Road Services scientists test soil below our roads

Road Services engineer collecting soil samples from under a road near Preston.

Road Services engineer collecting soil samples from under a road near Preston in December 2015.

The King County Road Services Division is made up of several teams that work hard every day to keep our communities connected. They maintain nearly 1,500 miles of roadways and 181 bridges in unincorporated King County.

In future posts, we’ll take a close-up look at our teams and show your their amazing work. Today we’re starting with the Materials Lab in Renton. The lab has eight employees who are true scientists and investigators! Their jobs entail geotechnical engineering and materials testing. They use special drilling equipment and techniques to gather soil samples that they then take them back to their on-site laboratory where they conduct scientific testing. The results are used in our pavement and bridge projects. Materials Lab engineers also rapidly respond to emergencies such as landslides by conducting drilling to ensure the content and stability of the soil are good.

The photo to the left shows one of our geotechnical engineers collecting soil samples pulled from under a road near Preston. The samples will be taken back to the Materials Lab where tests will determine their content. Do they contain sand? Clay? Sediment? Rocks? Understanding these components help the scientists determine the stability of the soil. Coming up in 2016, we’ll show you a video of the actual soil samples being collected more than 20 feet below the ground! We’ll also take you into the Materials Lab to show you the unique equipment that the scientists use to test the samples and we’ll explain why their work is so important to King County.

Do you want to learn more about the Materials Lab? Visit their webpage.

Coming up in future blog posts, we’ll highlight more Road Services teams and show you how they’re keeping communities connected. To learn more about Road Services projects, programs and services, visit our website and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!