America’s greenest street eats smog
The city of Chicago installed half a mile of new bike lanes on Blue Island Avenue’s Pilsen neighborhood.
Chicago lays claim to the "greenest street in America" with a new neighborhood streetscape that makes use of sustainable technology from the ground up.
CHICAGO - Chicago, the gritty city of stockyards, broad shoulders and the eternal Chicago Cubs, is building a reputation for sustainable technology thanks to one of its not-so-mean thoroughfares -- what city officials call the "greenest street in America."
On Oct. 9, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) unveiled the project, along Blue Island Ave. and Cermak Rd. in the city's Pilsen neighborhood. The $14 million project includes what CDOT calls the first commercial road use of photocatalytic cement. The material gobbles up nitrogen oxide gases from the surrounding air in a catalytic reaction that is powered by sunlight falling on the road surface. CDOT says about one-quarter of the material for the Cermak/Blue Island streetscape is recycled.
"This project demonstrates a full range of sustainable design techniques that improve the urban ecosystem," said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein in a press release. "It provides both mitigation and adaptation strategies by reducing its carbon footprint and integrating technologies that allow the infrastructure to address and adapt to climate change."
Streets and sidewalks in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago are diverting up to 80% of the typical average annual rainfall from the combined sewer through a combination of bioswales, rain gardens, permeable pavements, and stormwater features like this one.
The project is also designed to keep about 80 percent of rainfall from going into the sewer system, and to cut energy consumption, the streetscape includes LED lighting that makes use of solar power and wind power (that singular resource of the Windy City). Even the sidewalks alongside the roadway are 30 percent from recycled content.
Officials said the project costs were covered by city capital improvement funds, as well as grants from the Federal Highway Administration, and the Illinois EPA.