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Posted: December 10, 2015
Last modified: January 19, 2017

They go by the plain and technical name of mechanically stabilized earth walls, or MSEs. Although often overlooked by travelers, these walls perform the essential work of strengthening the foundations on which roadways and interstate structures stand.

Yet the I-4 Ultimate team is finding ways to turn these plain structures into decorative features to improve the overall look of the reconstructed highway.

Consisting of thousands of interlocking, one-ton concrete panels and attached support straps, the walls are just one part of the massive I-4 Ultimate project that will rebuild a 21-mile stretch of Interstate 4 to improve safety and mobility.

The team has found that simple designs and a light splash of color will add some nice visual effects to the highway structures that hold layers of earthen foundation in place. “In the end, everyone should be happy with this final product,” said Chris Dubois, SGL Project Manager for Area 3 of the I-4 Ultimate project. “It should be more aesthetically pleasing, too.”

As each row of concrete panels fits into place alongside the interstate, workers and heavy machinery pack sand in behind the panels and on top of supporting straps that help to hold walls upright. The walls allow the land behind them to be built up, which becomes part of the elevated roadway.

One of the first places to see these walls is around New Hampshire Street in the College Park area of Orlando. The walls will feature shades of brown and sand – nothing flashy, but enough to make a difference. In addition to the new walls, the new overpass bridge at New Hampshire Street will feature four tall pylons bearing the City of Orlando’s seal.

“It will give it a cleaner, smoother look,” Dubois said.

MSE Wall Construction B-Roll


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