When Congress passed the first Federal Road Act in 1916, roadway construction surged. One facet of this energized road-building campaign was the partial resculpting of our landscape, from which emerged more economical ways to build retaining wall structures using concrete, timber, masonry, and steel. Early retaining walls generally fell into three broad categories: gravity, cantilever, and buttress (or counterfort) walls. In the mid-1960s, design philosophies radically transformed with the innovative development of earth-composite systems, now commonly called mechanically stabilized earth (MSE). The subsequent evolution of geosynthetic technologies during the 1980s further expanded the realm of reinforced soils for retaining wall applications. Polymer geogrids and geotextiles, matched with specialized concrete blocks, entered the market as alternatives to the reinforced earth system. Interlocking stackable concrete modules (segmental blocks) evolved as similar wall systems that became known as segmental retaining walls (SRWs). SRWs are not without some noteworthy competition, however. Other options include vinyl and steel sheeting, precast concrete and stone-filled wire basket gabions, welded-wire reinforced soil systems, and steel bin-type retaining walls. Furthermore, some gravity-type walls--large precast concrete bin walls and basket-type gabions, which are usually separated categorically from MSE systems--have recently adapted MSE technology for increased versatility. One other variation on MSE technology is one that provides most of the conventional retaining walls' benefits without having a traditional wall face; it is known as welded wire wall.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Civil Engineering News, Incorporated

    1255 Roberts Boulevard, Suite 230
    Kennesaw, GA  United States  30144
  • Authors:
    • Beck, D E
  • Publication Date: 2000-2


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: p. 44-47
  • Serial:
    • Civil Engineering News
    • Volume: 12
    • Issue Number: 1
    • Publisher: Civil Engineering News, Incorporated
    • ISSN: 1051-9629

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00788859
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 7 2000 12:00AM