Piles Over Problems Sites

by Issa S. Oweis, (M.ASCE), Vice Pres.; Converse Consultants East, Parsippany, NJ,
Edward M. Zamiskie, Jr., Sr. Engr.; Converse Consultants East, Parsippany, NJ,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 4, Pg. 62-64

Document Type: Feature article


It's increasingly difficult to find suitable space for construction in urban areas. Pile foundations can fill the void by making questionable and heavily regulated sites, such as landfills and wetlands, prime candidates for construction. This development, however, means the geotechnical engineers must focus on more than the pile foundation's ability to support structural loads or on the effect of installation vibrations on nearby structure. Now, when piles are driven, the possible ecological—and regulatory—impacts become the major consideration. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires special permitting, under section 404 of the Clean Water Act, before work even begins. Section 404 prohibits the discharge of unpermitted dredged or fill material into U.S. waters, which includes tidal and nontidal waters as well as the wetlands associated with them. Until recently designers used piles as a substitute for fill material to avoid the permitting process. In response, the Corps determined that piles are a fill when they have the physical effect or functional use of a fill.

Subject Headings: Fills | Water discharge | Dredged materials | Piles | Construction sites | Wetlands (fresh water) | Materials processing | Urban areas

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