Stefan Broadus from the City of Gainesville, describes how his project team used Envision on a segment of a Rails-to-Trails project.
The Porter’s Connections project connects two dead-end streets in a historic neighborhood to a Rails-to-Trails network with short paths. Due to the size of the sites, this was seen as an excellent opportunity to try to new technologies; if they succeeded we would have reassurance when using in the future on bigger projects and if they didn’t then it would not be a major loss. The paths are paved with a Recycled Glass Permeable Pavement. The recycled glass pavement features several benefits including being mostly comprised of a highly available recycled material, good infiltration rate, stormwater runoff nutrient reduction, and is more decorative than traditional paving. If the product proves functional, there is the potential to use the City’s collected glass for use in trails, sidewalks, and parking lots.
Another new technology to the city tested on this project was three Solar LED fixtures that light the trail without tying into the grid. The lights and the pavement are two high upfront cost items that would probably have been deemed too risky to test on a larger scale.
To complete the sites, overgrown vegetation and debris were removed and replaced with low maintenance and zero irrigation landscaping, benches, trash cans, and bollards to keep motorized vehicles off the trail network. Click here to view the project report with before and after photos.
Envision became publically available after construction was underway, so the City applied the rating system retroactively. The project scored the highest in resource allocation due to the recycled paving material and the solar powered lights. The area that the project scored the least was under Climate and Risk. I see scores in this category improving on future projects due to planning exercises such as carbon analysis, air quality, and climate impact assessment that haven’t been done in the past.
As a whole, I think the Envision system will provide extra incentive for more thorough project planning especially in areas that might have gotten skipped over in the past, such as Natural World and Climate. Also, I think this will prove to be a great tool in challenging the accepted, traditional methods of completing infrastructure projects.