Beneficial Use of Dredged Materials in Great Lakes Commercial Ports for Transportation Projects

Quarterly Reports Other Documents Final Report
December 2012
March 2013
Final Report

Primary Investigator

William Likos
Visiting Associate Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Geological Engineering Program
1415 Engineering Dr
Madison, WI 53706


Dredged material management options for Great Lakes commercial ports are diminishing. Many existing disposal facilities serving these ports are at or near capacity and high costs plus limited new site availability make prospects for new or expanded capacity increasingly unlikely. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at least six of the Great Lakes largest cargo-handling ports are in “critical” status, meaning that dredged material management issues could “severely restrict channel availability within 5 years.” Another six Great Lakes ports have “pressing” needs that could restrict channel availability in ten years.  Restrictions on dredging have severe implications for freight movement in the North American midcontinent.  Given the declining placement capacity, use or recycling of “non-toxic” dredged materials for beneficial use emerges as the most practical approach to sustainable dredged material management in the region.  Considering the quantity of dredged materials (over 3 million cubic yards annually), beneficial use in transportation systems construction makes sense since it is one of the most material-intensive construction sectors. As a first step, identification of dredged material sources, suitable use applications in the transportation sector, and required material characteristics for suitability is needed.  This information can be used to develop a map of dredged materials sources relative to various transportation applications. This information can also be directly piggy-backed onto previous source identification/mapping efforts (e.g., Great Lakes Commission and USACE efforts) to refine that information specifically for beneficial use of dredged materials in the transportation sector. Such information will be an important resource to beneficial use interests such as material suppliers, transportation agencies, and others.


The objective of this project is to produce a set of guidelines that explicitly links together: 1) applications for the use of dredged materials as construction materials in transportation-related projects (e.g., highways, embankments), 2) required geotechnical properties of materials for specific transportation-related projects, 3) geotechnical laboratory and field test methods required to determine these properties, 4) specifications (values) of these properties required for specific transportation-related projects, and 5) locations within the Great Lakes from which dredged materials having properties meeting these specifications may be sourced. The project is intended to build upon previous identification/mapping projects for beneficial use of dredged materials from the Great Lakes region (e.g., Great Lakes Commission and USACE efforts), but within the specific context of using dredged materials in the transportation sector.


  1. Identify Applications in Transportation Sector
  2. Identify Relevant Material Characteristics, Test Methods and Specifications for Applications in Transportation Sector
  3. Identify Dredged Material Sources Relative to Transportation Applications
  4. Final Report

Project Information

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Dates: November 1, 2012 – October 31, 2013
  • Budget: $101,140 ($50,070 in matching funds)
  • Student Involvement: One graduate student
  • Modal Orientation: Maritime
  • Project ID: CFIRE 07-06
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