The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 55-03 [Active (Synthesis)]

Asset Management Practices for Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $55,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/27/2023 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Arefeh A. Nasri
Research Agency: Landslide Technology Inc.
Principal Investigator: Aine Mines
Fiscal Year: 2024

Final Scope

Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) walls are widely used in transportation projects due to their cost-saving, time-efficient, and resilient nature. However, most of the walls constructed so far are too young to meet the design life. Additionally, design guidelines, construction materials, and protocols have significantly evolved since the technology was first adopted. Therefore, the early MSE walls constructed using the original design guidelines and construction protocols may be inadequate according to the current state of practice. As a result, some of these early structures have failed unexpectedly due to their deterioration over time. Deterioration processes in MSE walls may involve different types of mechanisms with different onsets and progress at different rates. Collectively, these mechanisms contribute variably to the overall deterioration rate of a wall during the service life of the wall. Currently, there is no standard practice for managing MSE wall assets for state departments of transportation (DOTs).

The objective of this synthesis is document state DOT asset management practices for MSE walls in their inventories.  

Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to):

·       Approaches of inventorying and categorization of MSE walls based on their design and construction specifications (with the consideration of specification disparities in the older generations);

·       Definition of malfunction/service failure;   

·       Definition of types of distress;

·       Tools, technologies, and techniques used to monitor and evaluate MSE wall performance for existing, new, and under-construction structures;

·       Performance indicators used in MSE wall inspections;

·       Methods of collecting and processing field inspection data;

·       Approaches of rating MSE walls (risk, consequence, condition, etc.);

·       Proactive mitigation methods for:

o   Repairing distressed walls; and

o   MSE walls not meeting current design or construction standards.

·       Methods of factoring long-term deterioration of MSE walls in the design and construction of existing and new MSE wall assets;

·       Methods of keeping records of as built conditions (design, shop drawings, and contract plans); and

·       Administrative practices for MSE asset management.  

Information will be gathered through a literature review, a survey of state DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected DOTs for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.  

Information Sources (Partial):

·       AASHTO (2011). “Transportation Asset Management guide: a focus on implementation”, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington,D.C.

·       Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (2013). “Retaining Wall Inventory Procedures Manual”, Draft.

·       Alzamora, D. E. and Anderson, S. A. (2009). “Review of Mechanically Stabilized Earth Wall Performance Issues”, In 88th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, CD-ROM, 16 pp.

·       Bay, J. A., Anderson, L. R., Gerber, T. M. and Maw, R. B. (2010). “An Inspection, Assessment, and Database of UDOT MSE Walls”, No. UT-09-21, Utah Department of Transportation.

·       Brutus, O. and Tauber, G. (2009). “Guide to Asset Management of Earth Retaining Structures”, prepared as part of NCHRP Project 20-07, Task 259, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, 120 pp.

·       City of Cincinnati (2015). “Retaining Wall Condition Report”, Department of Transportation and Engineering, 45 pp.

·       CTC and Associates (2013). “Asset Management for Retaining Walls”, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Report #TRS1305, 42 pp.

·       DeMarco, M., Keough, D. and Lewis, S. (2010). “Retaining Wall Inventory and Assessment Program (WIP) National Park Service Procedures Manual”, No. FHWA-CFL/TD-10-003, Federal Highway Administration, 188 pp.

·       Govindasamy, A.V., Marr, W.A., DiMaggio, J.A., and Morsy, A.M. (2019), Risk-Based Protocol for Asset Management of Metallically Reinforced Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Walls. Report FHWA-HIF-18-065, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Office of Infrastructure, 109p

·       Jensen, W. (2009). “Inspector’s Manual for Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls”, No. SPR-P1(09) P320, Nebraska Department of Roads, 36 pp.

·       Kim, Y. R., Hummer, J. E., Gabr, M., Johnston, D., Underwood, B. S., Findley, D. J. and Cunningham, C. M. (2009). “Asset Management Inventory and Data Collection”, No. FHWA/NC/2008-15, North Carolina Department of Transportation, 286 pp.

·       Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (2010). “Bridge Safety Inspection Manual”, 2nd Edition, 482 pp.

·       Rasdorf, W., Gabr, M. A., Butler, C. J., Findley, D. J. and Bert, S. A. (2015). “Retaining Wall Inventory and Assessment System”, No. FHWA/NC/2014-10, North Carolina Department of Transportation, 273 pp.

·       Ryan, T. W., Hartle, R. A., Mann, J. E. and Danovich, L. J. (2012). “Bridge Inspector’s Reference Manual”, No. FHWA NHI 12-049, Federal Highway Administration, 1029 pp.

·       US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.  Earth Retaining Structures and Asset Management, FHWA-IF-08-014.

·       Vessely, M. (2013). “Geotechnical Asset Management-Implementation Concepts and Strategies”, No. FHWA-CFL/TD-13-003, Federal Highway Administration, 74 pp.

·       Vessely, M., W. Robert, S. Richrath, V. R. Schaefer, O. Smadi, E. Loehr, A. Boeckmann, Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 2: Implementation Manual, NCHRP Research Report 903, National Academies, Washington DC (2019).

·       Walters, B. X., Collins, M. P., Funk, N. E., Vessely, M. J., Widman, B. L., Koonce, J. W., Michael J.Garlich, M. J. and Paul D. Thompson, P. D. (2016). “Colorado Retaining and Noise WallsInspection and Asset Management Manual”, Colorado, Department of Transportation, 300 pp.

·       Wolf, R. E., Bouali, E-H, Oommen, T., Dobson, R., Vitton, S., Brooks, C. and Lautala, P. (2016). “Sustainable Geotechnical Asset Management along the Transportation Infrastructure Environment Using Remote Sensing”, Final Report to USDOT, No. RITARS-14-H-MTU, Michigan Technological University.

·       Zekkos, A., Lynch, J., Zekkos, D., Grizi, A., Admassu, K., Benhamida, B., Spino, R.J., and Mikolajczyk, M. (2020). Asset Management for Retaining Walls. Report No. SPR1676, Michigan Department of Transportation.

TRB Staff
Arefeh Nasri
Phone: 202-334-2763
Email: anasri@nas.edu
Meeting Dates 
First Panel: September 20, 2023, Washington, D.C.
Teleconference with Consultant: October 23, 2023, 2:00-3:00 pm EST
Second Panel: June 6, 2024, Washington, D.C.

Panel Members
Evan Garich,
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Kathryn Griswell, California Department of Transportation
Mohab Hussein, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Larry Jones, Florida Department of Transportation
Worku Mergia, Texas Department of Transportation
Heather Shoup, Illinois Department of Transportation
Aamir Turk, Indiana Department of Transportation
Nancy Whiting, Transportation Research Board

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