Design Considerations for Embankment Protection During Road Overtopping Events

Principal Investigator(s):

Jeff Marr, Associate Director, SAFHL - Hydraulic Lab


  • Craig Taylor, Former Associate Engineer, SAFHL - Hydraulic Lab

Project summary:

Roadway overtopping is a major safety concern for Minnesota transportation managers because of the potential for rapid soil erosion and mass wasting resulting in partial or complete failure of the roadway embankment. This multi-year research study focused on various aspects of the roadway embankment overtopping. A robust literature survey was performed to identify research, reports, and other published knowledge that would inform the project. A field-based research campaign was developed with the goal of collecting data on the hydraulics associated with full-scale overtopping events. Finally, a series of laboratory experiments were conducted at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota to study the hydraulic and erosional processes associated with embankment overtopping and in particular to study three slope protection techniques under overtopping flow. The largest component of the research project was the laboratory hydraulic testing, which focused on bare soil (base case) and three slope protection technologies. A full-scale laboratory facility was constructed to carry out the testing. Three erosion protection techniques were examined including 1) armored sod, 2) a turf reinforcement mat, and 3) a flexible concrete geogrid mat. Overtopping depths of up to 1-ft were used to determine the failure point of the protection technique and soil on both the 4h:1V and 6V:1H slopes.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2013034
  • Start date: 09/2012
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Infrastructure
  • Topics: Erosion control