Bracing for the Storms

Oct. 1, 2018
City employs green solution to support emergency vehicles at operations center

The Geoblock porous pavement system, manufactured by Presto Geosystems, offered a green alternative to traditional asphalt paving for 1,200 ft of roadway and two stabilized parking areas at the Gainesville (Fla.) Regional Utilities’ Eastside Operations Center. More than 106,000 sq ft of roadway was designed for accessibility by emergency vehicles and utility trucks waiting to dispatch during storm events.

Selection Criteria & Green Benefits

Project engineer Bentley Architects & Engineers Inc. was charged with finding a roadway solution for the city that not only met all the design load requirements, but also was aesthetically pleasing and pervious. The stabilized grass solution was required to handle load capacities to 80,000 lb (H-20 loading), reduce the amount of fill and be a low-impact solution with reduction of storm water runoff.

The roadway will be utilized mainly for emergency vehicles and utility trucks during major storms. During category 4 or 5 hurricane events in the state, all the city’s emergency vehicles convene at this center before being dispatched to emergency areas. The roadway functions as the waiting area for the line of vehicles. A stabilized surface is critical to ensure that the vehicles do not cause rutting and turf damage or become stuck in the soil.

The two parking areas will also be used as overflow parking for employees at the center. 

Challenges & Performance Results

As is typical in Florida, wetland areas surround the roadway site. It had very soft mucky soils before the Geoblock systems’ engineered base of aggregate/topsoil mix was installed. The ground was so soft that the contractor’s dozer became stuck a few times while clearing the site.

The Geoblock porous grass roadway handles light to moderate traffic from utility trucks and emergency vehicles on normal occasions and heavy traffic during emergency events.  The porous system with well-established and hardy Bermuda grass growth stands ready to support vehicles during the next emergency event.

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Presto Geosystems