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Is your project stuck in the mud?

Access to the job site, in less-than-ideal conditions, can wreak havoc on construction schedules and create job site safety issues. So, what are your options if you need access to the site without any paved surface leading in and out of the project?

Soil Stabilization!

Soil Stabilization is a method of improving soil properties by adding and mixing soil modifiers to it. It is generally required when the soil, under the foundation for construction, is not suitable to carry the structural load. Stabilization can increase the shear strength of a soil and/or control the shrink-swell properties of a soil, thus improving the load bearing capacity of a sub-grade to support pavements and foundations.

Stabilization may allow you to use less material when surfacing the project…think road, parking lot, or other areas needing surfacing.

What are the options?

  • Mechanical Stabilization
  • Lime Stabilization
  • Cement Stabilization
  • Fly Ash Stabilization
  • Geotextile and Fabric Stabilization

1. Mechanical Stabilization

Mechanical Stabilization – is a method of improving the property of the soil by changing its gradation. This can be done by bringing in new soil or additional rock. Blending, rolling, and compacting is needed to achieve the desired stability.

The benefits of Mechanical Stabilization are its low cost, readily available materials, and time to construct. Weather, rain, snow, frost, can still leave the soil vulnerable. This is not a permanent solution to achieve optimal site access. In addition, by adding material you are changing the grade of the site, which results in import & export of materials. That needs to be taken into consideration when using this type of stabilization method.

2. Lime Stabilization

Lime Stabilization – This is one of the most cost-effective stabilization options. Typically, 5% to 10% lime is spread and tilled into the soil to “firm” up the ground. The lime reacts with the water in the soil to produce cementitious compounds making the soil firm and water resistant. Lime stabilization is an excellent choice when the soils contain a large amount of clay.

Benefits: Fast, low-cost, permanent, increased load capacity and structural benefits, drying agent for wet soil, no grade changes, will continue to stay firm, because of the chemical reaction with the materials. By incorporating lime into the soil, you are increasing the structural coefficients, where you may not need as much material for surfacing.

3. Cement Stabilization

Cement Stabilization – Cement Stabilization is used when you desire the soil particles to be bonded together, by the cement. This process is very similar to Lime Stabilization. Cement is spread and tilled into the existing soils. As the cement hardens, it bonds the material to produce a durable driving surface or material staging area.

Benefits: Fast, affordable, increased bearing capacity of the soils, adds to drying, easy to apply and construct. This produces a durable, firm, water resistant, and dry surface. May require less material to surface. Doesn’t increase the grades.

4. Fly Ash Stabilization

Fly Ash Stabilization – Fly ash is a by-product or waste product from coal-based power generation plants. Fly ash has less cementitious properties compared to cement and lime, so it tends not to perform as well. In addition, you must use much more of this material, which adds to the overall cost and time to construct.

Things to consider: Access to Fly Ash is not always available. Because you need much more of it than you would lime or cement, there is additional trucking, spreading and tilling costs. Fly Ash tends to “swell” as time passes. It’s not as consistent as lime or cement.

5. Geo-textile & Fabrics

Geo-textile & Fabrics – Geotextiles are made from porous synthetic materials such as polyethylene, polyester, and nylons. These come in a variety of options: woven, non-woven and grid. These high strength materials can improve the quality and durability of the soil and may reduce the cost of construction.

Things to Consider: Geo-textiles & fabrics are expensive but effective, tend to be best suited for smaller isolated areas, and typically require some form of mechanical stabilization above or below the grid, if not both. Materials tend to be readily available as well, making this quick and easy to complete.

The benefits of stabilization can include:

  • Higher resistance (R) values
  • Reduction in plasticity
  • Lower permability
  • Reduction of pavement thickness
  • Elimination of excavation, material hauling, handling, and base compaction
  • Provides “all-weather” access onto and within project sites
  • Geotextile and Fabric Stabilization

If you are faced with a muddy, messy job site, soil stabilization might be the solution to get your project out of the mud and on solid ground.

If you are interested in learning more give us a call at (314) 254-9766 and ask for Jake Phelps! 

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