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A Massive Mission
Referred to as the Largest Segmental Retaining Wall System in North America

by Maureen Murray, Precise Communications

A Massive Mission

A new ground distribution hub for FedExA(R) was designed with six retaining wall structures, totaling more than 11,000 linear feet, with more than 300,000 square feet of SRW block built to heights of 60 feet, and requiring more than 650,000 square yards of geosynthetic reinforcement.

In Middletown, Connecticut, one the state's all-time largest construction projects, with the largest retaining wall on the continent to date, was developed to create the sprawling new FedExA(R) Ground Distribution Hub. To begin transforming the previous site of another corporation into the delivery company's airport- style nexus of distribution, massive volumes of earthworks would have to be reconfigured and contained by an intricate and durable segmental retaining wall system.

"When you think of how FedEx has been fueled by the rise of Amazon and other online retailers, it makes sense that their hub would need an incredible amount of space," said Terry Chappell, owner of the wall installation company, Earth Retention Systems.
The design for the shipping giant's hub campus project specified six retaining wall structures, encompassing more than 11,000 linear feet of SRWs to re-grade, stabilize and optimize the site. The project also called for more than 650,000 square yards of geosynthetic reinforcement.

Belgard's Vertica Retaining Wall System innovated by Anchor Wall Systems, along with Mirafi geogrid reinforcement were chosen to carry out the plans for these enormous wall structures. The manufacturer was selected as the exclusive supplier of the retaining wall block and geogrid materials. Their Cranston, Rhode Island, plant produced all of the block for the segmental retaining wall.

"This selection was based on a competitive price, proximity to the project, technical support, manufacturing capabilities, and the overall resources to supply such a large project on a tight time frame," explains Scott Vollmer, SRW market manager for the manufacturer's eastern region.

A Massive Mission

he block batter is 4.1 degrees and because of this degree of setback, more area on the site was available for parking. For example, on a 60' wall with a conventional 7-degree batter, the total setback is 7' 6" at the top according to Terry Chappell, Earth Retention Systems' owner. The batter of these blocks amounted to 4' 2" of setback.

A Massive Mission

Specified for the project was Belgard's Vertica Retaining Wall System innovated by Anchor Wall Systems. The manufacturer's business unit collaborated with the project's retaining wall design engineers from Advantage Engineers, as well as wall installation company, Earth Retention Systems and general contractor, Manafort Brothers, to ensure a successful design and completion of the project.

Vertica block is an ideal choice for large-scale retaining walls that require strength, durability, and a clean look in a near-vertical appearance.

The manufacturer's business unit worked with the project's retaining wall design engineers from Advantage Engineers, LCC to calibrate specifications for installing SRW units onto a geosynthetic reinforcement base. The completed retention wall configuration is comprised of more than 300,000 square feet of SRW block built to soaring heights of 60 feet, spanning two miles.

"Due to the size, complex installation and overall scope of the wall project, we knew right from the start it would have to be a collaborative effort to be a success story," remarked Chip George, general manager for Earth Retention Systems. Along with his company, George notes that the general contractor, Manafort Brothers, and the block manufacturer's commercial team "all worked together to make that happen."

"The design goal was to provide a finished product that will last, maximize the useful square footage of the property and be aesthetically pleasing," explained Dave Clouser, senior project manager for the design team at Advantage Engineers. "Due to the proposed height of these walls, using a system with minimal batter was essential to limiting the impact the wall would have on the useful square footage."

Terry Chappell agrees that the block batter was a huge benefit for the project's design. "The batter is 4.1 degrees so it provides more room at the top of the wall due to the vertical degree of setback, which is especially important with a 60 foot wall." (This batter design) alone provides three feet, four inches of extra useable space throughout the more than 11,000 linear feet of walls."

"From a design perspective, the biggest challenge was the relatively short time frame we had to complete the work," Clouser stated. "Midway through the design process, the site grades were raised about 3 feet, so we basically had to start from scratch. Credit goes to the team of engineers and drafters who put in the long hours to ensure we made the deadline."

The 260-acre FedEx distribution site now houses a 525,000-square-foot main building with several concourses branching off of it.

The SRW system provided structural stability for ground retention as well as an attractive landscape design for the campus, which was opened for business in September 2018. "This major feat of engineering is one of the most successful SRW projects within the (company's) family," said Greg Piper, VP of sales for the manufacturer's north region.

As seen in LASN magazine, February 2018.

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July 22, 2019, 10:05 am PDT

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