PermaTrak Boardwalk Construction on Concrete Piers or Piles

PermaTrak on Concrete Pier or Concrete Pile Foundation

You may be familiar with the terms concrete pier, concrete caisson or concrete pile. While these terms are often used interchangeably, technically, a concrete caisson is one type of a concrete pier; these are typically formed in place. Precast concrete piles are typically driven or vibrated in to place. 

Cast-in-place concrete piers and concrete piles offer durability and longevity for boardwalk construction over lakes or streams, through wetlands or floodplains. If the geotechnical report calls for a deep concrete pier, these can be constructed as an augered hole or drilled shafts with a casing used to pour the cast-in-place deep footing.

Below are examples of concrete footings covered in this section (see slideshow at bottom of page for pictures):

  • Precast driven pile - Van Wezel Piers project
  • Concrete caisson, also called drilled shaft – Windsong Ranch project
  • Shallow footing
  • Shallow footing with vertical pedestal pier
  • Cast-in-place pier (Sonotube formed ) - Glastonbury Multi Use Trail project

Whether the project requires a concrete pier, caisson, or precast pile, to install a PermaTrak boardwalk on top of these types of foundations requires the contractor to secure PermaTrak's precast concrete cap to the top of the pier or pile, which then sets the template for the rest of the PermaTrak concrete boardwalk structure. Put simply, both concrete piers and concrete piles use the same cap connection, the transition point from the foundations to the PermaTrak concrete boardwalk system.


1. The PermaTrak system is manufactured by local precasters throughout the country. We own and maintain these steel production forms to ensure consistent quality control.


2. The boardwalk's beginning and ending stations typically utilize our precast abutment piece, on an unreinforced concrete leveling pad. Lift inserts allow for easy handling.


3. Sonotube casings can serve as temporary forms as cast-in-place reinforced concrete piers are constructed. Concrete piles may also be precast, shipped to the site, and driven into place. 


4. These cast-in-place concrete caissons provide a durable, long-term foundation system for a low-lying PermaTrak boardwalk. 


5. Caps are secured to concrete piers, setting the template for the rest of the boardwalk. Dimples on the top of the caps accept the spherical polyurethane pins (orange in picture).


6. Reinforced concrete piers shown here are installed with Sonotubes for ease of alignment and to ensure correct elevation. Cap components are placed on top of concrete pier.


7. Precast concrete beams span from cap to cap. Spherical mushroom-shaped pins fit into formed slots in the bottom of the beams (hidden in picture).


8. A 1/8'' rubber bearing pad strip is laid on the beams to eliminate any potential uneven bearing.

concrete boardwalk curved beams

9. Curved alignments are easily accomodated by adjusting the beam lengths of the inside and outside runs.

permatrak boardwalk installation

10. Precast treads are easily maneuvered into place with small construction equipment. Spud bars or crow bars used from underneath the boardwalk allow installers to adjust the treads' final position on the precast beams without damaging the finished walking surface.

concrete boardwalk tread install

11. Tread installation continues while consistent 1/8'' joint spacing and boardwalk alignment is checked for accuracy. 

curved boardwalk treads installation

12. Curved alignments are formed by use of tapered boardwalk tread components. See our Engineering Layouts page for more information on horizontal alignment and minimum radii. 


13. Precast concrete curbs (supplied by PermaTrak) are also popular choices as an add-on feature. Connecting hardware is hidden from view and curbs attach without any field drilling.

Boardwalk Construction galvanized bracket permatrak install page.jpg

14. PermaTrak's steel brackets are manufactured with a  galvanized steel finish. A 4'' x 4'' timber post fits into the bracket to allow for a variety of timber railing designs. Bolts connect to a bottom plate on the underside of the walking surface. 


15. Railing options with the PermaTrak boardwalk system span a wide range. This timber railing has a steel grab rail to meet ADA requirements. See Railings for pricing and design information. 


16. Aluminum railings can also be supplied as a cost-efficient boardwalk railing. See "What Types of Railings Does PermaTrak Offer?" for more information. 


17. A stainless steel railing with cable strands offers a transparent look, but is one of the more expensive options to complete a boardwalk project.

  • van wezel permatrak concrete pile.jpg
    Precast concrete driven pile with PermaTrak cap, beams, treads
  • concrete_caisson_windson_ranch_boardwalk.jpg
    Concrete caisson, also called drilled shafts with PermaTrak cap and beams
  • Glastonbury_Multi_Use_Path_Foundations_and_Beams.jpg
    Cast-in-place pier (Sonotube formed)