Erosion Protection for Soil Slopes Along Virginia's Highways


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Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research


A survey of the state of practice for designing slope erosion control measures within VDOT's nine districts has been conducted. On the basis of the survey, it is clear that there are no specific design procedures currently in use within VDOT for dealing with slope erosion. VDOT designers generally try to limit erosion by diverting runoff from adjacent areas, controlling concentrated flows on slopes, and establishing vegetation on slopes as quickly as possible. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Departments of Transportation in states surrounding Virginia (Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina) were contacted. The state of practice for the FHWA and for these states appears to be similar to that used by VDOT. A review of the literature for soil erosion was performed. The universal soil loss equation (USLE), an empirical equation developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was found to provide the best available quantitative tool for evaluating factors controlling the erosion process and determining what level of protection is appropriate. The authors recommend that the USLE be used to supplement VDOT's current principle-based design practices.



Soil slopes, Erosion, Erosion control, Erosion protection, USLE


Jessee A. Scarborough, George M. Filz, James K. Mitchell, and Thomas L. Brandon. "Erosion Protection for Soil Slopes Along Virginia's Highways," Virginia Transportation Research Council 530 Edgemont Road Charlottesville, VA 22903, Report No. VTRC 01-CR3, Oct. 2000.