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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Highway/Levee Slopes Subject of Engineering Investigations

October 8, 2009

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has issued a two-year, $671,395 grant to civil engineering researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington to investigate the stability of slopes along highways and levees along the Trinity River in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. The researchers will investigate slope failure mechanisms and recommend methods to repair and prevent slope failures.

There are six major tasks in the study; some of the more noticeable are related to the planned Trinity River Corridor project in Dallas and the Trinity River Vision project in Fort Worth. In Dallas, new bridges will cross the river and the levees, as will a roadway adjacent to the north levee. In Fort Worth, a new channel bordered by new levees and crossed by three new bridges is planned for the river north of downtown, creating an island supporters describe as being ripe for urban redevelopment.

Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Sahadat Hossain will lead a team that will first conduct site investigations of existing slopes in areas where frequent failures have been observed in the past. “We will be using a method called Resistivity Imaging (RI) that will allow us to view the composition of earth below the surface, usually of depths varying from 50 to 150 feet,” said Dr. Hossain.

Geologists and geotechnical engineers typically investigate several parameters during site investigations and failure analyses. Using conventional soil boring methods, however, they can only obtain information at specific points, not a general “view” of site conditions. RI methods have the potential to provide an overall “image” of the subsurface. This provides a continuous view of the site leading to reliable and cost-effective design, improved geo-hazards mitigation strategies and a reduction of risks and liabilities during construction.

Dr. Hossain will be joined on the project by Civil Engineering Professors Laureano Hoyos and Anand Puppala. TxDOT has asked the team to also study some of the embankment slopes adjacent to bridges and alongside roadways. These are usually constructed using a method called Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE), which incorporates reinforcing materials to help stabilize the soil.

The team will also investigate MSE wall failures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and develop recommendations regarding these failures.

The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Engineering, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, has emerged as one of the most comprehensive engineering programs in North Texas and the nation. The college’s eight baccalaureate, 12 master’s and nine doctoral degree programs serve approximately 3,700 students, making it the fourth largest engineering college in Texas. With more than 21,000 alumni, the college provides the local, regional and national workforce with motivated and highly skilled graduates. Research expenditures in the past year grew to more than $40 million, and the University will invest $160 million to add 295,000 square feet of facilities in the next three years. With a commitment to creating viable solutions to today’s most pressing problems, the College of Engineering is helping to propel UT Arlington toward its goal of becoming a national research university.

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