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10 Ideas for a Green Transportation Infrastructure


The East Coast Greenway is nothing if not ambitious. An ongoing effort, the East Coast Greenway is an attempt to create a continuous network of trails for use by bicyclists and pedestrians from Maine to Florida; think of it as a sort of Appalachian Trail outside of the woods. Although only about one quarter of it exists right now in the form of trails dedicated for non-motorized transportation, efforts like the East Coast Greenway are quintessential green transportation infrastructure initiatives: providing opportunities for those not in cars to get around and in between towns and, in this case, even states. Obviously, not all greenways -- which are literally corridors of undeveloped land, often in the form of pedestrian-oriented paths around cities or towns -- all are as encompassing as one that snakes up the entire Atlantic seaboard.

In Atlanta, for instance, a quasi-greenway approach is being used to push for what is called the BeltLine, a 22-mile (35.41 kilometer) corridor that incorporates parks, trails and public transportation along with commercial and residential development. It is part of an effort to better manage the city's planning in such a way to avoid more car-oriented sprawl. Robby Bryant worked with HDR Engineering, the company that designed the first 5 acres of the BeltLine, and says that this holistic approach also provides important opportunities beyond just transportation.

The company worked with the city and residents in order to take a storm water retention pond into the focal point of a park, which is part of the BeltLine. Instead of a system to sewers and tunnels, Bryant and his colleagues simultaneously prevented storm runoff while creating such features as a 40-foot (12.19 meter) waterfall. "The overriding goal of the project was to provide flood protection that went beyond the utilitarian," says Bryant. "The park and pond have actually become a destination, which is not something you would typically equate with a retention pond."

Go the next page to discover what happens when bikes get a place of their own.