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From false abutment to true abutment using MSEW with polymeric reinforcement: the Lanseria International Airport

The use of geosynthetics in soil reinforcement is well established, however for critical struc-tures such as bridge abutment there is the tendency of relying on reinforced concrete for the support of the bridge deck, besides soil reinforcement has proven to be able to withstand much stringent design re-quirements. In 2016 the Lanseria International Airport in South Africa required an underpass for passen-gers which at first was designed as with a RCC wall sustaining the wall and an MSEW structure support-ing the backfill for the ramp. During the construction phase, it emerged the difficulty to build both structures at the same time as the construction area was very limited, allowing only the earthworks con-tractor. The use of a true bridge abutment, where the girder is supported directly by the reinforced soil mass enabled to stagger the programme of work and reduce the construction time as no RCC wall was re-quired anymore. The paper aims to showcase such project from the initial phase through the engineering process who’s brought to the choice of a true bridge abutment, to then explain the principles of design for both the wall and the bridge, concluding with construction of the system.