Can Helical Piles Be Used For Bridge Foundations?

January 19, 2024

Bridges are crucial in connecting communities, facilitating transportation, and supporting economic development. The success and longevity of these vital structures heavily depend on the type of foundation chosen during construction. 

Among the various options available, helical piles emerge as a superior choice, particularly for long-span bridges and areas with challenging soil conditions. 

How Helical Piles Work

Helical piles work on the principle of utilizing helical plates or blades to screw into the soil, creating a strong connection with stable strata below the less stable surface layers. This process provides lateral stability and prevents settlement, ensuring the longevity and safety of the bridge. The helical shape of the piles increases the bearing capacity and enhances their ability to resist both axial and lateral loads.

The Process of Building a Helical Pile Bridge Foundation

Helical piles should be fabricated and installed by a certified and experienced contractor to ensure safety and quality before, during, and after the process. 

1. Site Assessment

The first step in constructing a helical pile bridge foundation involves a thorough site assessment to understand soil conditions, geological features, and load requirements. This data informs the design and placement of the helical piles.

2. Helical Pile Installation

A specialized helical pile installation rig is employed to screw the piles into the ground. This process involves rotating the helical piles into the soil until they reach the desired depth, providing a secure and stable foundation. The piles are spaced strategically based on engineering calculations to distribute the load evenly.

3. Connection to Bridge Substructure:

Once the helical piles are in place, they are connected to the bridge substructure using specialized brackets. These brackets secure the piles and transfer the load from the bridge to the piles, creating a robust foundation system.

Top Benefits of Helical Piles for Bridge Foundations

What makes helical piles better than other types of foundations — in bridge applications and others? 

Load-bearing Capacity

Helical piles offer exceptional load-bearing capacity, making them ideal for supporting the immense weight and dynamic loads experienced by bridges. This is particularly crucial for long-span bridges where the foundation must withstand significant forces over extended distances.

Adaptability to Poor Soil Conditions

One of the key advantages of helical piles is their adaptability to various soil conditions. Whether dealing with loose or compacted soils, expansive clays, or areas prone to subsidence, helical piles provide a stable foundation by penetrating deep into the ground, reaching more stable strata.

Minimal Environmental Impact

Compared to traditional foundation methods, helical piles have a minimal environmental impact. Their installation requires less excavation, reducing disturbance to the natural surroundings. Additionally, helical piles generate less noise and vibration during construction, minimizing disruption to nearby communities.

Speed and Efficiency

The installation process of helical piles is faster and more efficient than traditional foundation methods. This is crucial for bridge projects that require timely completion, minimizing traffic disruptions and ensuring swift access for communities. 

Contact Elite Helical for Expert Helical Pile Installation

Helical piles’ load-bearing capacity, adaptability, minimal environmental impact, and efficient installation process make them a reliable choice for ensuring the stability and durability of bridge structures. As technology advances, helical piles continue to redefine the standards for bridge foundation construction, contributing to the development of safer, more resilient infrastructure.

If you have a foundation build, repair, or replacement project, get in touch with our team to learn how helical piles could work for you. 

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From design, to supply, to installation, Elite Helical is your trusted turnkey helical pile contractor. With versatile tools and excellent customer service, we can provide an effective solution for your project.

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