Over the years, we have consulted on numerous slope and retaining wall failures. The recent retaining wall failure adjacent to a railroad line in North Baltimore was captured on video by a bystander. As you listen to the background chatter, you will hear someone say ‘Three years they’ve been working on this….They’ve been out here ten times and all they do is put a little dirt in and try to fill it in’.
While we don’t have all the facts, the lesson learned here is when a wall or slope starts to move and cracks in the soil or pavement appear behind a wall or along the top of a slope, don’t ignore it. That’s when it’s time to bring in a geotechnical engineer who is experienced in retaining wall and slope failures. The geotechnical engineer can install instrumentation to measure even small amounts and rates of movement which enables the engineer to develop appropriate stabilizing measures.
Fortunately, this time no one was hurt.