“I really hope this project inspires people to think about the full range of opportunities that are available,” Attarian said during a site visit.
“We tend to take the roads for granted, like ‘oh, it’s just a road what can we do about it.’ But there’s actually quite a bit,” she added.
Reducing the storm water impact on sewers by as much as 80 percent means the city can hopefully prevent, or at least delay, multimillion-dollar upgrades to its aging system.
Recycling 60 percent of the project’s construction waste and sourcing 23 percent of new materials from recycled content means less pressure on the city’s landfills and showed local contractors a new way to cut costs.
Choosing drought-resistant plants for the bioswales means they ought to be able to withstand the hotter summers forecast as a result of climate change without wasting fresh water.
Other details are more focused on building community, like benches near a pond that captures storm water from a high school roof and courtyard, new shelters at the bus stops and signs up and down the street describing the project.
The city is currently drafting new guidelines that will incorporate many of these green approaches as requirements for any new road work going forward.
“These infrastructure projects last for 50, 100 years so you can’t afford to redo them again when you finally figure them out,” Attarian said. “You have to be designing for the future, not just the present.”