Case Histories of Driven Tubular Steel Piles on Road Projects

Henry Zhang and Giammaria Gentile

Large diameter open-ended driven tubular steel piles (DTSP) have become a popular foundation type on transport infrastructure projects in the past decade or so in Australia. DTSP has been widely used on a few major highway projects on the East Coast of Australia, including the Macleay River and Floodplain Bridge near Kempsey, the recently completed $5b Woolgoolga to Ballina (W2B) Pacific Highway upgrade, on which DTSP up to 2.4m in diameter and 65m in length were installed on three major river bridges, and the under construction Nowra Bridge Project on the Princes Highway. However, this pile type is relatively new compared to traditional bored piles and smaller size driven precast concrete piles. There are limited references for driven tubular steel piles especially in rock. The authors have observed the designers’ reluctance of using DTSP even in favourable ground conditions and project engineers’ lack of experience in the field on installation, verification and interpretation of the testing/monitoring results which sometimes caused project delay and associated commercial dispute. These are the frequently asked questions about DTSP by both designers and contractors: what’s the allowable set? Can we stop piles in soils? Can we rely on plug for bearing capacity? Can we drive piles into high to very high strength rocks? Can these piles penetrate the thick dense gravel layer before reaching the rock? Can these piles be driven in hard rocks without damaging the toe? How to interpret PDA test results and PDM monitoring results to verify pile capacity and integrity in the field? The presenters have the privilege of working on a few major highway bridges where DSTP was used as key foundation type and built a large PDA test database of over 400 piles with various diameters founding in soils to hard rock in the past 10 years. In this technical talk they will share with the audience on the following:

About the speaker

Henry Zhang Technical Director, Aurecon

Henry is a Technical Director with Aurecon. He has over 25 years of professional experience in geotechnical engineering design and construction in Australia, Singapore and China. Henry has broad experience in geotechnical design and construction phase services on foundations, soft ground, deep excavations and retaining walls and finite element analysis on complex soil-structure interaction. He has played a lead role on the following recent major projects:

  • Coomera Connector Stage 1 North tender
  • M6 Stage 1
  • WestConnex 3B (Rozelle Interchange)
  • Pacific Highway Upgrade Woolgoolga to Ballina

Henry’s leading technical skills have been demonstrated by publishing 24 technical papers/presentations and giving 4 invited lectures at local & overseas universities on soft ground improvement, retaining walls and pile foundations.

Giammaria Gentile Fulton Hogan

Giammaria, with 20 years of broad experience, brings a unique perspective to the engineering and design fields gained on complex road, bridge, rail, infrastructure and building projects undertaken in Australia, Europe, Africa and Middle East. In the past twelve years, he has concentrated on managing the engineering aspects of major infrastructures projects. His thorough understanding of contractual and project control requirements, design / construction and maintenance methodologies, coupled with exposure to diverse projects and challenges, ensures Giammaria has the confidence and ability to seek alternative solutions in the delivery of high quality, value for money projects. The former Director of Rizzani de Eccher Australia and Project Leader for Bridges and Structures on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Project, Giammaria is currently the Engineering Manager for Eastern Construction at Fulton Hogan, leading the Design, Planning/Staging, and Digital Engineering and Survey teams. Giammaria is also Board Member of the Civil College of Engineers Australia where he brings his passion about engineering with the aim at maximising projects outcome for the community, the asset owners and the taxpayers.

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