DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - Sep 30, 2014) - To build the infrastructure around the new Gary Chicago International Airport, contractors were tasked with building a bridge over questionable soil. Their solution: ACH Foam Technologies' EPS Geofoam.

A two-span steel bridge was part of the airport's roadway expansion. Unfortunately, preliminary analysis found that soil about 12 feet down contained a large amount of peat, which would settle over time and destabilize the bridge.

Contractors picked ACH Foam Technologies' Foam-Control® EPS Type 22 Geofoam because the material would distribute the weight of the bridge and prevent any future settlement of the roadway. Estimates for stage one primary settlement of the soil in that area predicted anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Geofoam eliminated that settlement time, and the closure lasted weeks instead of months.

Oracle Engineering was the Geofoam Design Company for this bridge expansion. Oracle's Marvin Cook is an EPS design engineer for projects all over the world, and he considers Geofoam design and installation the preferable alternative to addressing soil problems for conventional fills, in part for its flexibility.

"We place utilities in EPS all the time. For this roadway, we installed the sewer pipe directly in the Geofoam material," he said.

In this case, using vertical Geofoam also helped the construction team avoid negotiating with a nearby business whose property line was too close to the bridge embankment to allow for the slope of a conventional soil fill.

Using Geofoam was a new, but easily conquered challenge for the construction team.

"We hadn't done this before," admitted Pete Keilman, the project superintendent for the roadway expansion bridge. But the placement of the Geofoam blocks went well. His crew was able to cut a trench through the Geofoam to make space for the sewer pipe.

"Engineers provided detailed drawings we followed on the jobsite, and ACH Foam provided a hotwire that would easily cut through the foam. We also used a chainsaw and a smaller saw in various sections," Keilman said.

The installation, which used a total of 43,000 cubic yards of Foam-Control® EPS Type 22 Geofoam, was a success. 

ACH's Frank Kiesecker says Geofoam is being used in transportation projects with greater frequency. As he put it, "Geofoam has about 1/100th the weight of soil and saves money and time for installation and road closures."