Earth Walls: Making the Right Choice

by George A. Munfakh, (M.ASCE), Head Geotechnical Dept. and Vice Pres.; Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 2, Pg. 48-57

Document Type: Feature article


Earth walls are retaining walls where the ground assumes a load-bearing role. These walls either support compacted earth (embankment-type reinforced compacted earth walls such as Doublewal and gabion types) or ground excavations (in situ ground reinforcement structures such as secant piles and H-Z systems). There are nine major selection factors: soil characteristics, strain compatibility, ground water level, construction considerations, right-of-way, aesthetics, durability and maintenance, cost, and politics and tradition. Three projects demonstrating the process of selection of an appropriate retaining structure are the access roads for the H-3 tunnel in Hawaii, the ventilation system for Canada's Mount McDonald Tunnel and the Canton-Seagirt facility holding excavated material from Baltimore's Fort McHenry Tunnel. A longer version of this paper, with more case histories and details, is in the proceedings of ASCE's 1990 Design and Performance of Earth Retaining Structures conference.

Subject Headings: Retaining structures | Structure reinforcement | Tunnels | Walls | Compacted soils | Soil stabilization | Excavation | Political factors | Hawaii | United States

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