An important if unfortunate aspect of all engineering is the study of what went wrong, failures and forensic engineering. For geotechnical engineering this often involves landslides, damage to structures from settlement or other foundation problems such as collapsible soils or swelling clays.
[Editor] The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) had a major problem on their hands after a bridge on I-495 was leaning…one side of the bridge was 18 inches higher than the other. The culprit? A pile of fill adjacent to the bridge was loading soft soils beneath. So what do you do about it? In this contributed article by Dennis M. O’Shea, bridge engineer in the FHWA Delaware Division Office, he describes the problems faced by DelDOT, the causes, and how they fixed it. The article originally appeared in Public Roads Magazine, and is republished here with permission. [/Editor]