For more information on the availability of various styles of segmented retaining walls and other hardscape products, click here to visit a member in your area.

Concrete Retaining Walls Help Cut Costs

As many state transportation departments find themselves in the middle of strict financial constraints and state legislatures work toward balanced budgets, it is important to taxpayers that states and federal transportation agencies use the best and most economical systems to construct the nation's roadways.  

According to R. Lance Carter, engineer at the National Concrete Masonry Association, one solution to help reduce costs is to use segmental retaining wall technology that saves money and construction time and increases roadway longevity.

Segmental retaining walls are  structures that use concrete block and reinforced soil. They provide significant savings on highway transportation projects, which means direct savings to the taxpayer, Carter said.

In the 1980s, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority used segmental retaining walls on two sections of I-294. Carter reports that "nearly 1 million dollars was saved on the entire project because the allowance for segmental retaining walls introduced a competitive alternative to other wall systems."

      In 1995 and 1996, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, the country's oldest subway system since 1897, utilized segmental retaining walls on two sections of rail. Segmental retaining walls were used on the Plymouth and Middleboro railway commuter lines that had not carried passengers since the 1930s.

Within the state transportation departments, segmental retaining walls are providing significant cost savings over other wall systems, especially in the states of Colorado and Texas.

The acceptance of this technology is documented by the Federal Highway Administration, which reports that nearly 2 million square feet of segmental retaining wall are constructed yearly in transportation related projects.

The Federal Highway Administration further indicates that these structures offer relative savings of 20 percent to 50 percent over conventional wall structures and can be used to support bridges.

Retaining Walls Add Visual Appeal To Landscaping

Across the country, homeowners planning to landscape their yards are turning to segmental retaining walls as their product of choice.

Why? There are several reasons. First, segmental retaining walls have a strong reputation for design flexibility and visual appeal. Homeowners can choose from a wide variety of product sizes and placement options.

Concrete segmental retaining walls also are environmentally friendly and durable. Concrete segmental retaining wall units are made of natural materials and produced in a wide variety of aesthetics. Units may have a split-face, rugged, natural appearance or a tumbled, rounded, old-world surface appearance.

In addition, quality home-improvement products - like segmental retaining walls - help create a beautifully landscaped yard. The first impression of a home is created by its exterior attributes and that image creates a lasting impression. An aesthetically pleasing yard helps to increase your property value.

Finally, segmental retaining walls provide natural and enhanced beauty to your yard without posing a health hazard to your family. Another popular landscaping material, chromated copper arsenate (CCA) treated wood, will no longer be used after December 2003, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. CCA-treated wood, which contains arsenic, a known human carcinogen, is being phased out of residential applications.

According to experts at the National Concrete Masonry Association, segmental retaining walls have always offered the best value per dollar when considering landscape product alternatives. The durability of concrete products provides added security not available with the timber products of the past. Segmental retaining wall units also are resistant to erosion and infestation by rodents or insects

Fy-to-follow diagrams and charts for do-it-yourself homeowners and landscape contractors

© 2018 by New York State Concrete Masonry Association

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