Portland, Maine’s latest addition to its trail network is both an example of the principles of “new urbanism” and an excellent testing ground for porous paving systems. The Bayside Trail, which officially opened on August 19th, runs one mile through the heart of an emerging mixed use neighborhood. It provides a connection between the city’s largest park at Deering Oaks and the popular Eastern Prom and Back Cove trails.
Completion of the trail, for which Woodard & Curran provided civil engineering and stormwater design, and construction oversight represent a big step in the City’s goal to become more walkable. This is the theme of “new urbanism,” which holds that neighborhoods should accommodate many different uses and be defined and shaped by universally accessible public spaces.
New urbanism is increasingly informing the way urban spaces are developed or redeveloped. Neighborhood trails are one way for cities to put the principles of new urbanism to work. Trails help connect pedestrians and cyclists to city services, workplaces, and other necessities. The City of Portland, Portland Trails, The Trust for Public Land and the others involved in creating this trail have laid the foundation for another vibrant, livable neighborhood.
Another important feature of the Bayside Trail is its use of different types of porous paving technologies to address a challenging stormwater management situation. These paving surfaces, including brick pavers that allow water to infiltrate between them and pervious concrete, mitigate potential stormwater drainage issues. They also provide a test case for long-term maintenance and durability of porous paving systems.
When porous paving technologies were emerging, many people were concerned that they would require more maintenance or earlier replacement than conventional surfaces, therefore driving up their cost. Many of these surfaces actually reduce maintenance costs. For a city like Portland, ice is a major concern in the winter, but because water drains through the porous surfaces, ice is less likely to form, reducing the need for salting and sanding through the winter.
Bayside Trail is a great benefit for Portland and area residents, and a model of how progressive development principles can lay the groundwork for neighborhood development that is environmentally and economically sound.
Contributed by Barry Sheff, P.E.