Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Retaining Walls on the Rise at Daryl Carter Parkway

Since much of the initial work on a road construction job takes place behind the scenes and under the ground, it’s always exciting to see the first signs of above-ground progress. For I-4 Beyond the Ultimate’s Interstate 4 (I-4) at Daryl Carter Parkway Interchange project, which got underway in November 2022, that first visible formation is the start of construction of an exit ramp leading drivers from westbound I-4 to Daryl Carter Parkway.

Each of the project’s three new ramps (one exit ramp from each direction of I-4 and one eastbound entrance ramp from Daryl Carter Parkway) will be constructed with “mechanically stabilized earth” (MSE) retaining walls. This dramatic design consists of interlocking concrete panels and attached reinforcement straps that restrain and strengthen the material on which roadways and interstate structures stand.

Each row of panels is locked into place with the help of a crane. The reinforcement straps are run through loops embedded in the backs of the panels. These are laid out on the ground in a zig-zag arrangement, then staked down at the ends. Next, workers use heavy machinery to compress highly compactable sand behind the panels and atop the straps. This process is repeated until the MSE walls and layers of sand are built up to the desired elevation.

The concrete panels fit together like puzzle pieces and can be arranged in a variety of eye-catching geometric patterns. As a last step, the panels are painted. MSE walls already constructed along the I-4 Ultimate and I-4 Beyond the Ultimate corridor — like the ones at the I-4 and Kirkman Road (State Road (S.R.) 435) interchange — all utilize cohesive brown and sand tones.

In addition to the new ramps being constructed at Daryl Carter Parkway, the new interchange is being transformed into a diverging diamond interchange. Construction of a single, buffer-separated, westbound express lane in the center of I-4 between Central Florida Parkway and Daryl Carter Parkway is also part of this project.

Visit the project page to learn more about the I-4 at Daryl Carter Parkway project.