Retaining walls

January 2008 » PROGRESSIVE ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
A reveiw of Retaining wall products
CE News Staff
Whether trying to find more buildable land on a sloping site, to stabilize a slope, or to squeeze a wider road within a narrow, below-grade right-of-way, retaining walls provide many options to enhance project design, aesthetics, and costs. In response to a request from CE News, companies provided the following information about their latest products.

Blue Marlin Marine Solutions’ JET Filter is a weep hole wick filter system designed to relieve hydrostatic pressures on retaining walls. The JET Filter comprises plastic, flush-mount units that can be permanently installed in seawalls and bulkheads. According to the company, its removable clip design allows changing and cleaning the inside filter, if needed. The JET Filter is designed for both new and existing seawalls, retaining walls, and bulkhead walls. The filter fabric (Mirafi Filterweave 300) resists clogging while maintaining flow in dynamic conditions.
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Carthage Mills developed GX Geogrids to provide efficient, long-term design strengths for segmental retaining walls (SRWs). According to the company, weaving techniques and coatings play significant roles in achieving optimal connection values with a variety of SRW blocks. GX Geogrids combine exceptional long-term creep rupture performance, enhanced soil interaction properties, and rugged resistance to installation damage to provide higher allowable design strengths that minimize the number of geogrid layers required in the design. Standard roll size is 6 feet by 300 feet.
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CONTECH Earth Stabilization Solutions Inc. says its ReCon Series 50 retaining walls are designed and manufactured to meet the demands of the most difficult project sites. The wet-cast, air-entrained concrete units have a unit mass of nearly 600 pounds per square foot of wall face and can achieve gravity wall heights greater than traditional dry-cast SRW products. A tongue-and groove locking system automatically builds a 3.58-degree batter into the wall. ReCon Series 50 wall units are available in three natural stone textures.
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EarthTec’s EarthTrac HA, a mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) wall system, received approval from the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) for MSE walls as high as 50 feet, which is the highest on the approved list. EarthTrac HA was the first product to gain SHA approval for use under both the Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) specifications and the Standard (Allowable Stress) Bridge Design specifications. EarthTrac HA uses galvanized, ribbed-steel soil reinforcements bolted to precast concrete facing panels.
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Five Star Stone’s new patented, Stone Grid Wall System allows users to attach natural stone to a soil reinforcement system, putting a natural face on MSE retaining walls. According to the company, walls using the Stone Grid Wall System are backfilled the same as a typical soil reinforcement or MSE wall systems.
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Hilfiker Retaining Walls produces a full line of retaining wall systems, including welded-wire walls; ArtWeld gabions; Trinity walls; gabion-faced MSE walls, which combine ArtWeld gabions at the face of the structure with welded-wire soil reinforcement mats spaced vertically at 3-foot intervals; welded-wire steepened slope; reinforced soil embankment; Eureka reinforced soil; and Spiralnail soil reinforcement. Hilfiker’s products have been used in projects ranging from state and federal department of transportation applications to major international mining sites.
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Keystone Retaining Wall Systems, Inc.’s 133Elite segmental retaining wall features an 8-inch by 24-inch (1.33-square-foot) face that the company says creates a larger-scale look, especially suitable for large walls, while reducing the number units required. The units are available in several textures and colors. A patented Keystone pin system uses high-strength, pulltruded fiberglass pins to provide shear resistance, alignment, and geogrid connection. The open design of the tail section of each segmental unit reduces the weight, which makes handling and installation easier.
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LOCK+LOAD is a modular, cantilever SRW system with a quarried stone face. Units are made of high-strength reinforced concrete. According to the company, individual anchoring provides the strength to accept full backfill compaction, as well as fences, adjacent to the wall face. LOCK+LOAD says its system is as flexible as wire face walls, as economic as modular blocks, and as strong and durable as panel walls.
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The Neel Company offers high-strength, precast reinforced concrete structural retaining walls and engineering support for municipal, highway, and railroad design requirements. The T-WALL Retaining Wall System is an all-concrete system with no separate soil reinforcements to attach. The units consist of a precast face with a perpendicular stem. The stem length varies depending on the height and loads on the wall. T-WALL is designed in accordance with AASHTO and AREMA design codes and is easily installed and backfilled with a select granular fill. It is available with a variety of architectural finishes.
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Northstar Vinyl Products LLC and Tensar International recently unveiled the AquaTerra Retaining Wall System, which combines sheet piling with geogrid materials for the first time. According to the companies, in most cases, the sheet piles only need to be placed in a 2-foot-deep trench. When piping and global stability issues are present, the sheet pile can be driven to a specified depth and then attached to the reinforcement system. With AquaTerra, walls once reserved for steel, composite, or heavy-gauge vinyl sheet piling can now be built with shorter sections of lightweight vinyl sheet piling. In addition, AquaTerra has no metal components. The AquaTerra system also is used for flood control and levee structures. The Modular Levee System comprises two parallel sheet pile walls supported by layers of geogrid in the core. The geogrid mitigates the soil loading on the sheet piling and in many cases will allow the use of native soil in the core.
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According to Redi-Rock International, its big-block wall products capture the "essence of natural rock," and many people mistake it for quarried stone. Redi-Rock’s wall systems use blocks weighing as much as 2,400 pounds. The massive scale allows walls to be built much higher than other wall systems without using geogrids or tie-backs. Also, tall, reinforced walls can be designed with the company’s geo-connector.
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The Reinforced Earth Company system, invented more than 30 years ago, consists of compacted granular soil and galvanized steel soil reinforcements. According to the company, the linear strips of galvanized steel have high tensile strength and have provided excellent performance in more than 27,000 structures. Reinforced Earth is used in both mountainous and level terrain for a variety of applications, including retaining walls, bridge abutments, slide buttresses, structures supporting railways, seawalls, dams, bulk storage facilities, and military blast barricades. Precast concrete face panels are available in a variety of architectural finishes.
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RisiStone’s new SonomaStone retaining wall system is a machine-placed SRW system that uses a large, machine-placed block with the look of multiple (random) split faces. According to the company, this provides the stability and installation efficiency of a machine-placed unit, while maintaining a subtle, less industrial aesthetic. The multi-faced look of the standard units allows tapered half units to be seamlessly incorporated into the wall, giving designers the ability to achieve tight curves and flowing alignments. The SonomaStone System can be designed as a gravity wall, multiple-depth gravity wall, and geogrid reinforced wall, making the system applicable for walls from 2 feet to 40 feet and beyond. A new clamp system allows contractors to place as many as three units at a time (7.2 square feet).
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SSL’s line of MSE Plus Retaining Wall Systems is designed to satisfy a broad range of geotechnical, architectural, and aesthetic requirements for MSE projects. These systems include the company’s standard precast-faced MSE walls, wire-faced walls, custom-sculpted shotcrete-faced walls (shown here), and SSL’s new Plantable Green Wall system. SSL offers comprehensive services for design and detailing, material supply, and project management, as well as turnkey construction services when needed.
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Stone Strong Systems’ precast modular retaining wall blocks were recently used for the 95-acre, Trinity Woods mixed-use development in Independence, Mo. A total of four walls were constructed: 10,000 square feet was used to create a 15-foot-tall buffer wall between a shear face natural limestone and a future parking and roadway expansion; another 10,000 square feet created a 15-foot-deep stormwater detention basin and a secondary tier wall that separates an existing roadway and the basin.
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T&B Structural Systems LLC offers segmental concrete panel walls and both temporary and permanent welded wire walls. The segmental concrete panel systems consist of precast concrete panels and steel soil reinforcement. The panel system is designed with unobstructed vertical joints, which, according to the company, allow for greater differential settlement of the MSE mass compared with systems that incorporate an interlocking joint. Welded wire walls can be used as temporary structures or as permanent retaining structures. This system consists of a wire-faced panel, welded wire mesh soil reinforcing, and compacted soil. The wire wall face can be left exposed, or the wire-facing panel can be designed and constructed with attachments that allow for placement of a veneer. Typical veneers consist of stone, masonry, shotcrete, and concrete panels.
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Truline, a business unit of Formtech Enterprises, announces the availability of its Sheet Piling Solution for seawalls and other types of retaining walls. According to the company, the system minimizes the need for heavy installation equipment, reduces yard tear up, and eliminates the lengthy curing time associated with concrete panels. A U-channel shape allows pouring of concrete directly into place, creating a strong concrete wall with all the benefits and protection of vinyl. The dual-interlocking design maintains the strength and integrity of the joints through the corners and radiuses. Truline says its walls are virtually maintenance free and will not crack, rust, or corrode. UV stabilizers discourage discoloration and fading caused by sun exposure in marine environments.
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VERSA-LOK’s solid, top-pinning SRW system is available in standard split-face and weathered textures, and readily accommodates soil reinforcement to build walls to 40 feet or taller. The VERSA-LOK family of retaining wall units includes Standard (6 inches high, 16 inches wide, and 12 inches deep); Accent (4 inches high, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches deep); and Cobble (6 inches high, 8 inches wide, and 12 inches deep). VERSA-LOK’s solid units are easy to modify on-site, and there are no hollow units to fill. VERSA-LOK Mosaic is a SRW system that allows construction of random-pattern tall walls of unlimited height. Each Mosaic wall panel comprises three VERSA-LOK units in a random, four-unit pattern that measures 10 inches high and 24 inches wide. Soil reinforcement can be installed between each course of panels.
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