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Earth-Retaining Structures: Selection, Design, Construction, and Inspection


The instructors did an excellent job presenting a multiple of all types of material to a diverse group of students, from engineers to administrators. They kept it interesting, informative and used real-world examples. — Anthony Adamo, Principal Engineer, TTL Inc., Tuscaloosa, AL

Purpose and Background

The United States earth retaining structure market exceeds 250 million square feet annually and there are many different types retaining systems to select from which are unique in design and construction and performance Unit costs vary from less than $20 to in excess of $1200 per square foot. Selecting the most technically appropriate and cost-effective system is critical to project cost. schedule and performance. Selection of an inappropriate system, unfortunately, can result in time-consuming and costly project disputes. Many engineers, contractors and project managers do not have the needed knowledge and skills to select, design, construct and monitor these systems.

The instructors combine to present the critical knowledge and skills you need in order to take advantage of the cost-effective use of earth retaining structures in rural and urban construction for transportation, energy, commercial and industrial development. From start to finish - from design to construction and general site development - the instructors will lead you through the myriad of different retaining wall systems from which you can choose for your project.

During this two-day program, the instructors present a logical sequence of topics and activities to allow participants to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. These activities include:  lecture, student exercises, instructor lead example problems and lively discussion periods. All participants will receive a copy of the Federal Highway Administration publication on the selection, design, and construction of Earth Retaining Structures. This publication addresses all cut and fill wall types for temporary and permanent applications and related topics including subsurface drainage, selection of soil and rock parameters detailed examples and long-term monitoring processes (asset management considerations) for permanent wall applications.

Seminar Benefits and Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, participants will have gained enormously from the experience and the practical knowledge of the instructors and will be able to:

  • Recognize potential applications for retaining structures used in civil engineering applications
  • Select the most technically appropriate and cost-effective earth retaining system for your application
  • Examine and select appropriate material properties, soil/rock design parameters and earth pressure loading diagrams
  • Prepare conceptual and basic designs using appropriate design methods, factors of safety, earth pressure diagrams and field verification methods
  • Understand and apply load and resistance factor design principles to the design of temporary and permanent earth retaining structures
  • Evaluate and review contractor submitted designs and construction plans
  • Select appropriate specification/contracting method(s) and prepare contract documents
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of retaining wall construction and maintenance

Assessment of Learning Outcomes

Achievement of the learning outcomes will be assessed through class exercises, class discussion following the presentation of each major topic, and through short case studies.

Who Should Attend?

This program is developed to meet the needs of generalist civil engineers, geotechnical and structural specialists, contractors, and retaining wall company representatives.

Seminar Outline | 1.4 CEUs.

8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Day 1

  • Introductions, Learning Objective, and Course Overview
  • History/Classification/Selection of Earth Retaining Systems
  • Soil and Rock Properties (tests and design property selection)
  • Lateral Earth Pressures
  • Cast-in-Place and Semi-Gravity Wall
  • Modular Gravity Walls
  • Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls introduction and Concepts

Day 2

  • MSE Walls Design and Construction Externally Stabilized Walls (e.g., Sheet Pile, Soldier Pile and Lagging, Slurry Walls) Intro
  • Externally Stabilized Wall Design
  • Ground Anchor Walls
  • Soil Nail Walls and Micropile Walls
  • Course Summary and Closure
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