SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1999

Measurement of Earth Pressures on Concrete Box Culverts under Highway Embankments


To obtain a better understanding of the stresses acting on cast-in-place concrete box culverts, and to investigate the conditions which resulted in a culvert failure under about 12 meters of backfill, two sections of a new culvert were instrumented. The measured earth pressure distribution was found to depend upon the height of the embankment over the culvert. For low embankment heights (less than one-half the culvert width), the average measured vertical earth pressures, weighted by tributary length, were about 30% greater than the recommended AASHTO pressures. The measured lateral pressures were slightly greater than the AASHTO pressures. As the embankment height increased, the measured weighted average vertical stress exceeded the AASHTO pressures by about 20%. Lateral pressures which exceeded the vertical pressures were recorded at the bottom of the culvert walls, and small lateral pressures were recorded on the upper locations of the wall. The high lateral pressures at the base of the wall are consistent with the results from finite element analyses with high density (modulus) backfill material placed around the culvert.

Author Information

Yang, MZ
Univ. of Tenn., Knoxville, TN
Drumm, EC
Univ. of Tenn., Knoxville, TN
Bennett, RM
Univ. of Tenn., Knoxville, TN
Mauldon, M
Univ. of Tenn., Knoxville, TN
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 87–100
DOI: 10.1520/STP14215S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5405-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2604-6