Reitz Union G325
655 Reitz Union Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611
A Perspective on Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls
Pushing the Limits or Pulling Us Down
Dr. Robert C. Bachus, P.E., D.GE
A B S T R A C T
Many will argue that fill walls, particularly mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls, represent a boom to the U.S.
geotechnical practice and are a testament to the valuable and innovative contributions by
geotechnical practitioners. Many examples can be cited to demonstrate the profession’s
ability to push the limits in terms of wall height and creative applications. These success stories notwithstanding, there have been several reported MSE wall failures that should give
the profession pause for concern. There are indications today that the profession’s lack of attention and focus has started to reverse the impressive trends of innovative practice. These
failures should remind us that we have to remain ever mindful of the basic tenants of good geotechnical engineering practice and that we cannot afford to lose sight of important geotechnical considerations and perspective regarding the design and construction of MSE walls and slopes. This presentation strives to once again highlight important lessons regarding the design and construction of MSE walls from both big and small projects. It will also include specific recommendations to halt this disturbing trend before it has potentially severe consequences.
P R E S E N T E R B I O
Dr. Bachus is a civil engineer with more than 40 years of experience, with an expertise in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering. He started his professional career as a member of the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he taught for 11 years before joining
Geosyntec Consultants in 1990, where he is a Senior Principal. The firm specializes in
geotechnical, environmental, and water resource engineering, with >1,200 employees in its 75
offices in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. His research and project activities cover a wide range of topics, including dams and levees, landslide assessment, landfill design and performance, soil/rock properties, geosynthetics, and forensic engineering. He has worked extensively on the
properties and beneficial use of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) and geotechnical data
management and visualization. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at Georgia Tech and Chairman of the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Soil and Rock Properties.