Routes for exceptional loads: a new soil mechanics perspective

Christopher Krechowiecki-Shaw, Alexander Royal, Ian Jefferson, Gurmel Ghataora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
462 Downloads (Pure)


Off-site prefabrication can bring cost, quality and programme benefits to construction projects but often requires transportation of large, indivisible loads (in the order of 1,000-10,000 tonnes) on temporary routes which can cross soft soils. Through simple numerical modelling, this paper demonstrates the fundamental behaviour of the ground supporting these large loads can differ significantly from that expected in conventional road design practice; interaction between many closely-spaced wheels means the vehicle’s influence depth and failure mechanism are significantly deeper. Surface soils are less influential.
Deeper soil is found to be more prone to local yield, developing large localised strains at low proportions (10-30%) of ultimate capacity. Instead of designing temporary roads to avoid yield and degradation under cyclic load, significant savings may be possible if limited degradation is permitted, with recovery through consolidation between loads. Investigation and monitoring of deep subsoils during operations is recommended for real-time evaluation of geotechnical risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1600109
Pages (from-to)42-58
JournalInstitution of Civil Engineers. Proceedings. Transport
Issue number1
Early online date9 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2018


  • Foundations
  • pavement design
  • Roads
  • Soil mechanics


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