Montana Department of Transportation

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Research

Large-Scale Laboratory Testing of Geosynthetics in Roadway Applications

Public agencies responsible for the construction and maintenance of our roadway network are increasingly asked to do more with shrinking budgets. For these agencies, innovation lies in finding technologically sound solutions that reduce construction and maintenance costs while increasing reliability and road ride safety. Within the field of roadway construction, maintenance and rehabilitation, geosynthetics used as reinforcement and stabilization have been recognized as a technological tool that accomplishes these goals. Geosynthetics are polymer planer materials manufactured in the form of a grid or as a textile. Geosynthetics are typically placed between the foundation soils of the roadway and the overlying higher quality aggregate materials. Geosynthetics are most beneficial in situations where the engineering properties of the foundation soils are moisture sensitive and seasonally weak. Geosynthetics help stabilize these weak materials and provide reinforcement to the upper higher quality aggregates. Departments of transportation strive to utilize these products in the most efficient way possible to enhance performance and ensure longevity to the roadway. To do so, it is necessary to have experimental data showing the performance of these materials in conditions similar to those expected in the field. This can best be accomplished by controlled laboratory testing of these materials in as realistic environment as possible. A review of literature, summarized in Section III, shows that typical construction projects currently under consideration by Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) have design conditions that differ from those contained in previous studies. MDT requires experimental evidence of performance for projects under consideration in order to proceed with future designs. These conditions are summarized in Section IV. The objective of the proposed project is to conduct full-scale, indoor laboratory tests of geosynthetics in roadway applications to define their performance for design conditions pertinent to MDT roadways.

Please contact Sue Sillick ( or 406-444-7693) for more information.