Avalanches and large quantities of meltwater are being guided safely away from Innsbruck, in part thanks to the use of a system incorporating TenCate geosynthetics.
At Mühlau, just to the north of Innsbruck (Austria), runs a channel in which an avalanche dam has been constructed. It consists of five parallel concrete blocks with a reinforced slope on either side based on TenCate geosynthetics. This natural channel serves as a discharge for avalanches and in spring for the large quantities of meltwater. This ensures that the villages of Mühlau and Arzl and – in the worst-case scenario - the city of Innsbruck itself are not overtaken by this natural disaster.
The concrete structure serves to considerably lessen the destructive force of the avalanche. The reinforced earth slope on either side of it blocks the passage of snow and water. This avalanche dam is 23 metres high and 22 metres wide at its base. The structure is designed to resist a pressure of 20 tons per m².
Traditional solutions using only stone or concrete are not viable: the costs of such a structure and of transporting building materials to such a remote and difficult terrain would be too high. Moreover, the area is popular with tourists, which is why providing a natural appearance is by far the preferred solution. This has been successful, in part thanks to the use of TenCate Polyfelt Polyslope® S systems, an environmentally-friendly and attractively priced system for the construction of retaining walls. It consists of geosynthetics for reinforcement (TenCate Polyfelt® and TenCate Miragrid®), a preformed steel grid (shuttering), TenCate Polyfelt® erosion protection and locally available soil as filling. This ensures that a green bank covered in vegetation will grow rapidly and have a natural appearance.
View from the hills north of Innsbruck