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Exhumation of geotextiles from a geosynthetic reinforced bridge abutment after 17 years of service

The technology of geosynthetic reinforced bridge abutments (GSRBA) using a masonry block facing with geosynthetic reinforcement is currently one of the fastest growing segments of the geo-synthetic industry. Due to their excellent aesthetics, low costs, ease of constructability, and regularly de-pendable performance, these structures are common throughout the world. However, some of these sys-tems are being challenged for their durability. The focus of this paper is to present field data from such a GSRBA, located at the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia. The GSRBA is 17 years old, having been constructed in 1999. Despite the GSRBA being built solely for use as a test section, it is a full size abutment of 10 meters height. After disassembling the GSRBA and exhuming samples from six layers of the same type of geotextile, they were subsequently tested for physical, mechanical, hydraulic and endurance properties. The properties were then compared to those of the original material, which had been archived by the FHWA. Results will hopefully shed light on actual reduction factor for installation damage and degradation at this particu-lar site.