New Mexico DOT uses retaining walls to relieve traffic congestion

June 14, 2016
Hot air balloons fly over Ledgestone Redi-Rock retaining wall
Hot air balloons fly over Ledgestone Redi-Rock retaining wall

The Paseo Del Norte/I-25 Interchange is one of the busiest corridors in New Mexico, often producing major traffic congestion issues during rush hours. The city of Albuquerque needed a way to make it easier and safer to travel on the highways, and wanted to incorporate a pedestrian walkway and bike trail system into the project.

Project engineers needed to find a retaining wall solution that could handle the daily freeze-thaw cycles of New Mexico's climate, that could be installed in a narrow workspace along a highly active interchange and private property line, and could be built on a flexible schedule. Given just 18 months to design and complete the project, finding a product that met all the engineering needs was critical.

When deciding which product would be the best fit for this project, the Redi-Rock retaining wall system, which is approved by the New Mexico DOT, stood out among the rest.

"It allows some flexibility to our really gives you the opportunity to utilize a system that is quicker to install so the phase of construction is easier," explained Sean Melville, P.E., Structures Manager with Bohannan Huston.

One-ton Redi-Rock gravity blocks stack together like giant LEGO blocks to build tall retaining walls. Several sections of the walls required on this project could be built without the need for additional reinforcement. This allowed walls to be built close to property lines while minimizing excavation and installation costs. For the taller portions on this project, the Redi-Rock Positive Connection (PC) System with geogrid reinforcement was used. A major advantage of the Redi-Rock system is that the reinforced retaining wall blocks integrate seamlessly with the gravity blocks, giving a cohesive look throughout the entire project.

The ledgestone and limestone textures blended in with the urban environment and made the pedestrian amenities look more inviting while fulfilling their functional purposes. In addition, the walls helped ease interstate congestion while staying within property line constraints.

"What I like about Redi-Rock walls like this is that it gives me the ability to bury the wall as much as I need to, and really provides an aesthetically pleasing wall without having to worry about form liners, and it's durable and cost effective," Melville said.

Quick installation allowed for the project to be completed on time, and the flexible schedule worked well with the walls being installed in various phases.

The final project used a combination of gravity and reinforced walls, ranging from 12 ft to 15 ft (3.7 m to 4.6 m) and totaling 8,050 sq ft (747.9 sq m). It included ADA accessible walkways and bike trails connecting to the pedestrian I-25 bridge, and the regional trail system already in place.

According to the city of Albuquerque, this $93 million project was completed on time and budget with joint effort from local, state and federal governments. Redi-Rock's cost-effective solutions and quick installation contributed to achieving this goal.

Click here to learn more about how Redi-Rock can help on roadway projects.

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