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In an ideal geotechnical world, we would have subsurface risk-savvy clients and owners, good borehole, coverage across our sites, and lots of in situ and laboratory testing including high complexity testing.
However, competition for “lowest price engineering” – still common, despite experiential qualification and technical bid evaluation practices on some larger projects – frequently means that we have only Standard Penetration Tests, field vane shear strength tests, some limited index and classification testing, and a couple piezometers assuming competitive pricing doesn’t drive our industry colleagues to avoid these because of environmental regulatory costs related to sealing and decommissioning.
Glacial environments are chock-full of uncertainties due to depositional systems. Uncertainties in the absence of borehole coverage and testing drive conservatism to avoid being sued, leading to increased, yet masked, design and construction costs.
At the other end of the spectrum, environments dominated by hard/dense glacial till soils can promote a level of complacency or optimism that can surprise practitioners, potentially leading to challenges with health and safety, cost overruns associated with delays or changes in construction, increased maintenance costs related to poorly performing structures, and construction claims. So, what’s a ground engineer to do?
Clif has 45 years’ of specialist geotechnical contracting experience, including 7 years with Colcrete-Keller, 6 years with Rodio Milan and 29 years with Bachy Soletanche. His experience includes 12 years of site-based working experience overseas, on projects in Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Honduras, Turkey, Cyprus, Australia, and the USA, and he has also supported many projects through short term technical missions to over 20 countries.
Clif has played a key role in developing grout injection technologies and processes over the last three decades. He is internationally recognised as a leader in both fields, having worked on major UK infrastructure projects such as the Thames Barrier, Jubilee Line extension, Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Crossrail, Lee Tunnel, and currently, Thames Tideway.
In addition he has worked on more than 25 dams world-wide in the roles of technical manager and/or contractual/planning manager.
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