Continuous Flight Auger Piles In The Blue Ridge: A Case Study Using Instrumentation In Pile Design

Jacobson, Jesse R.
Organization: Deep Foundations Institute
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2011
A large casino complex in Cherokee, North Carolina recently underwent a $633 million expansion that involved substantial foundation challenges. The site is located in a valley on the southern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where subsurface conditions typically consist of varying thicknesses of fill overlying alluvium, residuum, partially weathered rock and rock. The fill and alluvium contain cobbles and boulders as large as several feet in diameter. The residuum and partially weathered rock are very thick in some areas, and the depth at which consistently high quality rock is encountered is highly variable. To reduce the foundation costs for the expansion, continuous flight auger (CFA) piles were proposed in lieu of micropiles. CFA piles are not generally used in this geologic environment and concerns regarding their selection included: (1) an uncertainty that CFA piles could be successfully constructed given the difficult conditions and (2) a lack of regional data regarding unit resistance values and load transfer characteristics. To address these concerns, a design-phase test program was undertaken to evaluate pile constructability, develop an understanding of the load transfer behavior, and establish the required pile lengths. The program included soil test borings, shear wave velocity measurements, timed auger probes, instrumented pile load tests and observation of exhumed piles. It was demonstrated that CFA piles could be advanced through the fill, cobble/boulder-laden alluvium, residuum and into the partially weathered rock, albeit with some limitations. Under axial loading, the pile response was very stiff and relatively high unit resistance values were measured. Pile instrumentation allowed for the evaluation and use of design pile lengths shorter than that tested, and the overall reduction in pile lengths yielded a 40 percent reduction in foundation cost. In general, CFA piles were determined to be a suitable, economical foundation alternative.
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