Design Memorandum

TO:                  All Design Section Staff

FROM:            Bijan Khaleghi
DATE:             May 16, 2007
SUBJECT:       Soldier Pile and Lagging Design Requirements

1.      Timber Lagging Design

    Lagging for soldier pile walls, with and without permanent ground anchors, shall be designed as either temporary or permanent, based on the conditions described below.

    The Geotechnical Services Branch will specify when lagging shall be designed for an additional 250 psf surcharge due to temporary construction load (and which shall also be shown in the Plans). The lateral pressure transferred from a moment slab shall be considered in the design of soldier pile walls and lagging.

    The expected life cycle of timber lagging is considered to be less than the service life of the structure, namely 75 years for all structures designed in accordance with LRFD Design Specifications. This limited service life of the lagging shall be considered when timber lagging is specified. Therefore timber lagging shall be used only if less than 75 years of service life is acceptable for the specific project. This could be the case if the wall is due to be modified in the future due to widening, or if a permanent fascia is to be constructed to carry the load at some point in the future. Hem-fir wood species, due to the inadequate durability in wet condition, shall not be used for timber lagging.

    Temporary Timber Lagging

      The temporary lagging is based on a maximum 36 month service life before a permanent fascia is applied over the lagging. The design of temporary lagging shall be the responsibility of the contractor. The Geotechnical Services Branch will specify a soil category (A, B, or C) that is to be referenced in a general note in the wall plan sheets. The design shall be based on the modified FHWA table, which will be included in Section 6-16.3(6) of the Standard Specifications (see BDM Table 8.1.3.C.4.c-1 as printed below), for timber lagging or another material that the contractor proposes. The contractor shall submit the lagging system to the Bridge & Structures Office for approval. The earth pressure diagram shall be included in the contract plans. The engineer shall provide the square foot surface area quantity of lagging as part of the complete set of wall quantities submitted with the wall plans at turn-in to the Bridge Projects Unit. The typical section shown in the contract plans shall show a generic fascia material and specify that the design is the contractor’s responsibility (see BDM Appendix 8.1-A3-2A).

(1)   Soil Type is defined in WAC 296-155 Safety Standards for Construction Work, Part N (Excavation, Trenching, and Shoring).

(2)   For exposed wall heights exceeding the limits in the table above or where minimum rough cut lagging thicknesses is not provided,
        the contractor shall design the lagging following the current version of the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications.
(3)   Table modified from FHWA document "Lateral Support Systems and Underpinning" (Report No. FHWA-RD-75-130).

Table 8.1.3.C.4.c-1

Permanent Timber Lagging

    The Geotechnical Services Branch may require that temporary lagging be designed as a permanent structural element if the soils are classified as “Type C.” Lagging that is required to be in service for over 36 months in an exposed condition, based on construction considerations, financing, etc., shall be designed as a permanent structural element (see BDM Appendix 8.1-A3-2B). Unless a reduction factor is provided by the Geotechnical Services Branch to account for soil arching effects, the lagging shall be designed for the full pressure diagram supplied for the soldier piles. The load shall be a uniform load applied along the effective lagging span (S) in the same manner as defined for temporary lagging. Lagging designed to this type of methodology should follow AASHTO LRFD Section design procedures without soil arching.

    Permanent lagging may be used with precast fascia panels. In this application, permanent is intended to last the design life cycle (75 years) of the wall. Timber lagging does not have this life cycle capacity, but can be used when both of the following conditions exist:

      (1)  The wall will be replaced within a 20 year period or a permanent fascia will be added to contain the lateral loads within that
             time period. And,
      (2)  The lagging is visible for inspections during this life cycle.

2.       Design of Fascia Panels

    Cast-in-place concrete fascia panels shall be designed as a permanent load carrying member in accordance with AASHTO LRFD Section The minimum structural thickness of these panels shall be 9 inches (more is required for walls with permanent ground anchors).

    Precast concrete fascia panels shall be designed to carry 100% of the load that could occur during the life of the wall. When timber lagging (including pressure treated lumber) is designed to be placed behind a precast element, conventional design practice is to assume that lagging will eventually fail and the load will be transferred to the precast panel. If another type of permanent lagging is used behind the precast fascia panel, then the design of the fascia panel will be controlled by internal and external forces other than lateral pressures from the soil (weight, temperature, Seismic, Wind, etc.). The connections for precast panels to soldier piles shall be designed for all applicable loads and the designer should consider rigidity, longevity (to cyclic loading, corrosion, etc.), and load transfer.

3.       Design of Soldier Piles

    The structural design of soldier piles shall be based on the elastic section modulus “S” for the entire length of the pile. The plastic section modulus “Z” may not be used for soldier pile design in any circumstances.

4.       Lateral Defelection

    The anticipated lateral deflection at top of the soldier pile wall shall be shown in the Plans. This alerts the Contractor to the need to accommodate the actual lateral deflection when placing the concrete fascia during construction.


Traditionally, lagging acts as a temporary structural member that transfer loads to the soldier piles so that a fascia can be placed on the front of the wall. "Temporary" is not a condition that the LRFD code addresses very thoroughly, but the timeframe is generally considered to be 36 months of service. Previous design methodology was to use a 50% reduction on the loads applied to the soldier piles, so as to account for soil arching effects. Industry practices have shown that the loads applied to temporary lagging, and soldier pile shoring walls, can not be related to the loads that the soldier piles see.

FHWA, in 1975, produced a document that discusses this issue and provided a table that gives recommended thicknesses for timber lagging based on soil materials and soldier pile spacing. The mechanics of soil arching has shown that depth does not have a significant impact on loads applied to lagging elements, as it does to the soldier piles themselves. Lagging elements tend to be more flexible and deflect under the loads applied, thereby engaging the soil arching effects of the soils to transfer these loads into the soldier piles.

The FHWA table was generated based on decades of experience and by meeting deflection requirements less than 1 inch. In order to use this table and equivalent moments, the contractor shall be required to monitor deflections in the lagging. The post-construction deflections (once material has been compacted behind the walls) shall not exceed S/240, where S is the effective lagging span between soldier piles, defined as edge of flange to edge of flange plus ˝ the bearing area of the lagging on each side (2” minimum bearing area). This information and table will be included in Section 6-16.3(6) of the Standard Specifications.

Temporary lagging will be treated like any other shoring design and left to the responsibility of the contractor to apply whatever material is appropriate and available. Permanent lagging will be the responsibility of the engineer and shall be timber lagging unless the Geotechnical Services Branch specifies another material.

If you have any questions regarding these issues, please contact Stuart Bennion at 705-7168 or Bijan Khaleghi at 705-7181.

cc:   Mohammad Sheikhizadeh, Bridge Construction Engineer - 47354

       F. Posner, Bridge and Structures Office – 47340

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