Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations, 2012, Houston, TX, USA, (DFI)
The Road To Innovation in Geotechnical Construction
Peter J. Nicholson
During my more than 40 years in the practice of underground construction and engineering, the industry has seen progress from the dig down to rock or hardpan or alternatively drive concrete or steel into the ground and count the blows; then you can be sure of you have a solid foundation; to the modern day, I’m willing to try anything to save money. Of course these are both exaggerations, but not gross ones. After getting bored being supervision on jobs counting blows, I struck out into the new field of “tie-backs” as they were called in the United States, or “ground anchors” as they were then termed in the United Kingdom. After installing some of the first permanent ground anchors for the Corps of Engineers on Lake Michigan as well as the highest loaded rock anchors of the time at two dams on the Ohio River, we were at the top of our game in the 1970’s. Subsequently in the 1980’s when my view of the future of ground anchors saw their installation becoming a commodity item, we branched out into “Pin Piles” now known as Micro Piles, high capacity, steel tube encased, small diameter (5-12” or so), high capacity (100-500 tons) piling. Next came soil nailing, both temporary and permanent retaining walls, as at Cumberland Gap Kentucky. My next morph was into “Cement Deep Soil Mixing” earlier on, known simply as “soil mixing”. For this education I traveled to Japan several times and established a long-term, Joint Venture, relationship with one of the better known Japanese specialty ground modification companies. In Boston at the “Big Dig” we established the then record size soil mixing project, 500,000 or so cubic meters of CDSM concluding in the year 2000. Since then I’ve been involved as a consultant mainly for dams and levees.
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