EPS: Not Just for Insulation Anymore

Moller Field

Moller Field

Moller Field, Geofoam Installation

Moller Field, Geofoam Installation

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) Geofoam has been used as a geotechnical material since the 1960s. EPS Geofoam is approximately 1% the weight of soil and less than 10% the weight of other lightweight fill alternatives. As a lightweight fill, EPS Geofoam reduces the loads imposed on adjacent and underlying soils and structures.

Moller Field, Geofoam Installation

Moller Field, Geofoam Installation

Sitka Alaska has found a solution to an ever present engineering challenge. It’s not just another tool in the tool box, it is the tool… EPS Geofoam. The Geofoam solution has made the reconstruction of Sitka’s Moller Field, the “Field of Dreams”. Dating back to the 50’s, it was considered the premier baseball field of Southeast Alaska. Over its history it became a horrible marsh due to the deep poor soils it was built on. Today it is the only all-turf field in Alaska.

The field’s reconstructionsuccess was due in large part to Geofoam. Geofoams’ use reduced the overall weight of the field and gave rigidity to the otherwise waterbed like third class field that it was. Today it is the field the rest of the state wished it had.

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Bernie

Bernard Droege, Insulfoam Territory Manager

Contact Bernard Droege, Insulfoam Territory Manager

Bernard.Droege@insulfoam.com

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Project Profile: Idaho Bridge Expansion & Replacement

Topaz Bridge Expansion & Replacement  |  McCammon, Idaho  |  View Project Profile (pdf)

Idaho’s heavily used trucking route and bridge (circa 1940) expands from 2 to 4 lanes to increase safety and capacity using InsulFoam Geofoam.

Geofoam blocks were used to construct a new 500 foot long, 30 foot tall EPS block embankment.  The new embankment supports the US-30 road expansion and its approach to the new Topaz bridge - notably the longest span in the state of Idaho.

Geofoam blocks were used to construct a new 500 foot long, 30 foot tall EPS block embankment. The new embankment supports the US-30 road expansion and its approach to the new Topaz bridge – notably the longest span in the state of Idaho.

Topaz Bridge

The pavement section is constructed on top of the 45 foot tall combined soil & Geofoam block approach fill

Idaho Transportation Department’s first EPS Geofoam project was designed by Terracon Engineers and JUB Engineers of Boise.  EPS was specified as a soil replacing embankment fill material due to poor foundation soils and 2 steel fish culverts that could not bear the weight of traditional soil fill.  A new three-span, bridge replaced the existing bridge (from the 1940’s) crossing rail road tracks and expanding the highway to 4 instead of 2 lanes.  23,000 cubic yards of large block EPS was installed by Scarsella Brother Inc. and supplied by Insulfoam.

THE PROBLEM

The expansion of the US-30 and bridge replacement required a new fill embankment to support the new roadway and bridge approach on a very steep side slope.

The new (600 ft long) expanded bridge clears The Pontneuf River as well as the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, and required a new higher grade of both the bridge structure and the existing roadway to support the new wide and long center spans.

EPS

EPS block fill is partially installed, during bridge construction.

As a result the new bridge approach embankment would be 45-50 feet high, too costly to be retained by conventional concrete cantilever or MSE wall, and raised concerns about global stability.

Further challenges to the project design were the site conditions.  Located adjacent to the Portneuf River, shallow bedrock and loose or soft sediments underlie the new approach embankment.  This both challenged the new roadway embankment’s strength and stability, and limited deep foundation designs required with concrete walls.

THE EPS GEOFOAM FILL SOLUTION

To reach the new bridge’s approach embankment height of 45 feet, engineers chose a combined fill solution.  The lowest 15 feet was a small earthen embankment, while InsulFoam GF constituted the upper 30 feet.  4 1/2 feet of granular fill retained in wire gab ions and an asphalt pavement section were installed directly on top of the EPS blocks to complete the full height of the new embankment.

Custom fabricated "tongs" grip the large EPS blocks without damaging them.

Custom fabricated “tongs” grip the large EPS blocks without damaging them.

The exposed vertical face of the EPS is eventually covered with a protective shotcrete facing.

The exposed vertical face of the EPS is eventually covered with a protective shotcrete facing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The soft sediments underlying the site required the lower earthen embankment to settle (80 days), but the InsulFoam GF block fill required no additional surcharge time or secondary compaction by the contractor.  Traffic moved on the existing roadway throughout the installation of the upper embankment, which was a key factor for the expansion to finish when weather conditions permitted.

Net

Near “Net-Zero” surcharge loads.  The void in between the blocks and the native slope was filled with sand.

The ultra lightweight nature of EPS allowed the total design weight of the tall embankment to be week under the bearing capacity of the poor foundation soils which aided ITD in successfully completing their first EPS Geofoam project.

Geofoam Lightweight Geo-synthetic Fill:

  • Soft Soil Remediation
  • Lateral Load Reduction
  • Slope Stabilization
  • Buried Utility Protection
  • Structural Void Fill
  • Predictable Elastic Modulus
  • Exceptional Strength & Stability
  • Exceeds 75 year Design Life
  • Weather, Insect & Mold Resistant
  • 100% Recyclable

 

MORE GEOFOAM SOLUTIONS IN HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION

View Project Profile (pdf)

Geofoam Helps Mold the Construction of Chicago’s New Downtown Maggie Daley Park

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Maggie Daley Job Site Cam, Dec 7th

Maggie Daley Job Site Cam, Dec 7th

With construction well underway the former Daley Bicentennial Plaza (next to Millennium Park) is on its way to being one of the “greenest” parks in America. The park is atop the large East Monroe Street Parking Garage, which has been restructured extensively including a new membrade above the garage which will also serve as the foundation that the park will sit on top of.

The new park, offers sweeping views of Lake Michigan, and combined with Millenium park “Peanut Park” will offer 45-50 acres of green roof over a downtown city parking garage.
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So what does Insulfoam’s EPS Geofoam have to do with it? With about 60% of earthworks completes, crews have removed 82,000 cubic yards of existing fill (that existed beneath the soil for decades). Some of this is in fact lightweight fill material like Geofoam, and is still in excellent condition and is able to be recycled for reuse to create “hills” in the park. Geofoam will also support the base below new paths for bikers and walkers to get through to the lake paths.
Maggie Daley Park Rendering

Maggie Daley Park Rendering

The site itself now has the required EPS Geofoam blocks stock piled and ready for installation. In the days to come the installation of the acres of Geofoam will be seen on the bottom right hand side of THIS JOBSITE CAMERA.

Bob O’Neill, president of Grant Park Conservancy, in an article from the Chicago Sun Times called the park “more natural and much more informal” than Daley Bicentennial Park. And very kid-friendly, featuring a three-acre play garden, ice rink, climbing walls, a skating rink in the shape of a ribbon .“You’ll be able to walk up hills and see the lake,” O’Neill said. “When this is done . . . it’s going to be a much more green, sort of organic flow. Whereas Millennium Park is more structural and formal, this is more nature-oriented.”