To the editor:
The article in the August 2012 magazine describing geosynthetic-reinforced soil (GRS) bridge abutments has a major element missing.
The author shows an innocence of the history of this technology in that the name of Robert Barrett is absent. I designed and supervised the construction of abutments on a 140-ft tied-arch span in 1998 in Black Hawk, Colo., fully a year prior to the Founders Meadows Bridge referenced in the article. Mike Adams of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) came to observe the testing of the abutments. The Founders Meadows Bridge is actually an MSE abutment, a fundamentally different technology from GRS.
This letter is not to brag about who was the first to construct this type of abutment in that I am quite sure that a young engineer in Mesopotamia or China beat my meager efforts by a few thousand years. The point is that the author apparently does not understand the modern history of GRS or, more correctly, geosynthetic-confined soil (GCS).
All of the designers mentioned in the story, I am quite sure, will acknowledge being inspired, instructed, pushed, dragged, cajoled, or otherwise motivated by Bob in their decision-making process in the direction of GRS abutments over the last 20 years or more. A background description of the technology without crediting Bob Barrett with the direction of a tremendous research effort and the promotion of GRS in not only abutments but in walls and rockfall containment systems is quite incomplete.
Albert C. Ruckman, P. E.
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