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Chile: Reinforced Earth® walls for the new access road of the town of Iquique


In order to improve the connectivity between the cities Iquique and Alto Hospicio, the Ministry of Public Works of Chile [MOP] developed the basic engineering of the project called "Improving Accessibility and Connectivity of the Iquique city", which is divided into 9 phases.

The project, located in the extreme north of the country, has a total of 17,2 km in length and an area of 77.000 m² of mechanically stabilized earth walls with a maximum height of 22 meters.

To date, the first two phases have been completeted. One of them, section II, was executed by main contractor Sacyr which awarded Tierra Armada Chile SpA the contract for engineering, supply and technical assistance for 6,000 m² of Reinforced Earth® walls.

The entry of the companies Tierra Armada Chile and Sacyr in the project was through the use of the technology TerraClass with GeoStrap 5®. This because the north zone of Chile has a high content of soluble salts that make it impossible to use galvanized steel reinforcements.

Today, phase III of the project is under construction. It is an emblematic work for the government for being one of the largest and most complex. This phase has a length of 4,9 kilometers and is executed by the consortium FCC Construction Spain and FCC Construction Chile, which contracted the company Tierra Armada Chile S.p.A. to design, supply and provide technical assistance for the construction of 33.000 m² of Reinforced Earth® walls. This section will have one of the largest walls in South America with a length of 2,5 kilometers.

Given the success of the sections already built and in construction, the department of structural revision of the MOP with Tierra Armada Chile are defining the minimum standards required in the design of the high walls to be built in the next phases in this megaproject. Wherever required, this may include the increase in the thickness of the bottom panels, the use of thicker bearing pads and a validation of the seismic deformations through finites elements models.