Presto Geosystems – Geocells Protect Railroads Against Climate Change

Presto Geosystems – Geocells Protect Railroads Against Climate Change
Address: Presto Geosystems
670 N Perkins Street
PO Box 2399 Appleton
Wisconsin USA 54912-2399
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Presto Geosystems

Geocells Protect Railroads Against Potential Impacts of Climate Change

This article first appeared in the Railway-News magazine Issue 2 2022.

Throughout history, railroad companies have had to contend with every type of extreme weather event or geohazard imaginable.

In particular, flooding and major storms have cost the railroad industry billions of dollars in maintenance and repairs, and with the relative frequency of such events increasing, many railroad operators are taking proactive approaches to mitigate future risks. For steep embankments, or railroad right-of-ways (ROW) that are adjacent to steep slopes, selecting a suitable slope protection strategy can help mitigate geotechnical risks, particularly where such slopes may be susceptible to excessive erosion or landslides.

This article discusses how the GEOWEB® Geocells were integrated into a slope protection strategy for a rail line located in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of the US – an area where climate and soil conditions frequently converge to create the ‘perfect storm’ for rainfall-induced slope failures and shallow landslides. Whereas traditional erosion protection products such as erosion control blankets and turf reinforcement mats protect sloped surfaces long enough to establish vegetation, the GEOWEB® Slope Protection System offers a permanent erosion control strategy to stabilise the full depth of a vegetated soil or aggregate cover against sliding. Through an interconnected honeycomb-like network, the HDPE-based GEOWEB Geocells provide apparent cohesion and strength to infill materials that would otherwise be erodible or unstable on steep slopes.

Case Study: Protecting an Adjacent Railroad Line from Future Landslides

A record rainfall event created saturated soils, resulting in a major landslide near Castle Rock, Washington, on the railroad’s busy double-track mainline between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. The landslide blocked heavy freight and passenger traffic for five days, resulting in costly downtime. Prior to this major shutdown, the site’s wet conditions caused smaller traffic-blocking slides, but due to the increased frequency of the landslides, the project owners, engineers, and contractors needed to find a viable solution to stabilising the embankments.

Download the full PDF here.

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