18 thoughts on “Balls of Steel: Rat Creek photos, Friday 4/2/21

  1. In the absence of detailed engineering information, certainly, I can only (provisionally) conclude that the rebuilding of the same kind of structure that failed, while merely upsizing the drainage works, that someone is living in a dreamworld. IF storm intensities and periods increase with climate change as widely predicted, some future taxpayers will have to endure a similar failure, perhaps worse than this last one. Yes, it may take decades. But it might not. The conditions that created this failure could occur again, and size (short of a bridge) won’t matter, as has previously been pointed out by another post by someone else.

    I am presuming that this structure is not being build to dam standards. Even when compacted to “standards,” a pile of unconsolidated material is still unconsolidated. And even big culverts can clog, as can overflow structures. Surficial rilling and gullying is inevitable, and planting on a fill of ninety percent of maximum dry density will reduce soil pore space to the point no plant roots (or much water) can penetrate (until the structure weathers to a substandard condition, which will invite surficial slope failure). Yes, this issue can be “resolved” by periodically rebuilding the surface, but it’s an unending process. The presence of roots indicates substandard compaction, and can (commonly does) lead to slope failure.

    On the upstream face, any buildup of water for a calculable length of time, can be expected to force water into the native/embankment soil interface in time. Such a buildup also can result in accelerated weathering of the compacted embankment a bit faster than the downstream surface. Unfortunately, earthquakes, even ones one doesn’t “feel,” can affect the integrity of the unconsolidated structure. That is a predictable unknown–as it were . . .

    Please kerrect my errers.

  2. 😲WOW – that makes my stomach feel funny.🤢 I’m telling myself … it’s the angle … it’s the angle. 📸😬 …gusty !!!

  3. Not only is it the experience one gains thru the years — It’s knowing just what your equipment is capable of + having ‘top notch’ equipment that you can put your faith in, and trust your life with.

  4. We missed you Wayne. I for one, def love reading your insight into this project and process. Thanks for more information, and detail.

  5. We were talking with a driver last week. The crews are super motivated to get done and gone – no cell reception, no internet on site!!

  6. Compaction and compaction.
    Only compaction test results data tell the tale.
    Then, who clears storm run-off debris flow from all the various culverts under state highway one between Ragged point and Carmel?
    Maybe the Shadow knows.

  7. Uh, oh! I didn’t notice the straw rolls at the bottom of the (how steep? 1 1/2:1? 2:1?), improperly installed. Watch for gully development right in the center, I predict. Even “properly” installed, the trapped water flows laterally to the lowest spot, then overflows, cutting deeper rills than the rest. For show only. Utterly useless, and sometimes (most of the time) they make things worse. A waste of time and money. They were invented by a CALTRANS employee. If I recall correctly, the company was in his wife’s name. Their kids may own it now, or it could have been sold. Maybe the patent’s run out?

    Is that tractor fitted with a front-mounted sheep’s-foot roller? Are they track-walking it and/or do they plan to grid-roll the surface? No matter how they do it, that much catchment area will produce a huge amount of runoff that will seek the shortest path to the bottom. Then, with each succeeding event, it will deepen the resulting gullies, starting at the bottom where volume and velocity is the greatest, and working their way uphill until there’s not enough catchment left to “feed” them.

  8. “Compaction and compaction.” Correct. But even then, it’s only a sample. If the soils engineer is on-site all of the time the equipment is working, the chances are it will me MOSTLY good. Soils engineering reports are generally festooned with qualifiers, however, and mistakes can happen. They may or may not be consequential. For example, I have posited that the “Green Spot” on the face of the Oroville Dam is due to insufficient compaction, not a breach in the structure. This project is not being built to dam standards, however, even if the chances of it maybe needing to temporarily function as one on occasion. I’d still like to see cost comparisons between a bridge and this job . . .

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