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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation


The Geotechnical and Hydraulics Research and Technology (R&T) Program provides a coordinated and cohesive approach to research, development, and technology activities to improve the geotechnical and hydraulic performance (safety, efficiency, durability, resiliency, and cost-effectiveness) of the highway and transportation system.

The composition and focus of the Geotechnical and Hydraulics R&T Program reflects how our Nation’s transportation system spans and includes widespread and diverse geological, riverine, and coastal environments and features. The Geotechnical and Hydraulics R&T Program aligns with needs and requirements associated with public safety, statutory, and regulatory requirements, and other elements of transportation.

The program is organized under several functional areas, under the geotechnical and hydraulic engineering disciplines.  Geotechnical functional areas include Earth and Rock Works; Earth Retaining Structures; Geohazards; Ground Improvement; Structural Foundations; Subsurface Investigation. Hydraulic functional areas include Hydrology (including floodplains), Highway Drainage, Bridges and Culverts; Scour; and Coastal Engineering.  Additionally, the Geotechnical and Hydraulics R&T Program provides flexibility and interchangeability that recognizes conditions and circumstances might incorporate and employ multiple functional areas. This multifaceted program yields an effective, crosscutting approach to addressing the hydraulic and geotechnical challenges of highway infrastructure.

Examples of Program activities include research of slope stability and geotechnical properties to protect and mitigate effects of landslides (Geohazards); investigation of hydroplaning to reduce risk to the public while optimizing drainage approaches (Drainage); or reduction of bridge foundation sizes and costs through development of safe yet effective bridge scour estimates (Geohazards/Scour).

Program activities and outcomes include research, development, outreach, deployment, guidance efforts, and technical products. To accomplish these outcomes, the program gains valuable insights and information through partnerships and collaborations with other government entities, industry organizations, associations, academic institutions, and other stakeholders in the transportation community.