City to Study Permeable Roadway and Sidewalk Materials

September 23, 2013 10:40 pm Last Updated: September 23, 2013 10:42 pm

NEW YORK—The City Council Transportation Committee approved a bill on Sept. 23 mandating a study on permeable roadway and sidewalk materials.

Permeable materials can soak in water from storm surges and heavy downpours and ease the impact on the city’s sewer system.

The new bill addresses one of the city’s recommendations in response to the record floods brought by Superstorm Sandy. It will cost the city $19.5 billion to recover from the storm, according to a report by the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR).

The bill addresses one of the recommendations in the SIRR report. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who created the special initiative, is expected to sign the bill within 10 days, according to the Transportation Committee Chairman James Vacca.

“If Superstorm Sandy taught us anything, it is that our city’s network of roadways is extremely vulnerable to flooding and this is impossible to ignore,” Vacca said before the committee voted unanimously to pass the bill. “Preparing our streets with absorptive materials would partially unburden the city’s sewer system and in turn protect other vital infrastructure.”

The city’s Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection are to conduct the study and report the results to the council speaker in less than 30 months. The bill requires the departments to study the types of materials, as well their costs, durability, function, and performance. The report must also include recommendations on “the possibility of a uniform, citywide, permeable standard for sidewalk materials.”

The City of Chicago built a two-mile stretch of roads and sidewalks with permeable materials in 2012. Such materials were combined with wind- and solar-powered streetlights, bio-swells, and pollution-eating concrete to create one of the nation’s “greenest streets.”