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Dear PoPville – Is it a Good Idea to Use Resources to Repave Functional Alleys?

by Prince Of Petworth November 15, 2011 at 11:00 am 16 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

I’m hoping you or your readers can provide some information. As you know, Hobart St in Mt. Pleasant is kind of different: no cross streets, but with long alleys paralleling it on either side. Recently, the entire north alley was torn up and re-bricked (I assume by the city). Do you have any knowledge about why this happened, or about whether similar work is planned for the south alley? I’d be curious to know what your readers think about whether this is a good idea. It is certainly very nice now, but seems somewhat of a waste of money given that it was functional before. After all, it’s an alley.”

It’s funny but I’ve always been impressed with Mt. Pleasant’s alleys. As one who wonders alleys probably more than most – I think Mt. Pleasant’s are the nicest in the city. I wish the powers that be paid as much attention to the Deauville/Monsenor Romero apartment building that burned down at 3145 Mt. Pleasant St, NW in March 2008. But back to the alley – I’ll ask DDOT if they can share their schedule of repaving alleys.

Though not related to this situation DDOT did send an interesting press release yesterday announcing:

“District’s First Green Alley Pilot Project Now Underway

Today the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) launched its first Green Alley Pilot Project, initiating construction in an alley in Northeast Washington. The Green Alley Pilot is aimed at reducing the quantity and improving the quality of stormwater run-off within the District’s right-of-way (ROW). The program is being implemented in partnership with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“Our green alley program demonstrates how we are continuously evolving to ensure that our infrastructure and operations remain sustainable, said DDOT Director Terry Bellamy. “The green alley concept has the potential to shape how we design our right-of-way beyond our alleys.”

Although many alleys include a significant amount of impervious surface, most do not have stormwater controls, such as water quality catch basin or grate inlets. To mitigate this, green alleys use sustainable design and Low Impact Development (LID) techniques that reduce the amount of stormwater and pollutants entering the sewer system by increasing water infiltration and treatment on site.

Throughout the United States, Green Alley projects are being used as an effective and innovative way to manage storm water runoff and pollution. In Chicago, for example, more than 80 green alleys have been successfully completed since 2006.

Three initial Green Alley sites are included in DDOT’s pilot program. The sites are located along the Watts Branch Watershed in northeast Washington at the following blocks:

· Alley between 54th Street, Blaine Street, 55th Street, & Clay Street
· Alley between 56th Street, Eads Street and 57th Street
· Alley between 58th Street, Dix Street, 59th Street and Clay Street

DDOT will construct Green Alleys by replacing gravel, impervious concrete or asphalt surfaces with permeable concrete, asphalt or brick paver materials. Permeable pavement has pores or openings that allow water to pass through the surface, then percolate down through a gravel layer and into the soil below rather than running off into sewers.

DDOT estimates it will take approximately two months to complete each alley. Upon completing the work DDOT will monitor these four sites to determine the effectiveness and durability of the materials.”

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