Riverfront Stabilization Wall Helps Redevelop Historic Town

Redi-Rock was able to fit with the aesthetic of the town, while also meeting all design requirements


It all began with a fire. When a historic house burned down in 2006, it left vacant property that was prone to flooding. In 2015, the city of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, embarked on a $6 million waterfront redevelopment project to beautify the area, attract more foot traffic, and boost business in town.


The unprotected shoreline was prone to flooding

One of the initial challenges was to raise the property, which is adjacent to Spring Creek, out of the floodplain to make it viable to potential developers, while protecting the environment both in and around the creek.

Paxton Precast, the local Redi-Rock manufacturer rose to the challenge: "From the initial design phase, there were a number of special requests," said Betsy Wisniski, Paxton Precast Representative. "The Department of Fish and Wildlife required custom blocks to safeguard the trout population, and the Historical Society was very involved in color selection and design."

The walls and walkway had to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, creating a destination for walkers, fishers, and other visitors to the area.


"Redi-Rock was the perfect fit to handle the critical earth retention demands of the stream bank stability, as well as provide the enhanced aesthetic features for the project, which are consistent with the architecture of this historic town," said Clint Hines, Wall Engineer, J.C. Hines & Associates, LLC.


The new protection kept the shoreline safe and dry

When planning the project, members of the development committee saw an existing wall in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, and liked the look, which gave engineers a place to start. However, because the wall would be in the water, durability was an additional critical factor. Redi-Rock's large modular units, which don't require additional supports, were a distinct advantage in completing the project on a tight deadline.

The Bellefonte Area Industrial Development Authority, working with their Project Engineer, Buchart Horn, knew they wanted to work with Redi-Rock from the get-go.

"We chose Redi-Rock based on the engineer's experience with the product, its aesthetic appearance and the cost," explained Donald L. Holderman, Bellefonte Assistant Borough Manager. "We were invited to look at their finished project in Sunbury and speak to local officials, and were pleased by what we saw and heard. In addition, we visited their manufacturing plant and asked if it was possible to make each stone in a block a different color. Not only did they say 'yes,' but they sent us a sample to approve."


The finished project includes nine walls that totaled approximately 17,000 square feet (1579 square meters), as well as a 10-foot (3-meter) wide lighted walkway. The walls were constructed using primarily 60in (1520mm) Limestone blocks, along with Gravity blocks in the Ledgestone texture and Freestanding blocks. Also included were 41in (1030mm) blocks with lights inside and specialty "fish blocks."

"Because the wall encroaches on the creek, we were asked to produce a customized cantilevered block to create a safe haven and shade for the trout," explained Wisniski. "We also created over 300 custom 4in (102mm) caps and specialty-cast blocks to house lights for the walkway. Though this project had many challenges, we are very proud of the finished product."


A lighted pathway and stairs make this riverfront easier and safer to access for recreational activities.

The refurbished area includes a set of steps leading to the water to enable easy access for fishers, kayakers and waders to enjoy Spring Creek, as well as a ramp to cater to guests with disabilities. The lighted walkway also provides a place for a pleasant evening stroll along the water. Perhaps most importantly, the retention wall will allow once vacant land to be developed, contributing to the town's growth.

"Needless to say, everyone was happy with the way it turned out, and we have received nothing but compliments on the results," added Holderman. "We would recommend this product to anyone because it looks fantastic, was easily installed and was very cost effective."


The two walls pictured here are designed in a tiered configuration to support a walkway for a scenic stroll along Spring Creek.


Project: Bellefonte Riverfront #188 Manufacturer: Paxton Precast Owner: City of Bellefonte Installer: Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc. Design Engineer: JC Hines & Associates Project Engineer: Buchart Horn, Inc. / BASCO Associates Location: Bellefonte, Pennsylvania Year Built: 2016

Freestanding Wall - Two or more textured sides so it looks great from all angles.

Gravity Retaining Wall Blocks - Massive, one-ton Redi-Rock gravity blocks rely on the sheer mass of each block to hold back the earth.

Ledgestone Texture Blocks - Redi-Rock Ledgestone blocks mimic the look of real quarried stone.

Limestone Texture Blocks - Redi-Rock Limestone blocks mimic the texture of natural split Limestone.

Accessories - Coordinating accessories help any retaining wall have a complete look.

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