Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil Engineering

Major Professor

Richard Bennett

Committee Members

Eric Drumm, Edwin Burdette


The behavior of a novel pile framed retaining wall developed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is investigated using a 2D non-linear finite element (FE) analysis for. The wall design eliminates the need for a construction right of way behind the wall; thus it is ideal for urban areas. The design concept consists of vertical and battered H pile sections as the structural frame, and a concrete facing that is installed as the soil is excavated during top-down construction. Vertical tie-down anchors and a concrete cap and facing are used to counteract overturning moments. A 2-D FE analysis of the wall system was conducted to understand how the earth pressures are applied to the sloped wall, and how the loads are distributed throughout the piling frame. An increased understanding of the performance of this new system will lead to more economic pile sections and spacing under service loads. In addition, the construction sequence was modeled to investigate the non-linear response of the wall system. Parametric studies were conducted to investigate wall performance for different soil conditions, boundary conditions, wall heights, and tie-down forces. The results show that active earth pressures are adequate for design and that TDOT’s original design was conservative.

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