Installing load bearing piles within the reinforcement zone of mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining walls is common practice in the construction industry. Bridge abutments are often constructed in this manner to adapt to increasing right-of-way constraints, and must be capable of supporting horizontal loads imposed by, traffic, earthquakes, and thermal expansion and contraction. Previous researchers have concluded that lateral pile resistance is reduced when pile are placed next to MSE walls but no design codes have been established to address this issue. Full –scale testing of statically applied lateral loads to four 24”x0.5” pipe piles, and cyclically applied lateral load to four 12.75”x0.375” pipe piles placed 1.5-5.3 pile diameters behind a 20-foot MSE wall was performed. The MSE wall was constructed using 5’x10’ concrete panels and was supported with ribbed strip and welded wire streel reinforcements. The computer software LPILE was used to back-calculate P-multipliers for the 24” piles. P-multipliers are used to indicate the amount of reduction in lateral resistance the piles experience due to their placement near the MSE wall. Previous researchers have proposed that any pile spaced 3.9 pile diameters (D) or more away from the MSE wall will have a P-multiplier of 1; meaning the pile experiences no reduction in lateral resistance due to its proximity to the wall. P-multipliers for piles spaced closer than 3.9D away from the wall decrease linearly as distance from the wall decreases. P-multipliers for the 24” piles spaced 5.1D, 4.1D, 3.0D, and 2.0D were 1, 0.84, 0.55, and 0.44 respectively. Lateral resistance of the 12.75” cyclically loaded piles decreased as the number of loading cycles increased. Lateral resistance of the piles when loads were applied in the direction of the wall was less than the lateral resistance of the piles when loads were applied away from the wall at larger pile head loads. The maximum tensile force experienced by the soil reinforcements generally occurred near the wall side of the pile face when the lateral loads were applied in the direction of the wall. Behind the pile, the tensile force decreased as the distance from the wall increased. Equation 5-4, modified from Rollins (2018) was found to be adequate for predicting the maximum tensile force experienced by the ribbed strip reinforcements during the static loading of the 24” pipe piles, particularly for lower loads. About 65% of the measured forces measured in this study fell within the one standard deviation boundary of the proposed equation.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





laterally loaded pile, MSE wall, p-y curve, p-multiplier, cyclic piles



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Engineering Commons