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Technical Note: Segmental retaining walls come of age

Mark Shaw, Maccaferri. This note was first published in GE’s July 2005 issue.

Segmental (block) retaining walls (SRW) have been available in the UK for many years but most product development and associ ated growth in sales and popular ity has been in the US. The market there is mature and there are many block manufacturers offering a wide range of systems.

A typical SRW comprises a mass of granular soil reinforced with a polymeric geogrid and faced with hydraulically pressed “semi-dry” concrete facing blocks (Figures 1a and 1b). 

Early in the development of SRW structures, the US National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) took a lead in setting standards for design construction and testing.

Its Design manual for segmental retaining walls first appeared in 1993 and rapidly became the definitive guide for engineers and architects considering using this method of retaining wall construction.

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