Emergency Retaining Wall Replacement: The East 26th Street Slide Repair in Baltimore, MD

by Joseph K. Cavey, P.E., (M.ASCE), Vice President, jkcavey@haywardbaker.com,
James A. Guinther, P.E., (M.ASCE), Vice President, jguinther@wrallp.com,
Anthony E. Passaro, Operations Manager, aepassaro@haywardbaker.com,


Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2016, Vol. 20, Issue 2, Pg. 52-58


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: During a record rainfall on April 30, 2014, a century-old, stone retaining wall between a dense urban roadway (26th Street) and the CSXT railroad track in Baltimore, MD, failed. The stone retaining wall was approximately 320 ft long and over 40 ft tall. The wall connects two tunnel portals — the railroad tunnel below North Charles Street on the west side, and the railroad tunnel below St. Paul Street on the east side. The failure sent part of the roadway, along with tons of soil, boulders, light poles, and eight packed cars, nearly 40 ft down, obstructing the tracks and halting rail traffic on this very busy railway that provides service between the Port of Baltimore and the north. Fortunately, no one was injured. Video of the failure, captured by onlookers, was broadcast via national media. The failure forced the evacuation of 19 homes until the first phase of earth-retention construction was completed. Due to the time sensitivity of the temporary retaining wall construction, the City of Baltimore (City) engineer, general contractor, and geotechnical contractor collaborated and worked seven days per week until the residents were able to return to their homes.

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