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Notes on Soil Stabilization and Highway Construction

Jimmy Rustling
Written by Jimmy Rustling

Soil stabilization is one of the important processes to follow before construction work begins. Soil stabilization is simply the act of treating the soil with chemicals to improve its physical properties and compactness. More importantly, soil stabilization is essential for all road constructions. This is to prepare the soil for the construction work and avoid all issues that may arise after the job is done. Soil stabilization is in two folds and can only be carried out after a thorough investigation is done to determine the type of soil.

This article will give an expository explanation of the effects of soil stabilization on road construction.

What is Soil Stabilization?

Soils are of different types and forms, while some are good for planting, others are used for different purposes. Soil is loose material on the earth’s surface given by nature for planting. Soil stabilization is done most especially on clayey soil because it is prone to retain water more and this leads to expansion of the soil. This particular problem causes a lot of havoc on construction works especially foundation laying and road construction. Hence, the need for soil stabilization.

Soil stabilization is a treatment given to the soil to reduce or improve some particular properties and make it fitter for the intended use. During the process of soil stabilization, chemicals, cement, lime, etc are added to work on the soil. Soil with more clay has to pass through stabilization because it tends to retain moisture and swell up thereafter, hence, posing a big problem for the structures to be laid.

The common treatment given to clay soil is lime and cement stabilization. These two agents can reduce the moisture content in the soil and make it more compact for use.

Effect of Soil Stabilization on Highway Construction


Soil stabilization gives the soil the needed strength to withstand tough and harsh climatic conditions. During the process, the soil is mixed with chemicals to stabilize the properties and give the needed strength to sustain through all harsh conditions and heavyweight vehicles it is exposed to.

Reduced Cost

Treated soil helps reduce the cost that comes with construction because it gives the soil a strong layer to accommodate the next set. Additionally, it acts as the foundational layer to mount others on which reduces the cost of materials to be used.


Soil stabilization for highway construction saves time and makes the process completed faster than the set time. It also contributes to the dryness of the ground during construction to allow other processes to continue.

Winter Working

Soil stabilization prepares the soil for winter working. During the winter season, the soil is exposed to a large amount of water and moisture that may affect the outcome of the construction. However, after the soil has been treated either with lime or cement (clay), the moisture content is reduced almost instantly and it is made suitable for the construction.

Installation of Highway Noise Barrier

Soil stabilization allows for easy installation of a highway noise barrier. Highway noise barriers are installed to prevent the heavy transfer of sound on the highway. They are designed to absorb the sound to avoid the impact of the noise disturbing the neighborhood. So, soil stabilization positively contributes to the installation of highway noise barriers and the construction of sound walls on the highway.

Reduces Waste

The process of soil stabilization aids the reduction and transportation of waste from a site to the other. During the stabilization process, the utilization of all the soil dug out is possible, hence, it erases the idea of production of waste on the site.

Ease of Use

The process of soil stabilization is easy to use. The application of chemicals into the soil is very easy and can be carried out without stress.


With the mass awareness about the need for eco-friendly materials and things, the process of soil stabilization can be carried out without harming the environment with bad substances. It is an all-natural process.

Methods of Soil Stabilization

There are different methods of soil stabilization. The method chosen by a constructor depends on the soil type and the materials to be used. Some of the methods of soil stabilization are discussed below:


The mixing method during soil stabilization is the most common method used by constructors. During the mixing method, the chemicals to be used are combined with the soil type. One of the many factors to be considered is the type of soil because different materials work for each type of soil. For each process through the mixing method, the soil is dug to reach a particular depth.


The grouting method is a more expensive stabilization method to treat the soil. There are different grouting methods to be used. Examples include clay grouting, chemical grouting, bituminous grouting, and polymer grouting, etc. grouting method is suitable for all soil types’ asides from clay soils. The chemical is inserted into the soil to mix well with the soil.

Electrical stabilization

Electrical stabilization is one of the most expensive methods used for soil stabilization. The process starts by inserting electrodes into the soil to drain out excess moisture from the soil. As the moisture is drained out, the soil increases in compactness and strength for road constructions.

Types of Soil Stabilization for Highway Construction

There are different types of soil stabilization. With the work of the early constructors, the traditional method of soil stabilization was devised. However, with the introduction of technological methods, the modification of the process got advanced. The types of soil stabilization are explained below:

Mechanical Method

The mechanical method of soil stabilization is the oldest in history. This involves the process of adding other substances into the soil such as clay or silt material to increase the coarseness and compactness of the soil.  Other particles that could be added are gravel, sand, etc. certain factors can affect the stability of soil with the mechanical method.

One of the most important factors is the amount of soil and materials combined. When the level is higher or lower than the actual amount, the soil may develop other problems after the construction is done.

Chemical Stabilization

Chemical stabilization is another common type of soil stabilization. Using this method, chemicals are added to the soil to improve its texture. Some used cement, fly ash, kiln dust, etc.

Polymer Stabilization

Polymerization is one of the newest methods used for soil stabilization. Many constructions works now rely on polymerization due to its ease of use and cost reduction. During the process, polymers such as acrylamides, vinyl, etc are melted to form a liquid material that is added to the soil to improve its hardness and strength.

Several factors determine the compatibility of the soil with a polymer.  First, the soil must be suitable for exposure to low temperatures and increased humidity. Also, the polymer must be able to combine well with the soil when added to water.

Let’s Wrap it Up

Soil stabilization is very effective and important when it comes to highway construction because it helps avoid the various problems that may arise due to the texture of the soil after the construction is completed. The various types of soil stabilization are suitable for use based on the type of soil to be used. Most of the clay-like soil is exposed to soil stabilization because it helps reduce the moisture content of the soil. Soil stabilization generally is an easy process and a go-to for eco-friendly means of treating the soil.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.