Saving the Bluffs: Engineering at the Edge

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor in Chief; Civil Engineering Magazine, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, ASCE World Headquarters, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA.20191-4400,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 12, Pg. 37-40


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Erosion and landslides along the bluffs bordering the Mississippi River in Natchez, Miss. became an emergency situation when the only road to residents below the bluff was cut off from the town. Natchez received funds from the Natural Resources Conservative Service to begin repair, and the Congress has also authorized funds for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do further stabilization work. The bluffs themselves have been declared national historic landmarks, and at least one of the homes sitting at the edge is also a Historic Landmark. All the homes along the edge have lost their front yards due to the erosion and have only rear access. The city awarded a design/build team to build a temporary road to stabilize the bluffs and restore the orginal road. The work includes a variety of innovative geotechnical remediation technologies. This is the first time soil nails have been used in the wind-blown silt that is called Mississippi loess. It is also the first time single-bore multiple-anchor ground anchors have been used in the U.S. Soil mixing augers were used to install soldier piles, and this was also a first. Finally, a unique mix of several technologies was used to build out a section of the uppermost retaining wall in order to restore front yards to the home-owners who live at the top of the bluffs. Lightweight aggregate was used to reduce the loads on the retaining wall. The Corps will continue to stabilization work with further funds, using many of the same techniques as on this project.

Subject Headings: Cliffs | Erosion | Landslides | Mississippi River | Remediation | Soil nailing | Stabilization

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