CTRE is an Iowa State University center, administered by the Institute for Transportation.

Address: 2711 S. Loop Drive, Suite 4700, Ames, IA 50010-8664

Phone: 515-294-8103
FAX: 515-294-0467

Website: www.ctre.iastate.edu/

Iowa State University--Becoming the Best

Pilot Construction Project for Granular Shoulder Stabilization


Principal investigators:

Co-principal investigators:

Student researcher:

Project status

In progress

Start date: 06/07/11
End date: 09/30/13



About the research


Granular shoulders need to be maintained on a regular basis because edge ruts and potholes develop, posing a safety hazard to motorists. The successful mitigation of edge-rut issues for granular shoulders would increase safety and reduce the number of procedures currently required to maintain granular shoulders in Iowa. In addition, better performance of granular shoulders reduces the urgency to pave granular shoulders. Delaying or permanently avoiding paving shoulders where possible allows more flexibility in making investments in the road network.

To stabilize shoulders and reduce the number of maintenance cycles necessary per season, one possible stabilizing agent—acidulated soybean oil soapstock—was investigated in this research. A pilot testing project was conducted for selected problematic shoulders in northern and northeastern Iowa. Soapstock was applied on granular shoulders and monitored during application and pre- and post-application. Application techniques were documented and the percentage of application success was calculated for each treated shoulder section.

As a result of this research, it was concluded that soybean oil soapstock can be an effective stabilizer for granular shoulders under certain conditions. The researchers also developed draft specifications that could possibly be used to engage a contractor to perform the work using a maintenance-type construction contract. The documented application techniques from this project could be used as guidance for those who want to apply soapstock for stabilizing granular shoulders but might not be familiar with this technique.