AbstractThis case study focuses on an International Circuit project in China where unmanned automobiles are to be tested in the future. The subgrade undergoes extensive settlement because of the widely distributed lacustrine deposits with high void ratio and compressibility. Prestressed high-strength concrete (PHC) pile-supported earth platforms are used for ground improvement in this area, but their effectiveness has not yet been confirmed. Associated with this adoption, the negative skin friction (NSF) of the piles and the related neutral plane (NP) position is of importance. Although NSF has been examined in detail, the NP position has not, especially with regard to its time dependence. This paper reports the settlement of the pile-supported soft soil subgrade as obtained from long-term observations of full-scale tests. The NP position is determined according to the layered settlement of the soil and the pile settlement, both of which are obtained from long-term field observations. The results reveal that the NP position has a clear time dependence that develops in stages. The NP is initially elevated with time, and then it gradually approaches a constant value. The existing models fail to predict this time dependence of the NP position in the studied sites. A exponential model is used, the fitting parameters of which have practical implications. The adopted model works well with the studied sites, especially in terms of reflecting the time dependence of the NP position and distinguishing the different stages of its development. This paper enhances the understanding of the NP and provides a reference data set for related engineering practices.