Soils and Foundations Reference Manual – Volume 2

Document Info

Title: Soils and Foundations Reference Manual - Volume 2

Authored By: Naresh C. Samtani, PE, PhD, Edward A. Nowatzki, PE, PhD

Sponsoring Agency: National Highway Institute (NHI), U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)



The Soils and Foundations Workshop manual is intended for design and construction professionals involved with the selection, design and construction of geotechnical features for surface transportation facilities. The manual is geared towards practitioners who routinely deal with soils and foundations issues but who may have little theoretical background in soil mechanics or foundation engineering.

The manual’s content follows a project-oriented approach where the geotechnical aspects of a project are traced from preparation of the boring request through design computation of settlement, allowable footing pressure, etc., to the construction of approach embankments, etc. Recommendations are presented on how to layout borings efficiently, how to minimize approach embankment settlement, how to design the most cost-effective pier and abutment foundations, and how to transmit design information properly through plans, specifications, and/or contact with the project engineer so that the project can be constructed efficiently.

The objective of this manual is to present recommended methods for the safe, cost-effective design and construction of geotechnical features. Coordination between geotechnical specialists and bridge engineers at all phases of a project is stressed. Readers are encouraged to develop an appreciation of geotechnical activities in all project phases that influence or are influenced by their work.

About the Manual and the Training Course

The Soils and Foundations Workshop is a 4-day training course sponsored by the National Highway Institute (NHI) to provide practical knowledge in geotechnical and foundation engineering for both civil engineering generalists and geotechnical and foundation specialists. The workshop is developed around the design and construction aspects of a highway project that includes bridges, earthworks and earth retaining structures.

Recognizing the need for consistent guidance for practitioners involved in the planning, design and construction of transportation facilities that include bridges and associated structures, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed the first version of this manual in 1982. Subsequently, the manual was revised in 1993 and in 2000.

The present reference manual, which is the fourth edition, represents a significant update and supersedes earlier editions of the manual. In particular, this manual has been updated to reflect the current standard of geotechnical practice in the planning, design and construction of transportation facilities. As part of this effort, this edition provides guidance consistent with that found in the latest FHWA manuals and courses.


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