An innovative geotechnical monitoring system for soft ground treatment on the W2B Pacific Highway upgrade project

Henry Zhang


This presentation describes an innovative system for monitoring the performance of soft ground treatments on the Woolgoolga to Ballina (W2B) Pacific Highway upgrade project. The $4.3 billion project is Australia’s largest regional infrastructure project and will upgrade about 155km of highway between Woolgoolga and Ballina, to four lane, divided road. Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has engaged Pacific Complete, comprising of Laing O’Rourke and Parsons Brinckerhoff, to deliver the project in partnership with the RMS Pacific Highway Office.

One of the biggest challenges on this project is constructing more than 25km of infrastructure over soft ground in a period of 1 to 2 years’. During construction, short term slope stability and settlement will be monitored by a total of 1500 instruments recording up to 10 million measurements. This will enable the team to maintain slope stability with early preventative action and ensure that projected long term settlements are within acceptable limits.

Following the standard approach, is was estimated that instrumentation would produce up to 80000 data files requiring manual handling. To process the data efficiently and limit the potential for manual handling errors, Pacific Complete developed an Instrumentation and Monitoring (I&M) system using its project integration platform. The system automatically warehouses data on the projects servers and presents a real time dashboard to the team using Qlik Sense and its GIS extension. In addition to providing high information availability, transparency, and reliability, this system is expected to realise savings of $2.5 million in manual information handling costs alone. The system can be extended progressively to support additional instruments and features.

The benefits of this I&M system include fast processing of massive data sets on a daily basis, automatic integration with GIS map, chainages, instrument type and locations, lateral displacement plots, settlement plots (predicted and measured) in longitudinal sections, ratios of lateral to vertical displacement and fill height plots, pore pressure plots and existing road/structure movement plots.

About Henry ZhangHZhang

Henry is a Specialist Geotechnical Engineer with WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff. He has over 20 years of professional experience in geotechnical engineering design and construction in Australia, Singapore and China.

Henry has broad experience in geotechnical design on foundations, soft ground improvement, slope stability, deep excavations and retaining walls and finite element analysis on complex soil-structure interaction.

Henry’s leading technical skills have been demonstrated by recent publications in the proceedings of International Conference on Soft Ground Engineering (ICSGE 2015), AGS Symposium 2015 & 2016, the 15th Australasian Tunnelling Conference 2014, Piling & Deep Foundations Conference 2015 & 2014.

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