Checklist and Guidelines for Review of Geotechnical
Reports and Preliminary Plans and Specifications
PDF Version (200 kb)
A set of review checklists and technical guidelines has been developed to aid engineers in their review of projects containing major and unusual geotechnical features. These features may involve any earthwork or foundation related activities such as construction of cuts, fills, or retaining structures, which due to their size, scope, complexity or cost, deserve special attention. A more specific definition of both unusual and major features is presented in Table 1. Table 1 also provides a description of a voluntary program by which FHWA generalists engineers determine what type and size projects may warrant a review by a FHWA geotechnical specialist. The review checklists and technical guidelines are provided to assist generalist highway engineers in:
Reviewing both geotechnical reports and plan, specification, and estimate (PS&E)* packages;
Recognizing cost-saving opportunities
Identifying deficiencies or potential claim problems due to inadequate geotechnical investigation, analysis or design;
Recognizing when to request additional technical assistance from a geotechnical specialist.
At first glance, the enclosed review checklists will seem to be inordinately lengthy, however, this should not cause great concern. First, approximately 50 percent of the review checklists deal with structural foundation topics, normally the primary responsibility of a bridge engineer; the remaining 50 percent deal with roadway design topics. Second, the general portion of the PS&E checklist is only one page in length. The remaining portions of the PS&E checklist apply to specific geotechnical features - such as pile foundations, embankments, landslide corrections, etc., and would only be completed when those specific features exist on the project. Third, the largest portion of the checklists deals with the review of geotechnical reports, with a separate checklist for each of eight geotechnical features. The checklist for each geotechnical feature is only one to two pages in length. Therefore, on most projects, reviewers will find that only a small portion of the total enclosed checklist needs to be completed.
* For purposes of this document, PS&E refers to a plan and specification review at any time during a project's development. Hence, the review may be at a preliminary or partial stage of plan development.
The following review checklists and technical guidelines have been developed to aid engineers with review of geotechnical reports, plans and special provisions on projects containing major and unusual geotechnical features. These may involve any earthwork or foundation related activities such as construction of cuts, fills, or retaining structures, which due to their size, scope, complexity or cost, deserve special attention. A more specific definition of both major and unusual features is presented in Table 1. The checklists and review guidelines are intended to serve four primary purposes.
First, for projects that are submitted to a FHWA geotechnical specialist, the checklists and technical guidelines are provided to aid FHWA generalist engineers in making a quick review of the geotechnical report and accompanying support data provided by the State, to insure that the information provided by the State is complete enough to allow adequate technical review by the FHWA geotechnical specialist.
Second, for projects which will not be submitted to a FHWA geotechnical specialist for formal review (which will be the majority of projects handled by the FHWA division office) the checklists and technical guidelines are provided to assist generalist engineers in (1) reviewing geotechnical reports and preliminary plan and specification packages; (2) recognizing cost-saving opportunities; (3) spotting deficiencies or potential claim problems due to inadequate geotechnical investigations, analysis, or design; (4) recognizing when to request technical assistance for a FHWA geotechnical specialist.
Third, it should be noted that the checklists and technical guidelines also include coverage of structure foundations. These review checklists and technical guidelines have been developed to fill an existing need in this area.
Fourth, this document sets forth minimum geotechnical standards or criteria to show transportation agencies and consultants the basic geotechnical information which FHWA recommends be provided in geotechnical reports and PS&E packages.