Infrastructure retaining walls are an essential component of many construction projects, providing stability, safety, and structural support for roads, bridges, railways, and other critical infrastructure. These walls are designed to hold back soil and prevent erosion, allowing for the construction of infrastructure projects in areas with challenging terrain. In addition to providing stability and support, infrastructure retaining walls are also designed with specific safety features that help ensure the safety of workers and the public.

Infrastructure Retaining Walls

Preventing Landslides and Rockfalls

One of the primary safety features of infrastructure retaining walls is their ability to prevent landslides and rockfalls. In areas with steep slopes or unstable soil, retaining walls are used to prevent soil and rock from sliding down the slope and causing damage or injury. The retaining wall is designed to hold the soil in place, preventing any movement that could cause a landslide or rockfall. This feature is especially critical for infrastructure projects in mountainous regions, where the terrain can be unstable and prone to landslides.

Managing Water Flow

Another safety feature of infrastructure retaining walls is their ability to manage water flow. Retaining walls can be designed to direct the flow of water away from the infrastructure, preventing any water buildup that could cause erosion, damage, or flooding.

Retaining walls can manage water flow in different ways depending on their design and purpose. Here are some of the ways retaining walls can manage water flow:

  1. Drainage pipes: Retaining walls can have drainage pipes installed behind them to collect and divert water away from the wall. These pipes are typically perforated to allow water to enter and then channeled through the pipes and discharged at a safe location.

  2. Weep holes: Weep holes are small openings or gaps located at the bottom of the retaining wall that allow water to drain out. These holes are typically placed at regular intervals along the wall to prevent water from accumulating behind the wall and causing hydrostatic pressure, which can lead to wall failure.

  3. French drains: French drains are a type of drainage system that can be installed behind a retaining wall. They consist of a trench filled with gravel or stone and a perforated pipe that collects and directs water away from the wall.

  4. Impermeable materials: Retaining walls can be built using impermeable materials such as concrete or masonry to prevent water from infiltrating the soil behind the wall. This method is especially useful in areas with high water tables or where there is a risk of water seeping into the soil and destabilizing the wall.

  5. Terracing: Retaining walls can be designed with terraces or steps to slow down water flow and prevent erosion. These terraces help to break up the flow of water, reducing its velocity and allowing it to soak into the soil slowly.

Overall, the management of water flow in retaining walls is crucial to their stability and effectiveness. Proper design, construction, and maintenance are necessary to ensure that water is managed effectively and does not compromise the retaining wall’s integrity.  Infrastructure retaining walls are especially important for projects near bodies of water, where heavy rainfall or water runoff can cause significant damage or pose a safety risk.

Earthquake Protection

Retaining walls can also be designed to provide protection against earthquakes. In areas prone to seismic activity, retaining walls can be designed with reinforced concrete or other materials to ensure that the wall remains intact during an earthquake. The retaining wall can be designed to absorb the energy from the earthquake and distribute it evenly, preventing any damage to the infrastructure or surrounding area.

Mitigating Vehicle Collision

Infrastructure retaining walls can also be designed with safety features that protect against vehicle collisions. In areas where the retaining wall is located close to a road or other transportation route, for example, the wall can be designed with a crash barrier or other safety feature to prevent vehicles from colliding with the wall.

Retaining walls can help prevent vehicle collisions in several ways. Here are some ways retaining walls can help prevent vehicle collisions:

  1. Barrier protection: Retaining walls can act as a physical barrier between the roadway and surrounding structures, such as buildings or steep drops. This can prevent vehicles from colliding with these structures and reduce the risk of injury or property damage.

  2. Traffic control: Retaining walls can be used to direct traffic flow and prevent vehicles from entering restricted areas. By creating a clear boundary between different areas, retaining walls can help to reduce the risk of collisions and improve traffic safety.

  3. Visual cue: Retaining walls can provide a visual cue to drivers, alerting them to the presence of potential hazards such as steep drops or tight curves. This can help to reduce the speed of vehicles and increase driver awareness, reducing the risk of collisions.

  4. Roadway stabilization: Retaining walls can help to stabilize the roadway, reducing the risk of accidents caused by road failure or erosion. This is especially important in areas with steep slopes or unstable soil, where retaining walls can help to prevent road damage and reduce the risk of collisions.

  5. Improved drainage: Retaining walls can be designed to improve drainage, reducing the risk of hydroplaning and other accidents caused by wet or slippery road surfaces. By diverting water away from the roadway, retaining walls can help to improve road safety and prevent collisions.

Retaining walls can play an important role in preventing vehicle collisions by providing physical barriers, improving traffic control, providing visual cues to drivers, stabilizing roadways, and improving drainage.  This feature is especially critical for infrastructure projects located near busy highways or other high-traffic areas.

When designing and constructing infrastructure retaining walls, it’s essential to consider the features that are needed to ensure the safety of workers and the public and the security and stability of the surrounding area. Regular inspection and maintenance are also essential to ensure that the safety features of the retaining wall remain intact over time. Contact us today for more information on how Excel Retaining Walls can make implement all of these safety features and more on your next infrastructure wall project.