Vera Cruz Access Ramp for Bridge of Americas


Republic of Panama
Department of Transportation


Tensar Earth Technologies, Inc.

Construction of the Vera Cruz Access Ramp for the Bridge of the Americas was underway in April 1992 when a failure occurred in an approximate sixty-meter section of embankment. The failed embankment was constructed to a height of about six meters using rock fill placed over soft organic soils. For remediation of the embankment failure, the Republic of Panama proposed to construct an alternate alignment to by-pass the failed section with a maximum embankment height of four meters. A design was developed utilizing geogrids, staged construction and surcharging to safely and economically construct the new embankment. Biaxial geogrid was initially used to construct an approximate one-meter thick sand platform over the organic soils, which existed to depths of about 13.5 meters. Multiple layers of uniaxial geogrid were used as primary reinforcement to allow construction of the embankment to a height of four meters. After a waiting period to allow dissipation of pore pressures in the foundation soils, an additional 1.5 meters of surcharge was placed. Settlement plates and piezometers were utilized to monitor the embankment construction. The project was completed in 1993. A technical paper was presented for the project at the Geosynthetic ’95 Conference and was selected as a finalist in the Awards of Excellence competition.