Colorado DOT making moves to create safer highways for truck drivers

Jan. 20, 2017

The Challenge:

When it snows in Vail, Colorado, it’s a skier’s dream—but for drivers, especially of trucks maneuvering steep mountain roads, it can be treacherous. To make things safer, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) wanted to widen I-70 at both sides of mountain pass locations to allow trucks to pull off and safely chain-up their wheels.

To widen the road, they needed a retaining wall separating the main road and the adjacent frontage road. However, there wasn’t enough space between the two to install a small block retaining wall due to the required length of geogrid.

Aesthetics were also very important, as Vail is known as a scenic town. They wanted a look that would blend in with the natural surroundings.

The Solution:

Sean Chiang, Ph.D., P.E., of Ground Engineering Consultants explained the solution like this: “A retaining wall was required to support heavy truck loads, resist potential guardrail impact, and accommodate pavement sections and a curb/gutter behind the wall. The Redi-Rock PC System with freestanding blocks at the top course was the best option for all these requirements.”

The Redi-Rock PC System for mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls combines strength and beauty, making it the perfect solution for this project. The geogrid reinforcement strips wrap through each block, eliminating the chance of connection failures.

“The Redi-Rock Positive Connection (PC) was chosen because the system doesn’t require long lengths of grid due to the weight of the blocks. That allowed it to fit within the area between I-70 and the frontage road,” said Seth Clark, business development partner of local Redi-Rock manufacturer Signature Stone. “The PC System also met the stringent Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) requirements.”

Because each block has close to 6 sq ft of surface area, the contractor was able to install a large amount of block each day, completing the project ahead of schedule. The aesthetics also played a big role in this project’s success.

“On a high profile job like this, Redi-Rock Ledgestone is the obvious choice,” said the installer of the walls, Samuel Carter, who is the project manager at Miller Wall Company. “The system allows for the high-quality aesthetics that suit the area, with superior design capabilities and ease of construction.”

The Outcome:

In total, the project included 16,000 sq ft of Redi-Rock PC System up to 15 ft in height. The project also included coordinating freestanding blocks and caps, as well as some custom pieces to allow the light pole to appear as part of the wall.

“At Signature Stone, we are very proud of this project,” Clark added. “The contractor, Miller Wall Company, did a fantastic job installing the wall. CDOT and Vail are also happy with the outcome. The custom panel solution for the light piers, coupled with the custom Ledgestone face and color make this project unique and beautiful.”

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