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M Mi in ni im mu um m C Co ov ve er r C Ca al lc cu ul la at ti io on n T Te em mp pl la at te e T Tu ut to or ri ia al l
O OV VE ER RV VI IE EW W
This tutorial will provide the user with a simplistic approach to calculating minimum cover required
to maintain the structural integrity of a buried flexible pipe subjected to heavy surface loads. The
MathCAD template created for this purpose, Structural Performance at Minimum Cover, is
structured to analyze both flexible and rigid pavements using Boussinesqs solution for
rectangularly distributed surface loads, the Modified Iowa Formula and AASHTO Section 18. By
changing specific parameters, loads (design highway, railway, airport runway and taxiway, and
construction) can be mimicked to predict structural performance of a buried pipe. The contents of
this tutorial will allow the user to determine the acceptability of a given installation and make
adjustments as required.
P PR RO OB BL LE EM M S ST TA AT TE EM ME EN NT T
a.) Determine vertical stress increase, p, on a buried structure when it is subjected to
surface loading q and is buried a distance z below the ground surface.
b.) Predict deflection and wall thrust on a buried flexible pipe subjected to these installation
conditions.
P PR RO OC CE ED DU UR RE E
a.) Boussinesqs solution for a rectangularly loaded area can be used to compute vertical
stress increase.
b.) The Modified Iowa Equation (R.K. Watkins, 1958) and AASHTO Section 18 can be used
to estimate deflection and wall thrust, respectively.
F FI IL LE E I IN NP PU UT TS S
All file inputs shown in red and preceded by an asterisk (*) are user-defined variables that vary
from installation to installation and must be verified before the calculation can be deemed valid
(see Table 1).
Table 1: Input variables
Item
Input
variable
Comments
Type of live load LL 1 =highway load
2 =airport runway load
3 =airport taxiway, aprons, hardstands, run-up pads
4 =railway load
Type of pavement PT 1 =flexible (asphalt or gravel)
2 =rigid (concrete)
Rigid pavement thickness t Applicable to rigid pavements only; if a flexible
pavement applies, enter a value of zero (0) here.
Dimensions of concrete
slab
L
c
W
c
Applicable to rigid pavements only, length (L
c
) and
width (W
c
) of the slab are measured as the
longitudinal and transverse distances between
expansion joints, respectively.
2
Table 1: Input variables
Item
Input
variable
Comments
Structure burial depth z 1. flexible pavements: measured from top of
structure to top of pavement section
2. rigid pavements: measured from top of
structure to bottom of rigid pavement section
3. railways: measured from top of structure to
bottom of railroad tie
C/C distance between
wheels (or ties)
D 1. highway loads (H20 and H25): D=6 ft
2. railway loads: D=1.75 ft (typical); measured as
the c/c distance between adjacent ties
3. airport loads: D varies with aircraft type
4. heavy equipment/construction loads: D
varies with equipment and manufacturer
Wheel footprint L
W
1. Length of tire footprint (L) a function of tire
inflation pressure:
highway (H loads): tire pressure =65-120psi
2. W =single tire width
3. For highways:
a. H20: W=16
b. H25: W=20
4. For railways:
W =width of tie =0.75 ft
L =length of tie =8, 8.5, or 9 ft
Maximum load/axle P
L
1. highway:
a. H20: P
L
=32,000 lb (rear axle)
b. H25: P
L
=40,000 lb (rear axle)
2. railway (E80): P
L
=80,000 lb/axle
3. airport: P
L
varies
4. equipment/construction: P
L
varies
Pipe inside diameter ID Available through pipe manufacturer
Distance from ID to N.A. c c
Pipe wall area A
Pipe stiffness PS
Unit weight of cover
s
Varies with soil type and compaction effort
Deflection lag factor D
L
D
L
=1.0
Modulus of soil reaction E Varies with soil type, compaction effort and depth of
bury
Bedding constant k Varies with bedding angle(): =0: k=0.110
=180: k=0.083
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S SO OL LU UT TI IO ON N
a.) Computation of Vertical Stress Increase
Boussinesqs solution is written to calculate vertical stress increase at a corner of a
rectangularly distributed surface load. This calls for the addition and subtraction of regions to
obtain desired results. The critical stress point, or the point on the buried structure at which
the vertical stress increase is greatest, is different for flexible pavements than that for rigid
pavements. Flexible pavements tend to translate load directly to the soil, resulting in the
load distributions shown in Figures 1 and 2. The critical stress point under a flexible
pavement will always be centered under one wheel (point 1). Rigid pavements distribute the
load across the entire slab, resulting in a uniform distribution of load across the pavement
structure (see Figure 3). Therefore, a buried structures critical stress point under a rigid
pavement will always be in the middle of the slab, centered between wheels (point 2).
Derivations resulting from Boussinesqs methodology for each case are illustrated below.
Flexible pavements:
1.) Highway and construction loads:
Figure 1
Constants*

m n

1
z
L
2 z
W
2
2
z
L
2
( )
z
W
D
2
+
3
z
L
2
( )
z
W
D
2

z
W
n
z
L
m *
D
W
L
D-W W
Wheel footprints
L/2
W/2
1
z
1
q
L
ground surface
q
ELEVATION
PLAN
D-W/2
D+ W/2
x 2
1
-
1
+
1
x 4 L/2
L/2
x 2 L/2
W/2
p =
4
Influence values for each case can be computed from the following equation:
Thus, p

is equal to the product of the surface loading, q, and the sum of the influence
values:
This yields:
2.) Railway loads:
Here, the axle load is distributed over 3 ties, as illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 2
(3) ) 2 2 4 (
3 2 1
I I I q p +
(1)
1
1 2
tan
1
2
1
1 2
4
1
2 2 2 2
2 2
1
2 2
2 2
2 2 2 2
2 2
1
1
1
]
1

,
_

+ +
+ +
+

,
_

+ +
+ +
+ + +
+ +

n m n m
n m n m
n m
n m
n m n m
n m n m
I
(2)
1


n
I q p
RR ties
L (TYP.)
PLAN
W/2
1
W
(TYP.)
D (TYP.)
0.2 q
ELEVATION
D-W
(TYP.)
z
1
0.6 q
C/L RAIL
ground surface
0.2 q
C/L RAIL
5
p can be obtained by multiplying the last two terms in Equation 3 (I
2
and I
3
) by two and
distributing q according to Figure 2.
For rigid pavements:
Surface loading, q, is distributed across the entire slab, as illutrated in Figure 3.
Figure 3
Constants
m n

1
z
L
c
2 z
W
c
2
W /2
p =
c
x 4
L /2
c
2
[ ] (4) ) ( 20 . 0 60 . 0 4
3 2 1
I I I q p +
W
(width of concrete slab)
Wheel footprints
W /2
ELEVATION
z
c
W
L L
(
l
e
n
g
t
h

o
f

c
o
n
c
r
e
t
e

s
l
a
b
)
PLAN
c
L


/
2
2
c
c
2
q
ground surface
6
Using the constants shown in the table above and Equation 1, the influence value, I
1
, can be
found; p can then be solved for using Equation 5 below:
b. Computation of Vertical Deflection and Wall Thrust
Using Modified Iowa Equation, vertical deflection
y
can be estimated:
where P =total load on pipe (lb/ft)
D
e
=pipe effective diameter (ft)
Using AASHTO Section 18, wall thrust, T, can be estimated:
R RE ES SU UL LT TS S
The installation can be considered adequate if
y
<5% and
T<3000 psi. If these criteria are exceeded, adjustments must
be made as deemed appropriate. This may include increasing
the depth of bury, tightening up backfill and installation
requirements, or decreasing pipe diameter. The latter may
require additional pipe barrels to achieve desired hydraulic
performance.
This template produces adequate results for z0.83 ft (10).
Figure 4 shows that the increase of vertical pressure on a
buried structure decreases very quickly with depth and
becomes asymptotic towards zero for depths greater than 5
times the width of the loaded area.
R RE EF FE ER RE EN NC CE ES S
1. American Association for State, Highway and
Transportation Officials Load Reduction Factor Design
(AASHTO LRFD) Bridge Specifications.
2. American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way
Association (AREMA) Manual for Railway Engineering.
3. Das, B.M., Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, 3
rd
edition, PWS Publishing Co., Boston, MA, 1994.
4. Katona, M.G., Minimum Cover Heights for Corrugated
Plastic Pipe Under Vehicle Loading, Transportation
Research Record No. 1288, pgs. 127-135, 1990.
5. Moser, A.P., Buried Pipe Design, McGraw-Hill, Inc., New
York, NY, 1990.
(6) 100
2
061 . 0
77 . 53
2
095 . 1
(%)
3
3
3

,
_

,
_

,
_

,
_


e e
e
e
L
y
D
E
PS D
D
P k
D
D
(5) 4
1
I q p
(7)
2 A
P
T

Figure 4. Vertical pressure isobars


under a uniformly loaded square area