Terrace deposits are often encountered in portal areas and tunnels with low overburden. They are challenging to excavate considering their great mechanical and spatial heterogeneity and a very high stiffness contrast within the ground. Terrace deposits are difficult to characterize, considering that samples for laboratory testing are almost unfeasible to obtain, and laboratory tests may not be representative due to scale effects. This paper presents the approach taken for their characterization during the design stage and their posterior validation performed during construction. Lessons learned from several tunnels excavated on terrace deposits on the Bogota-Villavicencio road (central-east Colombia), suggest that based on numerical simulations, laboratory testing and tunnel system behaviour monitoring, an observational approach allows engineers to optimize the excavation and support methods for the encountered ground conditions, resulting in a more economic and safe construction.
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