factors of safety on each project.

GEOBLOCK Grass Pavers: Fire Lane Access System

GEOBLOCK® POROUS PAVEMENT SYSTEM

Environmental regulations that control and limit stormwater runoff, reduce impervious surfaces, and increase green space have resulted in the growth of permeable pavements for traffic areas. The GEOBLOCK Porous Pavement System offers support for all vehicular loadings and protects the grass from the  damaging effects of traffic while allowing natural groundwater replenishment.

Examples of the GEOBLOCK system providing solutions for fire access lane requirements are illustrated in this case study summaries below.

Test 1: The City of Kentwood (1994)

Kentwood, Michigan

GEOBLOCK System Put to the Test

The City of Kentwood, Michigan put the GEOBLOCK system through a worst-case scenario field test to measure performance and prove the system’s capabilities.

Prior to testing, a series of less-than-ideal installation conditions were established:

  • Five inches of sand subbase was installed, developing a base support capacity of only 2.8% CBR.
  • GEOBLOCK units were laid parallel (rather than perpendicular) to the direction of traffic.
  • Edge restraints, typically used to help prevent block shifting until vegetation, were omitted—both of which help anchor the system.
  • The test area was not proof-rolled prior to load applications.

The fire marshal directed a 60,000 lb (22,400 kg) ladder/pumper to drive onto the unfilled 13 ft x 48 ft (3.9 m x 14.6 m) GEOBLOCK test pad, drop its outriggers and begin tests while geotechnical engineers monitored the systems performance.

After a series of rigorous tests, the ladder/pumper stayed on the GEOBLOCK pavement for a full hour.

The Results:

Under loading, inspection revealed only a 1/2 in (13 mm) deflection in the pavement system. After removal of the load, the GEOBLOCK pavement rebounded to its original condition in less than one hour, and the units were recovered for future use. As a result of this test and the system’s performance, the City of Kentwood approved the GEOBLOCK Grass Pavement System for use on its fire access lanes.

Case Study 1: Microsoft Campus (1996)

Redmond, Washington

The Challenge

As Microsoft Corporation’s facilities expanded through the years, so did their need for fire access lanes at their campus buildings. Grassed access lanes rather than hard-surface paving were desired to enhance the aesthetics of the new building and grounds. The search for a reliable porous pavement system led them to the GEOBLOCK Grass Pavers.

The Solutions

At their Washington State Campus, 8,600 square feet of the GEOBLOCK system was installed for permeable, grass fire access lanes around nine campus buildings.

Previously, 9,000-square-foot installations were installed around three other campus buildings. At other locations, existing fire access lanes were expanded using the GEOBLOCK system to meet new code requirements.

The Results

Implementation of the GEOBLOCK system helps preserve the campus’ natural look while providing the load support necessary to accommodate all emergency vehicles.

Test 2: AT&T Corporate Center (1994)

Basking Ridge, New Jersey

A worst-case scenario field test was also required by the Lyons Township Fire Department, New Jersey prior to approving the GEOBLOCK System for a fire access lane at the new AT&T corporate convention facility.

A test pad was installed in front of the facility adjacent to a concrete block entrance drive. Side restraints, sometimes used to anchor the pavement system, were purposely omitted. A few weeks later with only light grass established, the Lyons Township Fire Department was ready to begin the testing.

Under full pressure, firemen turned the hose directly on the GEOBLOCK platform and proceeded to saturate the test pad. With water still standing on the pad, an 80,000 lb. fire engine was backed over the saturated area, and with the outriggers lowered, was lifted off its tires. A series of tests were performed under full load and less-than-ideal conditions to determine the capabilities of the GEOBLOCK system.

The Results

After passing the tests successfully, the Fire Department approved the GEOBLOCK system at the AT&T Corporate Center for fire access use.

Case Study 2: Friends University (1999)

Wichita, Kansas

The Challenge

When officials at Friends University planned to beautify the exterior of the campus’ newly renovated Davis Hall, it included removing the large driveway leading up to the building’s main entrance. The university wanted to create a large open area, or pedestrian mall, where campus events could be held in front of the 110-year-old Davis Hall. The new design included a 76-ft diameter paving stone mosaic at the Rose Window Plaza in front of the hall to replicate the pattern of the stained glass window. The finished concept would include sidewalks, flowerbeds, and period lights.

Removing the frontage road and circle drive left the mall with diminished emergency vehicle access. The university sought an alternative to hard surface paving that would blend naturally with the green look of the campus while providing the necessary load support for maintenance and emergency vehicles.

The Solution

The GEOBLOCK Load Support Solution was chosen to best complement the new pedestrian mall and paving stone design work. About 9,000 square feet of the GEOBLOCK system was installed with an engineered base of sand and topsoil. Topsoil and a hearty bluegrass and fescue blend sod were placed in the cells of the GEOBLOCK units.

The Results

The GEOBLOCK system met the University’s need for vehicular and pedestrian load support over grassed areas while complementing the aesthetically pleasing entrance and protecting the grass from the harmful effects of the traffic.

Case Study 3: Homestead Village Complex (1997)

Bellevue, Washington

The Challenge

Faced with the common problem of providing emergency vehicle access while maintaining desirable green space, architects and contractors building the Homestead Village Complex rejected traditional paving materials in favor of a permeable system.

The Solution

The GEOBLOCK System was utilized in three areas at the apartment complex—two fire access lanes and one access road to the complex’s water detention pond. Three areas totaling 3,000 square feet were installed in less than three days, starting from site preparation through seeding.

The Results

After the system was fully vegetated, tests were performed by the local fire department, and the GEOBLOCK system was approved for use.

Case Study 4: Intervet, Inc. (2002)

Desoto, Kansas

The Challenge

The mall area in front of the pharmaceutical company’s office building was designed with a series of intersecting concrete roadways for emergency access. The owner desired green space for visual appeal in the large adjacent areas. However, a typical turf-only surface would not reliably support the load of fire trucks and emergency vehicles.

The Solution

The GEOBLOCK system was chosen for its aesthetic appeal, ease of installation, and load support capabilities. The GEOBLOCK units were placed on a prepared base such that their tops were flush with the adjacent concrete roadways. Units were set in place, cut as needed to conform to site irregularities, infilled with topsoil, and seeded.

The Results

The landscape contractor and owner were very satisfied with the final solution. When tested under full load, less than one-half inch of deflection was noted in the loaded areas.