Sidewalk Undermining Studies: Phase II, Soil Studies

Report No: 77-R20

Published in 1976

About the report:

The Fairfax Residency of the Virginia Department of Highways & Transportation spent $3.6 million between FY71 and FY76 replacing or repairing deteriorated and undermined sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. Of this total, $3.4 million was spent for replacement or repair along secondary roads in Fairfax County alone. At present, residency personnel estimate that as much as $7.0 to $8.0 million would be needed to correct the existing sidewalk problems throughout Fairfax County. While other problems associated with sidewalk maintenance in the area are severe, the most difficult to handle is represented by the many sidewalks that have been undermined through erosion of the immediately underlying soft. Undermining removes the support from under the sidewalks and results in faulting of the joints and the creation of peripheral drainage and siltation problems. More importantly, the faulted joints and other sidewalk distortions create hazardous conditions which need immediate attention.

A previous report from this study dealt with interim maintenance recommendations and the hydrological considerations involved in sidewalk undermining. The present report describes the procedures used to correlate sidewalk undermining with particular soil types. It should be pointed out that this connection has long been suspected, but never fully proven through technological means. A later report will present recommendations for changes in sidewalk construction specifications and final recommendations for maintenance replacement.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Harold W. Plott, Kenneth H. McGhee

Last updated: January 28, 2024

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