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This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-026
Date: January 2011

Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge System Interim Implementation Guide

PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®

Companion Document: Synthesis Report (PDF)

Location Correction URL

Page 9, section 2.1

Added “RFglobal: Global reduction factor for the geosynthetic to account for long-term strength losses due to installation damage, creep, and durability [dimensionless]


Page 17, last paragraph

Change “gradations are shown in sections and” to “gradations are shown in sections and”


Page 34, step 6

Change “see section” to “see section”


Page 42, third paragraph

Add “Direct sliding should also be checked at the interface between the RSF and the foundation soils.” at end of paragraph.


Page 44, section 4.3.7

Change “refer to appendix B” to “refer to appendix C”


Page 49, section

Change “(2) it must be less than the strength at 2 percent reinforcement strain (Reinforcement strength at 2 percent reinforcement strain [F/L]).” to “(2) it must be less than the strength at 2 percent reinforcement strain (Reinforcement strength at 2 percent reinforcement strain [F/L]) in the direction perpendicular to the abutment wall face.”


Page 72, first paragraph

Delete two instances of “(see section 4.5.3)”


Page 73, first paragraph

Change “Section 6.5 discusses drainage details” to “Section 7.11 discusses drainage details.”


Page 88, last paragraph

Change “Overlapping between sheets is required.” to “Overlapping between sheets is not required.”


Page 90, fourth paragraph

Add “In the bearing reinforcement zone, hand-operated compaction equipment should be used over the 4-inch lifts to prevent excessive installation damage of the reinforcement.” after second sentence.


Page 137, first paragraph

Change “Refer to section 4.4 for discussion … and to section 4.5 for the ASD calculation” to ““Refer to section 4.3 for discussion … and to section 4.4 for the ASD calculation”


Page 141, first paragraph

Change “A resistance factor for reinforcement strength (Φreinf) of 0.4 should be applied to the ultimate strength (Tf) to determine the factored reinforcement strength (Tf,f).” to  “In addition to a global reduction factor of 2.25 accounting for long-term strength losses (RFglobal) of the geosynthetic, a resistance factor for reinforcement strength (Φreinf) of 0.9 should be applied to the ultimate strenth (Tf) to determine the factored reinforcement strength (Tf,f).”


Page 141, equation 93


The ratio of T subscript f,f and T subscript req,f equals the product phi subscript reinf and T subscript f divided by T subscript req,f and equals the product of 0.4 and T subscript f divided by T subscript req, f and is greater than or equal to 1.


Page 141, section C.3

Change “design example in the ASD format contained in section 4.5.” to “sections of the design example in the ASD format contained in section 4.4.”


Page 145, section C.3.7.3

Change “Applying a resistance factor ( Φreinf ) of 0.4, the factored reinforcement strength (Tf,f) is 1,920 lb/ft.” to “Applying the resistance and global reduction factors of 0.9 and 2.25, respectively, the factored reinforcement strength (Tf,f) is 1,920 lb/ft.”


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Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) technology consists of closely spaced layers of geosynthetic reinforcement and compacted granular fill material. GRS has been used for a variety of earthwork applications since the U.S. Forest Service first used it to build walls for roads in steep mountain terrain in the 1970s. Since then, the technology has evolved into the GRS Integrated Bridge System (IBS), a fast, cost–effective method of bridge support that blends the roadway into the superstructure . GRS–IBS includes a reinforced soil foundation, a GRS abutment, and a GRS integrated approach. The application of IBS has several advantages. The system is easy to design and economically construct. It can be built in variable weather conditions with readily available labor, materials, and equipment and can easily be modified in the field. This method has significant value when employed for small, single–span structures meeting the criteria described in this manual.

As a result of the demonstrated performance of GRS–IBS, the technology was selected for the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Every Day Counts initiative, aimed at accelerating implementation of proven, market–ready technologies. This manual is the first in a two–part series and outlines the design and construction of GRS–IBS. The second document is a synthesis report to substantiate the design method. Both documents are a collaboration between many disciplines within FHWA: geotechnical, structural, hydraulic, maintenance, and pavement engineering.

Jorge Pagán–Ortiz
Director, Office of Infrastructure
Research and Development


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge System, Interim Implementation Guide

5. Report Date

January 2011

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

Michael Adams, Jennifer Nicks, Tom Stabile, Jonathan Wu, Warren Schlatter, and Joseph Hartmann

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22181

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Federal Highway Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered


14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

The FHWA Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR) was Mike Adams, HRDS–40.

16. Abstract

This manual outlines the state–of–the–art and recommended practice for designing and constructing Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) technology for the application of the Integrated Bridge System (IBS). The procedures presented in this manual are based on 40 years of State and Federal research focused on GRS technology as applied to abutments and walls.

This manual was developed to serve as the first in a two–part series aimed at providing engineers with the necessary background knowledge of GRS technology and its fundamental characteristics as an alternative to other construction methods. The manual presents step–by–step guidance on the design of GRS–IBS. Analytical and empirical design methodologies in both the Allowable Stress Design (ASD) and Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) formats are provided. Material specifications for standard GRS–IBS are also provided. Detailed construction guidance is presented along with methods for the inspection, performance monitoring, maintenance, and repair of GRS–IBS. Quality assurance and quality control procedures are also covered in this manual.

The second part of this series (FHWA–HRT–11–027) is a synthesis report that covers the background of GRS–IBS and provides other supporting information to substantiate the design method.

17. Key Words

Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS), Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Design, Construction, Performance test, Geosynthetic, material specifications, Quality assurance, Quality control

18. Distribution Statement


19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price
Form DOT F 1700.7 Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI Modern Metric Conversion Factors






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