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Re: Retaining Wall Question

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After reading assorted responses to this issue, I will stand by my original
design philosophy of ignoring the vertical friction component.  As before, I
think the gravel backfill will not allow significant friction to develop
between the wall and the gravel, or for that matter between the gravel and
the soil.  As to the additional soil behind the gravel, but on top of the
heel (assuming the heel extends beyond the gravel, of course), seeing as the
soil is placed on top of the heel as opposed to the heel being poured under
the soil(!), it is safe to assume that the soil on top of the heel has been
removed and replaced, or at least placed.  I would imagine this creates a
weaker frictional plane between the natural soil and the backfill,
especially, as someone pointed out, if the backfill is placed in a wedge as
it often is.

Lastly, it appears that this issue is complex, and not well documented or
understood, and as such requires significant judgment and understanding on
the part of the design engineer.  As a company owner, with several engineers
working under me, I like the added confidence I get by instructing my
engineers to ignore the vertical friction in all cases.  While it may be a
bit conservative at times, it does not appear to be excessively so, and this
way I just have one less thing to worry about.  There is no need to make my
job any more complicated than it already is.

Bruce Resnick