Buffalo’s Pervious Pavement Project

The City of Buffalo is testing out its first porous street. That’s right, Clarendon Place in North Buffalo now has pervious pavement asphalt, which allows rainwater to permeate directly into the ground. This would be an incredibly green initiative if implemented throughout the city. The initiative would reduce the amount of storm water entering the sewers, which would also help to curb the amount of rain runoff that contributes to excessive overflow into our waters. That would mean less sewage entering our waters since combined sewer overflow system is comprised of a mixture of rain water and sewage. 
This recent green pilot program is made possible thanks to a $750,000 State Grant (Green Innovation Grant Program from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation), and is part of an even larger $3,000,000 grant that the Buffalo Sewer Authority is utilizing towards creating green street treatments (see Elmwood for example). These types of green measures are in the process of being monitored so that the amount of water seeping into the asphalt (through pervious pavement and rain gardens) can be tracked. 
The Green Innovation Grant Program is funded through the United States Environmental Protection Agency and was submitted jointly by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
Photo: Mayor Brown demonstrated
how the street functioned by pouring water onto the asphalt which quickly
evaporated. 

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

37 comments
Magnum
Magnum

How many politicians does it take to water asphalt?

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

OK then. To state the obvious, my attempts to include an image in a comment had about as much success as the South Korean badminton team.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Here it is so you can see it (I think):

jibbers
jibbers

Isn't Clarendon Place in Delware District?

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Now I've been excited about green infrastructure and stormwater management.

But the Mayor appears to be REALLY excited.

It's a good thing.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

The Buffalo Sewer Authority is under a consent decree by the EPA for violating clean water standards. Alternative solutions would cost literally hundreds of millions of dollars, cause a lot of disruption to dig up neighborhoods to bury stuff underground. BN Riverkeeper has done a great thing by showing that various "green infrastructure" solutions to manage stormwater on the surface rather than solely below ground can be not only cheaper, but also (especially in the case of green roofs, rain gardens, etc.) better for neighborhoods.

So these solutions, including permeable pavement, will save money.

Tim
Tim

One import question that wasn't addressed is the cost comparison between this and traditional road construction. Being more efficient and green is obviously good however die hard greenies never seem to fully explore or even care much about how much this is costing taxpayers in relation to current expenditures. Is it feasible? It could be but only if the city/state can afford it with already stretched resources.

sbrof
sbrof

I biked down many a cobble street. Really not a problem or uncomfortable at all. The best part was that cars would naturally driver slower on them so bike and cars incidents were lower.

Jesse
Jesse

Funny, I see a LOT of bikes in Europe and every city has cobblestones.

The real problem with cobblestone streets is the insane human labor to put 'em in and maintain them. But hey! It's probably a great jobs program!

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

"You know an unfixed male cat is gonna spray..."

300miles
300miles

cobbled streets would be a pain to walk on, almost impossible to cycle on, and if not cemented-in would probably have high maintenance costs.

sbrof
sbrof

Well the question is how long does it take? asphalt only lasts about 10 years in our climate as it is before it starts the quick slide to gravel. If it can last that long than it at least that as good as what we do now.

Allowing the water to flow through the material actually reduced the amount of freeze thaw events that a typical road would have to go through during the transition seasons as the roadway can easily heat up to above 32 degrees via solar radiation.

UB put permeable pavement on the Harriman Quad on South Campus. Been there for about 3 years now still looks like new.

al labruna
al labruna

Cobbled streets would have worked better, possibly cost less, and not need a vacuuming.

As far as the caption: "Maybe if I just watered the City more. . . "

buffjeff
buffjeff

Looks like a NYS DOT crew, one guy working and four people watching.

joey d
joey d

HMMMMMM....Something missing here....OH YA...The PODIUM!!

paulsobo
paulsobo

At the rate the City of Buffalo Sweeps street, fills potholes, plows streets...even if permeable pavements worked in freeze/thaw climates...Buffalo would never vacuum the streets to keep them functional.

Far better to put back the curbs and gutters, let the water drain through the brick and cobblestone.

Dagner
Dagner

Wrong... "Epically". Only $750,000 was provided by the grant.

buffalofalling
buffalofalling

Fail.... Epically. The reason this is used almost nowhere in snowy climates is that eventually the snow and freeze thaw cycles destroy it. If you think the city is going to Adequately maintain this you're more delusional than the average Byron Brown supporter. The ONLY reason the city would agree to do this is because the $3M plus for the project was provided via a grant. If this were truly feasible cities would be doing it everywhere from New England to Minnesota.

Typical Brown.... Trip and fall into a grant and then promote it like its our own idea.

benfranklin
benfranklin

This would explain why he's always behind the podium.

hoss
hoss

I believe this is to cut down on the water that specifically drains into Hoyt Lake. Which is what that new drainage/roadwork was all about there on this section of Forest earlier this summer. So I've heard at least..

I've seen the porous pavement in action in Europe, and it's pretty miraculous during a rainstorm. The highway had no flooding and was almost instantly dry. Primarily done for safety I think.

dave majewski
dave majewski

simply put - pervious concrete merely has little or no sand in it.

we should still focus on, whenever possible, the GREEN component in Green Infrastructure, and all the benefits it brings to the table - when feasible.

And, we should be aware of the countless new "green products" that will inevitibly unnundate this new Green Infrastrucutre market we call "Buffalo". That is a gimme.

Most "products" will be attracive as they are marketed as an easy way out.

It is about a dedication to a philosophy or long term process and NOT some product/s.

But, this news today is a good step in the right direction for BSA and DPW.

dave majewski
dave majewski

Marks is correct!

It does require vacuuming at least. The void spaces must be kept clear and realtively free of debris accumulation. Too much buildup of debris, leaf matter, grit, snow, water.... and then freeze/thaw.... will allow for fracturing.

But, it still is impervious and can be an alternative in areas where green spaces cannot fit - especially on old streets, narrow lanes, and many mature trees.

dave majewski
dave majewski

This is a great stepn the right direction. Anything done to mitigate the overflows is commendable. Pervious pavement has been used in the north, however,there are still structural and maintenance issues with this technology. By virtue of the excess void spaces within the product, yes, ice and snow can build up within it and perhaps cause fracturing. Leaves and solids and dirt, etc.. can get inside it as well. Green infrasture practices require a plethora of techniques for various situations. Green infrastructure practices must focus on the GREEN component - for several reasons.

Pervious concrete/asphalt is merely a tool in the tool box. Dave comerford and Steve Stepniak are recpeptive to the NEED for LID approaches and should be commended here. Excelent job and hopefully muchmore is on the way. This is great progress!!!

marks
marks

This is a relatively new process in Buffalo. In addition to concerns regarding freezing and thawing, the pores in the asphalt that allow the water to permeate to the subsurface recharge bed and subgrade must be kept clean of debris to prevent clogging. If the pores fill (they most likely will on a city street) they will not allow water to the base, hence runoff will continue to occur to the drain inlet as on a normally paved street. This system requires regular maintenance, vacuum sweeping, etc. and salt or other chemicals can not be used with system in the winter in order to protect sub-surface soils and groundwater.

300miles
300miles

I was wondering how this type of pavement could survive a northern winter. From your description it sounds like the cavities are large enough to allow the ice to expand without immediate cracking?

SadLlama
SadLlama

Ok I'll bite... "When you gotta go, you gotta go".

NorthBuf
NorthBuf

I didn't realize that Elmwood village merged with North Buffalo.

townline
townline

Does the city actually put salt down on side streets like Clarendon? Usually - the salt seems to be reserved for the primary thoroughfares.

MrGreenJeans
MrGreenJeans

Won't this also allow road salt to poison more of the ground & the roots of street trees?

Rcc
Rcc

I would think melting and freezing snow and ice may present a problem

brownteeth
brownteeth

This photo just opens the door for a "Best Caption" contest!

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