California Department of Transportation




Offices of Geotechnical Design

The Offices of Geotechnical Design provide their state highway transportation project clients with expert soil and foundation recommendations. Responsibility for transportation projects is divided primarily by geographic region, either North, South, or West. Geotechnical Design staff conduct geological investigations, peform analyses, and provide geotechnical recommendations to the Districts during all phases of a project:

Project Planning

Assess the scope and cost of project alternatives for the Project Study Report, including literature searches, field reconnaissance, geologic mapping, and in some cases subsurface exploration. Prepare geologic hazard commentary and data for use in project environmental documents. Provide preliminary assessment of expected site geology, seismicity (nearest active fault and magnitude, predicted maximum horizontal bedrock acceleration, anticipated depth to bedrock, liquefaction potential) and scour potential. Planning recommendations are typically conveyed in the District Preliminary Geotechnical Report to the Districts and the Structure Preliminary Geotechnical Report to Structure Design.

Project Design

Conduct geotechnical explorations and analyses to provide the District and Structures design engineers with recommendations for bridges and other transportation structures, embankments, cut slopes, groundwater control, seismic stability, earth retaining structures, sign structures, sound walls, landslide repair, and culvert foundations, etc.. Work with the project engineers to assure the project design accommodates the geotechnical constraints, and accurately reflects the recommendations provided in the Foundation and/or Geotechnical Design Report.


Provide support to the Structure Representative and Resident Engineer during construction of the geotechnical portion of the project. Support Caltrans Construction personnel in executing change orders and resolving claims. Review significant features exposed during construction to compare actual conditions to those anticipated and to make corrective recommendations as necessary.


Evaluate and provide support for chronic and/or emergency geologic or geotechnical problems, such as landslides. Assist in development of plans, specifications and estimates for projects to correct such conditions.


Provide expert witness testimony and support to the department for geotechnical related legal cases.