Geotextile reinforcement of low-bearing capacity soils: comparison of two design methods applicable to thawing soils
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Geotextile reinforcement of low-bearing capacity soils: comparison of two design methods applicable to thawing soils

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      Thawing fine-grained soils are often saturated and have extremely low bearing capacity. Geosynthetics are used to reinforce unsurfaced roads on weak, saturated soils and therefore are good candidates for use in stabilization of thawing soils. To stabilize the soil, a geotextile is placed on it, then the geotextile is covered with aggregate. Design involves selection of aggregate thickness and geotextile. There are two commonly used design techniques for geotextile reinforcement of low-volume roads, and the Army uses one of them. The theory and use of the two design methods for static loading (i.e., up to 100 vehicle passes) are presented and compared in this report. The design method not used by the Army offers the potential to reduce aggregate thickness over the geotextile because it accounts for the fact that the geotextile helps support the traffic load (when in tension) and confines the soil between the wheels and the subgrade. However, this alternative method appears to be unconservative with respect to stresses estimated at the subgrade surface. Thus, the current Army design technique should be used until more research is conducted. In the meantime, straight-forward design curves for Army 10- and 20-ton trucks as well as vehicle loading and tire pressure information for a number of other vehicles are included in this report to help make the current design method easy to use. Future work should consider adopting a hybrid design method that provides realistic estimates of stresses at the subgrade and accounts for the tensile properties of geotextiles. In addition, aggregates other than the high-quality crushed rock that is inherently assumed by each design method should be accounted for in new design development.
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