Dredge-and-Fill Saves $2 Million at Steel Mill Built in Swamp

by B. Kent Merritt, (M.ASCE), Geotech. Engr.; Woodward-Clyde Consultants, Houston, Texas,
Harold Howell, Resident Proj. Engr.; Lockwood-Greene Engrs., Beaumont, Texas,
Michael W. O'Neill, (M.ASCE), Asst. Prof.; Univ. of Houston, Houston, Texas,
Ronald Calsing, (M.ASCE), Geotech. Engr.; Soil & Material Engrs., Raleigh, N.C.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1978, Vol. 48, Issue 9, Pg. 70-74

Document Type: Feature article


The Georgetown Texas Steel Corp., in late 1973, accepted the challenge of developing a previously cleared cypress swamp on the east side of the Neches River across from Beaumont, Texas. The site was a typical recently deposited backswamp with an accumulation of hydraulic spoil along the river frontage and a nominal 20-ft thickness of very soft, compressible clay immediately below the surface. Stability and settlement resulting from loads associated with a steel mill present a design challenge at such a site. The main structures were economically developed by dredged removal of the soft strata and hydraulic backfilling with river sand densified by vibroflotation, allowing the use of high-capacity spread footings for all but the heaviest loads. Roads and railroads were constructed on floating embankments placed directly on the soft clay. Preloading was employed to allow shallow founding of auxiliary structures. The mill was in operation less than 3 years after the initial study of the site.

Subject Headings: Soft soils | Dredging | Steel | Wetlands (fresh water) | Rivers and streams | Soil compression | Clays | Hydraulic loads | Texas | United States

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