Engineering News-Record (ENR) Mountain States recently recognized GeoStabilization International® as a Specialty Construction “Award of Merit” winner for the Vail Pass Wall Repairs Project in Eagle County, Colorado.
Although construction of Interstate 70, which commences in Cove Fort, Utah, and terminates near Baltimore, Maryland, was begun in 1956, the roadway’s completion was delayed until 1992 due to historically significant and environmentally sensitive areas in Colorado such as Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon. Determined to overcome apprehensions and responsibly finish this last section of the interstate roadway, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) turned to the Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in the early 1970s for their assistance in the roadway’s design. Members of this CDOT design team included professional geologist Bob Barrett and professional engineer Al Ruckman, founders of GeoStabilization International.
Taliesin’s belief in designing structures in harmony with humanity and the environment led to many of the innovative curved and angled retaining walls utilized in the roadway construction. Earthworks above Vail Pass interstate used sculpted rocks cut to match outcroppings and other features and were incorporated in the design from the beginning. One-of-a-kind retaining walls, terraced with curves, angles, and pockets for patches of native grass, held back slopes while sculptured bridges followed the mountainside’s curve. Concrete was textured and mixed with iron oxide for a muddy red hue to match cliffs above the highway. The aesthetics blended the roadway into the surrounding mountains, as illustrated in this article.
These original innovations held up well for nearly 50 years, but due to the harsh high-altitude environment, began deteriorating. Weathering, erosion, and the snow-removal operations caused some structures to exhibit distress that would lead to failure if maintenance and repair operations were not initiated. While preserving structural integrity was paramount, maintaining historical integrity was equally important. Leveraging innovative repair techniques, GeoStabilization International repaired the retaining walls without sacrificing beauty or aesthetics.
“This was a very sentimental project for our company” explained Colby Barrett, GeoStabilization’s CEO. “Our company’s founders Bob Barrett and Al Ruckman were involved in the original design and construction of these very innovative structures many decades ago. It’s awesome to know that the GeoStabilization Family was involved in both the original installation and extending the service life of these features.”
During the revolutionary war, General Washington burned the wooden bridge over a small brook in the Northeastern United States to delay the advance of Cornwallis’ army.