Banking The Curve

Due to the tremendous exposure the site afforded, the intersection of Tennant Road and State Highway Route 9 one of New Jersey’s most heavily traveled

Due to the tremendous exposure the site afforded, the intersection of Tennant Road and State Highway Route 9 Û one of New Jersey’s most heavily traveled commercial thoroughfares Û was selected as the location for a new Manalapan Township branch of Wayne, N.J.-based Valley National Bank. High visibility, however, came with a price: the property’s tight setbacks and substantial grade changes, prohibitive for construction just 25 years ago, required an expertly engineered solution.

A multi-wall design, incorporating a 12-ft.-high retaining wall with a 12-ft., 90-degree radius, made construction possible on an otherwise unsuitable lot. The project’s landscape designer, Juan Urro of LandTek Consulting, also aimed to maximize visual impact on passing motorists by beautifying the property. Accordingly, LandTek retaining wall specifications included a custom-colored block to blend with the bank’s exterior.

The Allan Block segmental retaining wall system specified for Manalapan’s Valley National Bank project has been used successfully to build retaining walls exceeding 50 feet in height. Thus, the structure serves a functional purpose, as it provides an architectural focal point. Local building codes called for 4-ft.-high security fencing to be installed at the top elevation of the geogrid-reinforced wall. Further constraints included a storm water structure behind the wall, plus minimum setbacks on the bottom grade and maximum batter angles along the top (to maintain minimum drive-thru aisle widths). Achieving mandated batter angles required building the fence right behind the wall’s top blocks.

A narrow construction window allowed virtually no margin for error. Consequently, landscape contractor Mark Tompkins of Total Grounds, Inc., in Colts Neck, N.J., enlisted Edison, N.J.-based Clayton Block to produce custom-color, six-degree Classic Allan Block units to meet the project’s high-visibility and tight-setback demands. Clayton Block also is a distributor for Strata Systems products, including Stratagrid geogrids, StrataTex geotextiles, and Sleeve-It pre-engineered fence post integration system.

Combining strength and flexibility, Strata’s SG 200 polyester geogrid allowed for the overlap needed to adequately reinforce soil behind the bank’s curved wall. Moreover, Tompkins found Sleeve-It an indispensable solution for installation of fencing above the wall, facilitating on-site integration between fence subcontractors and wall erectors. Sleeve-It is good for both parties, he asserts. Since it’s a pre-engineered system installed by the wall builder, the integrity of the wall is not compromised during fencing installation.

Smooth coordination among key contractor, engineering, producer and distribution principals enabled the team to complete the three-phase Valley National Bank project in only three weeks, including installation of Stratagrid soil reinforcement, Allan Block walls, and the Sleeve-It system. Today, the custom color AB Classic retaining wall fronting the Manalapan exit off Route 9 stands as a distinctive landmark.