Most foundation solutions for transportation structures rely on deep foundations, often on pile foundations configured in a way most suitable to the problem at hand. Design of pile foundation solutions can best be pursued by clearly defining limit states and then configuring the piles in such a way as to prevent the attainment of these limit states. The present report develops methods for load and resistance factor design (LRFD) of piles, both nondisplacement and displacement piles, in sand and clay. With the exception of the method for design of displacement piles in sand, all the methods are based on rigorous theoretical mechanics solutions of the pile loading problem. In all cases, the uncertainty of the variables appearing in the problem and of the relationships linking these variables to the resistance calculated using these relationships are carefully assessed. Monte Carlo simulations using these relationships and the associated variabilities allow simulation of resistance minus load distributions and therefore probability of failure. The mean (or nominal) values of the variables can be adjusted so that the probability of failure can be made to match a target probability of failure. Since an infinite number of combinations of these means can be made to lead to the same target probability of failure, we have developed a way to determine the most likely ultimate limit state for a given probability of failure. Once the most likely ultimate limit state is determined, the values of loads and resistances for this limit state can be used, together with the values of the mean (or nominal) loads and resistances to calculate load and resistance factors. The last step in the process involves adjusting the resistance factors so that they are consistent with the load factors specified by AASHTO. Recommended resistance factors are then given together with the design methods for which they were developed.

Report Number



Piles; piling; pile resistance; pile design; load and resistance factor design; LRFD, SPR-3108

SPR Number


Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, Indiana

Date of this Version


3108_TechnicalSummary.pdf (193 kB)
Technical Summary