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Old 07-23-2008, 11:25 PM   #1
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Location: I live in a small rural community between Gr Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, MI
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Replacing Railroad Tie Retaining Wall


We have a railroad tie retaining wall that now must be replaced since we've had so much rain here in Michigan this year. We live on a lake and the retaining wall supports our upper parking area. There are 15 steps that go between 2 sections of the wall. Whoever installed it the 1st time, only did half of it right. I am trying to decide if the wall should go across the 48 ft of this area; or figure a better way of installing the steps so that we stop losing all of the soil/gravel/sand that the wall is supposed to hold back. It seems like they used pieces that were left over to do the smaller side and created planters. Don't the RR ties need to go back into the soil perpendicular to the wall itself? If so, how far back should they go? The left side is staggered, so it's hard to tell how far back in they go. Any ideas?
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Old 07-24-2008, 06:09 AM   #2
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Replacing Railroad Tie Retaining Wall


Yes, the ties should return back to anchor the wall as you say.

Have you considered using forms and concrete, along with proper drainage construction?

Done right, the area can last "forever" with no decay or slumping.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:03 AM   #3
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Replacing Railroad Tie Retaining Wall


Hmmm, let's see here...48 feet across, in 2 sections, separated by 15 steps up to your parking area. Say about 9-10 feet high, and say three cars in the lot...

That sounds to me like a lot of weight to hold back and IMO' - just given the height - railroad ties would not have been my first choice, given that, the creosote content of the ties (or something similar) and the proximity of the lake. Off the top of my head, I'd say a 9' high retaining wall with just grass above it, would have needed a 60 degree angle and therefore would have had to go back into the soil at least 6 feet. Add extra weight to that and to my mind, this is a temporary structure at best.

I would have rather seen a proper concrete wall, proper drainage tube, geotextile and interlocking stones in the first place -and certainly as a replacement. Hopefully that's in your budget.
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Last edited by ccarlisle; 07-24-2008 at 08:05 AM.
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