Technical News

Exclusively for Allan Block Design Professionals

March 2021

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ABU Online

Our Design Professional ABU Online events were created to help you with your retaining wall needs. Our local production and sales partners will be happy to schedule in person training on any topics you see below (call us if you are looking for those individuals) but feel free to use these to help with immediate needs.

training opportunities

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Held at:
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on the date listed

Best Practices for SRW Design
Tuesday 4/27

AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Thursday 4/29

SRW Inspectors Presentation
Tuesday 3/23

Segmental Retaining Wall Design
Thursday 3/18

SRW Architectural Presentation
Thursday 3/25

AB Fence and Installation
Tuesday 3/16

Water Management and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Thursday 4/22

Complex Composite Structures (CCS) and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Tuesday 3/30

No-Fines Concrete and AB Walls
Thursday 4/1

Terraces and Global Stability in AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Tuesday 4/6

Above Wall Considerations in AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Thursday 4/8

Seismic Consideration in AB Walls
Tuesday 4/13

Submittals and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Thursday 4/15

3D Modeling and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Tuesday 4/20

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  • Seven out of eight people in the Netherlands that are older than 15 have a bicycle
  • 5% of all trips in the United Kingdom are made with a bicycle. In the USA this number is lower than 1%, but in the Netherlands it is at a staggering 30%
  • Bicycles are more efficient in transforming energy to travel than cars, trains, airplanes, boats, and motorcycles.

Project Photos

Water Application
Water Application with AB Classic

GRS-IBS Bridge Construction
GRS-IBS Bridge Construction

Construction with Drainage
AB Classic Wall Construction

Construction with Drainage
AB Classic With a Culvert

Construction with Drainage
AB Classic Wall Construction

Tall Commercial Wall
AB Classic Retaining Wall

Curved retaining wall with road above
AB Classic Retaining Wall Along Roadway

Bridge retaining wall
AB Classic Retaining Wall With Large Culvert

Stepped up retaining wall along road
AB Classic Retaining Wall Up a Slope

Retaining wall Construction
AB Classic Retaining Wall Construction

No Fines Concrete retaining wall construction
No Fines Concrete Retaining Wall Construction

In this Issue:

Case Study: Hengelo, Netherlands - Pedestrian Bridges, Bike Path, and Waterways

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Heneglo Concept art

The Netherlands is a country famous for its water management. That is just one of the reasons why a project featuring pedestrian bridges, a bike path, and a waterway in Hengelo, Netherlands caught our attention. Hengelo is a city with plenty of streams and creeks. The municipality of Hengelo had a project to reconfigure how Veldbeek Creek was handled to allow for a new bicycle motorway, and they turned to the contractor Dusseldorp to collaborate on the project. The completed project included restoring the creek, creating the bicycle motorway, and adding pedestrian bridges to accommodate travel over the now above-ground creek.

Segmental retaining walls were selected to create usable land above the creek for the bicycle motorway and to support the pedestrian bridges. Allan Block retaining walls provided not only the durability and versatility needed for the project, but also the strength needed to support the heavy bridge structures. Allan Block’s Lite Stones were selected for their smaller size, giving the optical illusion of the walls appearing shorter than they really were. These were manufactured by Ziel Bruk in Poland, one of Allan Block’s European production partners.

The budget was key for this project. The geogrid-reinforced Allan Block retaining wall provided cost savings of more than 40% compared to the initial design, while still giving the masonry appearance that the municipality of Hengelo desired. AB Walls design software was used by a local engineer to design the geogrid reinforced walls, which ended up being 8 feet tall (or 2.4 m). The simple span pedestrian bridges were supported by the reinforced soil mass the Allan Block wall created, combined with a concrete slab placed directly behind the facing units.

For the actual construction, a combination of thorough planning and separating the project into stages was key. The city held numerous meetings to keep everyone involved working as a team and streamline overall production. Allan Block’s flexible installation allowed the construction to be completed in stages, ensuring minimal impact on the residents’ daily lives.

Good planning and innovative use of Allan Block products created a finished project that was both elegant and functional. Click here for the complete case study.

Heneglo Before and After

Contractor Talk: Water Applications - To Move and Store Water

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As construction and land development increases, so does the square footage of impermeable material- such as asphalt and concrete- which leads to an increase in stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is becoming a greater concern as it leads to more intense flooding events. Many cities and developments are now utilizing water applications to move and/or store stormwater runoff.

Water Application uses:

  • Move water through channels (see Netherlands Case Study)
  • Store water
    • Bio Retention and Bio Detention ponds
    • Retention and Detention Ponds
    • Dikes to hold back floodwaters

Each water application is unique, but there are common design recommendations laid out in Best Practices. To start with, understanding the water and its high- and low-water elevations in relation to the walls provides an understanding of how the walls should be designed.

  • Wall rock to be used for the entire infill depth to a height that is 1 ft (0.3 m) above the high-water elevation.
  • Raise the toe drain to the low water elevation to assist in moving water out of the reinforced zone.
  • Embankment protection fabric to be used at the back of the reinforced mass to 1 ft (0.3 m) above the high-water elevation.
  • Use rip rap at the toe of the wall to prevent erosion in moving water.
Water Application Detail

For more information, check out Best Practices for SRW Design,, or call Allan Block’s Engineering Department at 800-899-5309 x 3.

Engineer Talk: GRS-IBS and How It Can Be Used

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The use of GRS-IBS is a great solution to the thousands of outdated bridges scattered throughout the country today. There are over 600,000 bridges in the United States, many of which need replacement or repair. Here in the U.S., the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that 60-70% of these bridges are eligible to be constructed as a GRS-IBS system. It is a combination of Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS), like what we normally see in retaining walls, and an Integrated Bridge System (IBS) that uses proven methods for bridge designs.

What makes GRS-IBS the best method moving forward? There are two big reasons, time and money.

  • With no piles required and no curing times needed, GRS-IBS bridges are constructed in weeks not months, which minimizes the time traffic is altered for those routes.
  • Flexible Designs, meaning when complications do arise, the solution is usually only a slight modification, reducing the stress for the engineer.
  • GRS-IBS bridges will reduce the cost, depending on the size of the bridge, anywhere between 25% and 60% when compared to conventional bridge designs.

These are not the only benefits seen; drivers will also experience a smoother drive. Conventional bridge designs implore an approach slab that, over time, settles, causing that uncomfortable “tha-thud”. GRS-IBS superstructures are placed on the beam seat directly above the bearing bed creating that smooth transition.

Have more questions about GRS-IBS? Watch our Past Online ABU presentations or give us a call at 952-835-5309 ext. 3 and talk to one of our experienced engineering staff members.


The Economical Advantage of AB - Beyond the Block

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Here at Allan Block, we take great pride in the high-quality products that our production partners manufacture. Each of our blocks are held to the very highest standards, and the result is an industry-leading segmental retaining wall block. The price of an Allan Block unit can be more than a competing product. This is because we go above and beyond the basic requirements (ASTM 1372) needed to ensure that retaining walls built with Allan Block products will last a lifetime. While initially this makes it look like the other option is the most economical, that is not the case. In order to understand the true cost comparison of Allan Block versus competing products, we have to look at value rather than price.

Where the true value of Allan Block lies is the services that we, as a company, make available to you. At Allan Block, we strive to provide all of our customers with the following offerings:

We believe the most beneficial asset we can provide our industry is knowledge and training, and that a high-quality product is the cherry on top. We want to make sure that the retaining walls you are designing will last a lifetime, and that is where our true value lies. By designing with Allan Block, you can be sure that you are backed by the most customer supportive company in the industry. You can be sure that we will do whatever it takes to help you out. Our dedication to you is truly priceless and something you will not find anywhere else in the industry. Because all of this is included when you use Allan Block, there really is no other product that comes close to the economic advantage of Allan Block.

Value Price scale

Email us at, or give us a call at (800) 899-5309 to let us know how we can help you on your next project.

Tools: How to Adjust Wall Rock Depth in AB Walls

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Typically, designers are encouraged to redirect water away from the wall whenever possible. However, in water applications, it of course is going to be present. Therefore, the wall does need to be designed so that the water can freely flow through the soil mass as its levels fluctuate.

As outlined in the article Water Applications: To Move or Store Water, water applications require the wall rock to extend the entire length of the geogrid in the infill region. This modification can be completed using Allan Block’s design software, AB Walls 3D+Terraces.

To make this modification, select the Wall Settings tab on the top of the program, and then from that tab, select Wall Rock. For cases with an unknown high-water level, simply select the button for Entire Infill Area. If the high-water level is known, instead select the “Variable Depth” and change the height for the increased wall rock to be at least 12 in. (300 mm) above the high-water line, relative to the toe of the way. Change the wall rock depth to be equivalent to the distance from the back of block to the end of the geogrid. This allows wall rock to meet Best Practices for water management applications.

Wall Rock Palcement Tab
AB Walls with Wall Rock Entire Depth

As always, if you have questions or want clarification on design concerns, feel free to reach out to us at, or call us at 952-835-5309 (dial extension 3 for the engineering team).

Engineer Spotlight: ABI Engineering Consultants

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Retaining wall projects can range from small scale garden walls to a variety of large-scale projects. To be fully equipped for any project, a designer needs to be well versed and experienced with retaining wall designs. For a company that showcases professionalism and who helps to set the standard for SRW designs, our spotlight is on ABI Engineering Consultants. When ABI receives a retaining wall project, it will most likely find its way to the desk of its senior engineer, Jimmy Wang.

ABI Engineering Logo

Jimmy graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After college, he found a position working as a civil alongside Daya Bettadapura. During the early 2000’s when Daya started ABI Engineering Consultants, Jimmy helped him to continue building the firm as we know it today, and has been with Daya and the team at ABI since. Jimmy had some experience with wall designs previously, but ABI’s design requests took off during the housing boom of the mid 2000’s. It was during this time that they were introduced to the Allan Block team and our AB Walls design software to assist them in getting finished projects out the door.

Jimmy has worked with Allan Block for many years, and has used the AB Walls software on countless projects. He appreciates the support of our engineering team and knows we are available to assist on projects and questions. We are always more than happy to do so as they continue to push for Best Practices and set a higher standard for retaining wall designs.

No matter what the project, the team at ABI uses their experience to pay close attention to detail. With a background in civil and geotechnical engineering, Jimmy will always insist on making sure questions are answered and all data is available for a design, especially the geotechnical report. We asked Jimmy what advice he would give to a new designer, and he recommended to always ensure an understanding of the site, the soils report, the programs you are using, and to always ask why and how.

The team at ABI Engineering Consultants has the experience, drive, and professionalism that helps ensure projects are completed with the Best Practices approach. It is this high standard of work and designs that helps make Allan Block the company that we are today. We cannot say thank you enough to Jimmy, Daya, and the rest of the team at ABI Engineering Consultants, and we look forward to continue working with them into the future.

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