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The great wall of Russell Creek

image The Russell Creek Greenbelt

DALLAS/FT WORTH - The City of Plano is known for their gorgeous greenbelts and beautiful parks throughout the city. One of the busier greenbelts sits at Russell Creek. The Russell Creek Greenbelt is part of The City of Plano trail system. This trail has courses parallel to Russell Creek for a total of 2.5 miles and connects to Andrews Elementary School and Capstone Park.



    The city  realized that to maintain the beauty of the 8.5 acres greenbelt there were several areas that needed updates. They called for an erosion control project to mitigate subsidence and deterioration of Russell Creek Drive and the adjacent neighborhood. To accomplish this, retaining walls would need to be installed along Russell Creek Drive between Independence and Sutherland Lane.  As part of the project, a temporary trail was needed to also be installed along the wall as well as a pedestrian bridge across the creek to the trail on the north.  The city wanted to make sure that, as this project was going on,    the residents could still enjoy the trail until completion.
    After the successful completion of the Plano Courtyard Theatre and several other projects, the City of Plano decided to once again use Joe Funk Construction Engineers (JFC) for the Russell Creek Drive Phase 1 Greenbelt Improvement.  Joe Funk Construction was founded in 1965 in a garage by Joe Funk.  Joe, now in his ‘90s, serves as chairman emeritus with his son Marshall Funk stepping in the President role in the 1990s.  Today Marshall is the company’s CEO and Rusty Norris has been president since 2004.
    Over 1000 linear feet of retaining wall was constructed (nine separate walls in total).  The walls ranged in height from four to 12 ft.  The Joe Funk team used precast concrete faux stone blocks.  These blocks are pretty large at five ft. long, three ft. wide and two ft. deep. They had to drill piers, pour beams and then set the blocks on top of the beams.  There is a series of walls along the creek and in each area there are five walls.  One section was toward the top, the second further down and one really close to the creek.  The walls will prevent erosion of the soil on the bank of the creek back of the curb line.  I call it The Great Wall of Russell Creek because from street level to creek level is a 40 ft. vertical drop.
    One of the main challenges of the projects was  earthmoving.  The JFC team had to move tons of dirt.  The dirt had to be moved back and forth just to have space to work.  They would have to move the dirt again on site. The area was also heavily wooded so they had to clear trees to even get to the site to put in the foundation and build the walls.  Landscaping and irrigation had to be redone as well.  There were also the obvious safety issues of working on a steeply sloped work site and having to comply with all of the OSHA regulations to protect the employees.  Again there was a 40 ft. vertical drop to tackle.  The rain could have been a problem but fortunately it wasn’t at all.  In fact there was only one week where rain was a challenge.
    “This was a unique project,” said Rusty Norris, “due to the size and complexity of the retaining walls as well as the utilization of the aforementioned product. Generally, MSE walls are not designed and constructed to the level they were on this project. They used filter tubes and rock dams in the creek to filter any sediments that get into the water to keep the creek clean.  To be environmentally friendly, JFC also had to plant back over 150 of the trees that were removed.  Another part of the project was to fabricate and erect a 100-ft. long pedestrian bridge across the creek.
    Some of the key people on the Joe Funk Team were Edward Abraham, project manager; Dan Garner, superintendent, and Glenn Sefton, the APM/Field Engineer.
    The City of Plano is really happy due to completing the major portions of the project much faster than anticipated.  The city has always been a great partner with Joe Funk Construction and worked with them from the beginning to ensure a high quality end result.  -ja

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