Thursday, July 27, 2006
Rubber Sidewalks Anyone?
Tires help urban sidewalks bounce back
Rubber panels withstand tree roots, weather better than concrete
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pounding the pavement is getting a little easier on people's knees in many cities around the country.
For reasons of safety and ease of maintenance, Washington and dozens of other communities are installing rubber sidewalks made of ground-up tires.
The rubber squares are up to three times more expensive than concrete slabs but last longer, because tree roots and freezing weather won't crack them. That, in turn, could reduce the number of slip-and-fall lawsuits filed over uneven pavement.
The shock-absorbing surface also happens to be easier on the joints of joggers, and more forgiving when someone takes a spill.
And the rubber sidewalks are considered more environmentally friendly: They offer a way to recycle some of the estimated 290 million tires thrown out each year in the United States, and they do not constrict tree roots the way concrete slabs do.
"As our trees grow and mature sometimes the root systems begin to pull up the sidewalks," said Michelle L. Pourciau, acting director of the D.C. Transportation Department. "This is a compromise between having a beautiful and healthy tree and having a safe and passable sidewalk."
Rubbersidewalks Inc. of Gardena, California, manufactures the small squares now being used on some sidewalks in more than 60 cities, including Washington.
Since 2001, Rubbersidewalks has been grinding thousands of old tires into crumbs, adding chemical binders and baking the material into sidewalk sections that weigh less than 11 pounds a square foot, or a quarter of the weight of concrete. The panels are available in two shades of gray and a terra cotta orange.
Many of the squares have been installed in areas where damage from tree roots, weather and snow removal have required sidewalk replacement or major repairs every three years, said Lindsay Smith, founder and president of Rubbersidewalks. Rubber sidewalks are expected to last at least seven years, Smith said.
Read the rest of the story here.
Whayyda say gang? Rubber sidewalks cost more but last longer and need fewer repairs. Should future sidewalks in Encinitas be rubberized?