By VHB – Albert Ng, Sharon Ron, Kari Hewitt

Transforming Corridors with Sustainable and Healthy Infrastructure Design

Our transportation infrastructure has traditionally prioritized the car over all other modes of transport, unwittingly compromising the health of the environment and our communities. This auto-centric paradigm coupled with conditions of fiscal and space constraint, often forces us to choose between growth and mobility. However, growth and increasing the livability of our communities can be achieved without compromising mobility by transforming our corridors using sustainable and healthy infrastructure design.  As recognized by green rating systems such as LEED, a balanced approach to development, mobility, and infrastructure needs enhances safety, increases opportunities for healthy and active movement, supports environmental stewardship, and helps municipalities achieve long-term ecological and community health benefits.

The Greenough Greenway Project

Faced with a struggling and underutilized corridor along the Charles River, residents and community leaders of Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown, Massachusetts were determined to transform Greenough Boulevard into a multi-use greenway, offering active transportation opportunities and giving back the stretch of riverfront to the community instead of vehicles just “passing through”.  The project offered the opportunity to encourage residents to use non-vehicular modes of transportation, improve experience of people enjoying the river as a recreation resource, and improve the environmental quality of the Charles River.

VHB worked with the Lawrence and Lillian Solomon Foundation and the Department of Conservation and Recreation to reconfigure and right size Greenough Boulevard, now referred to as Greenough Greenway. We reduced the pavement from four lanes to two; allowed for the construction of a tree-lined multi-use path separated from auto traffic by a substantial green buffer; stormwater drainage improvements; and a generous strip of parkland to sustain the river bank. The path links to a broad network of regional recreational and commuting paths, improves non-motorized access to diverse land uses adjacent to the corridor, and greatly improves an important commuter bicycling connection.

Today, the Greenough Greenway is an inviting shared-use path that promotes the health, safety, and livability of the people in the surrounding communities while improving the environmental quality of the Charles River, all while maintaining a fully functional roadway.

The Importance of Sustainability and Health

Planning for requires more than a specific engineering technique; it requires a balanced and sustainable approach to transportation, the environment, and community health. The Greenough Greenway project shows us how residential and business community needs can be met without compromising mobility requirements.

This approach not only helps us achieve better outcomes, it also makes a lot of sense in our current political and social climate.  We are under increasing pressure to think globally and act locally Simultaneously, the resources required to accomplish our communities’ goals and initiatives are ever more limited. Keeping current and future human, ecological, and economic health and vitality in mind as we upgrade and build new infrastructure will ensure that we are creating long-term solutions for local and global communities.

Take advantage of Greenough Greenway when you are in Boston and keep low carbon transit options in mind for getting to and from Greenbuild. We’ve helped by calculating the carbon emissions for different modes of travel between your hotel and the convention center. Carpool with your colleagues or set out by foot in America’s Walking City!  

Written by: Albert Ng, Sharon Ron, Kari Hewitt with VHB.

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