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Railroad Tie Retaining Wall Problems? Repair or Replace in Charlotte NC

Railroad Tie Retaining Wall Collapsing, Leaning or Decaying?

If you are a homeowner, realtor, or property manager in the Charlotte area and you are dealing with a damaged or decaying timber retaining wall on the property, exploring a repair strategy as opposed to removal and/or replacement could save thousands of dollars on the project. There are currently hundreds of rotten and decaying timber retaining walls located all over Mecklenburg County and the surrounding counties. Built in the 70’s and 80’s for the most part, these walls decay over time usually from poor construction, moisture damage, erosion, and/or drainage problems around the wall. As some of these retaining systems could be in hard to reach places on the grounds holding back large areas of earth, the cost for replacement could be astronomical. For the right candidate, a retrofit strategy should be considered to potentially cut the cost of the project in half without all of the aggravation of replacing the old wall. Stabilization in place would have several advantages.

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The first advantage would be egress. Replacement will require the use of heavy equipment. If the wall is in an area that is hard to reach, extensive grading and/or cutting down of trees and/or building roads to create access to the job site may be required before any repairs can begin. These same access issues may require that production is done completely by hand work increasing labor costs on the job tenfold just to bring materials in and out of the work area.

The second challenge is removal and disposal. Old railroad timbers are soaked in creosote which is a toxic chemical. The old timbers cannot be disposed of in a public landfill and must be disposed of in special dumping areas at extensive cost. It is more advantageous to keep the old wall in place and allow it to degrade naturally into the ground over time allowing it to dissipate slowly and safely back into the surrounding soils.


Using a contractor that is an expert in limited access drilling will have the tools and the skills necessary to stabilize the old wall in place. The company can trim back the bushes and trees around the work area to expose the wall fully. Set up scaffolding along the wall, and utilize small hand drills and other specialized equipment that can be utilized for the installation of a soil nail retaining system without the need of using heavy equipment. Working with structural and geotechnical engineers here locally inside our network a repair plan can be engineered to install a series of soil nails supported with mechanical connections such as fencing and/or geogrid to stabilize the wall in place to prevent additional deflection and soil loss. Any rotten timbers at the top of the wall can be replaced and proper drainage established on top of the wall to re-direct water around the wall as needed during the project. Bushes and hedge groves can also be installed at the top of the wall to help control moisture and erosion. If the wall is visible to the public, a vegetative application can be added to the face by installing burlap and pockets of Ivy that can overtake the work zone over time camouflaging the soil nail locations and bearing plates completely after a few seasons. If needed, a shotcrete face can also be applied over the soil nails to completely hide the repair with a more industrial finish.

Railroad Tie Retaining Wall Repair

Railroad tie retaining wall repair - construction complete

Railroad tie retaining wall repair - construction complete ivy covered wall COMPLETED

For more information on stabilizing timber retaining walls or any masonry retaining wall that you may encounter on site with limited access drilling, we have the most qualified professionals, installers, and engineers in our network to design and install the repairs turnkey. We are not affiliated with franchisees and we do not send out commissioned based sales people that are completely unqualified to handle a situation such as the design and installation of a soil nail retaining system. We are completely independent from the manufacturing sector allowing us to apply common sense applications and means utilizing local products and services at much more competitive price point for the project. Give us a call today for a phone consultation to discuss the challenges and a free site inspection can then be arranged to evaluate the situation. We are here to help!

I reached out to Michael for consultation services and he was one of the most helpful small business owners I have ever encountered. His subject matter knowledge was surpassed only by his willingness to help me solve my problems. I would highly recommend his company to anyone seeking help or services with their foundation, basement, or crawlspace – you dont come across good folks like him very often! Thanks, Michael.

S. Kelly
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