El Paso is finally making some progress in its effort to think about the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists when planning growth and infrastructure... although we still have a long way to go getting everyone on board. There is another way we should be considering and improving our streets... and that is how we can improve them with thought to our eco-system, they need to be hospitable and beautiful but also green in an ecological sense. This article point to some unique ideas that other city's are implementing to produce greener streetscapes and how they can help handle the polluted runoff and contaminants without passing it into our waterways.
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While the practice of greening our streets is in its infancy, policies and projects are emerging. By and large, I love them.
In Portland, Oregon, for example, the city has adopted a green streets policy to promote and incorporate the use of green street facilities in public and private development. A number of on-the-ground projects have emerged as a result, including the ambitious, downtown Southwest Montgomery Green Street that connects Portland's West Hills along a nine-block corridor to the Willamette River. The project is being designed to enhance the pedestrian experience as well as manage stormwater, as this 2012 award citation from the American Society of Landscape Architects highlights:
"The SW Montgomery Green Street Plan demonstrates how, in even the most ultra-urban conditions, downtown streets can be planned and retrofitted not only to fully manage stormwater runoff but to also create, integrate, and preserve vibrant pedestrian spaces. The landscape architect was asked to take the primary role creating a highly integrated and pedestrian-oriented urban streetscape vision that incorporates a variety of green infrastructure strategies along the corridor including stormwater swales, planters, green walls, green roofs, artful stormwater conveyance, and a definitive 'curbless' street design."
The project, which employs several of the techniques mentioned above and is being implemented in phases, is being designed to treat 1.8 million gallons of stormwater runoff. Pedestrians are given priority throughout the corridor. (Lots of details may be found in this report, prepared by the project's lead consultants Nevue Ngan Associates.)
Another city with a robust green streets policy - and ambitious green infrastructure policies generally - is Philadelphia, which has published a 95-page Green Streets Design Manual (plus another 110 pages of detailed appendices). Released last year, the manual contains illustrated guidelines and specifications for matching particular neighborhood and roadway circumstances to particular greening practices such as stormwater "bump-outs" that extend curbs to make room for green landscaping (and also make pedestrian crossings easier and shorter); tree planting and tree trenches; permeable pavement; green gutters; drainage wells; and other effective practices.
The Philadelphia Water Department worked closely with the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities, the Streets Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and other public utilities, partners, and agencies to develop templates that are flexible enough to be applied in a variety of urban street conditions. According to its website, the Green Streets Design Manual "outlines what types of green stormwater infrastructure practices are appropriate on various street typologies, provides standardized design details, and lays out the necessary design review and construction inspection processes. Moving forward, design professionals, engineers, planners, and developers can utilize the approved design standards and procedures therein to expedite green street development in Philadelphia."
A great summary introduction to the Philadelphia Manual and the objectives it is designed to serve is posted on the Greater Places website established and maintained by longtime city-practices leader Lisa Engstrom Nisenson. (I highly recommend the Greater Places site in general as an aggregator of readily accessible information about best practices in cities around the world.) A list of green-streets projects currently under way in Philadelphia can be found on the Water Department's website.
Cities are important to nature, because compact development and living patterns help preserve watersheds and natural ecosystems beyond city borders. Without compact cities, the countryside becomes fragmented in ways that are antithetical to the functioning of natural systems (as well as to scenic beauty), which is precisely why suburban sprawl has been such a disaster for our landscape.
But nature is also important to cities, because it makes cities more beautiful, functional, and hospitable. A growing plethora of research shows without question that our mental and physical health improves in the presence of urban nature. The challenge in cities, though, is to bring nature into the urban environment in ways that support rather than displace urbanity. I can think of few ways that do this more seamlessly than greening our streets.
Author:Ana Maria Navarro Phone: 915-820-8484 Dated: June 25th 2015 Views: 2,549 About Ana Maria: I was born in Cd. Guerrero, Chih. Mexico. Where I finished my elementary studies then I went to Chih...
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