Building Retaining Walls One Piece at a Time

Many of us have retaining walls at home to hold back soil to elevate a front yard or support a hillside slope in the backyard. On the Bridge Project, retaining walls serve the same purpose. But, in this case, they hold concrete used to build connectors to the various on- and offramps for the new bridge. And, as you can imagine, they’re much grander in scale.

Giant retaining walls and accompanying concrete placement behind them were constructed along Harbor Scenic Drive to enable a gradual ramp that will eventually connect I-710 to the new bridge. At the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Pico Avenue, smaller-in-comparison retaining walls were built to create a ramp to connect the off-ramps into the city and port complex from the eastbound decline.

All of the retaining walls on the Bridge Project have the same look: concrete tiles that are approximately 4 feet by 5 feet are locked together into a solid wall. Each one of these tiles weighs more than 1,500 pounds, and putting them in place requires precise coordination between crane operator and ground crew. In the video above, a construction team places a single tile into the north-facing retaining wall at Pico Avenue.

After careful placement, the giant concrete tile is wedged into the other tiles adjacent to it. A worker levels the tile to ensure it’s not tipping, then he wedges it even tighter. A worker disconnects the crane cable, and the crane operator moves onto the next tile. The entire process from lifting off the ground to detaching the crane cable after placement takes approximately 3 minutes. Pretty impressive.