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Rethinking the Nature of Asphalt Streets

LA is feeling the heat from Climate Change, and it’s setting out to do something about it. Not only is city concentrating on growing its tree canopy, which offers shade to residents and helps to bring temperatures down, it’s also experimenting with “cool pavements”. Already a number of city streets are being coated with a white sealant, which intends to combat “heat islands” partially caused by black asphalt streets that retain the sun’s heat, causing temperatures to rise. 

There is a downside to using the sealants, unfortunately – scientists are currently weighing the effects of the greenhouse gases used to manufacture and apply the sealant, compared to the noticeable lower temperatures that have been felt in areas where the experiment is underway.

DailyMail has the full story.

Ultimately, the hope would be to create lighter colored asphalt, or a more earth friendly sealant. Either way, the future of asphalt looks brighter, and could someday help to bring urban temperatures down.

For years, I’ve wondered about the possibility of creating a lighter “brick colored” asphalt for Buffalo, mostly for aesthetic appeal. The color would mimic the cobblestone streets that once graced this city. There could even be a brick patterned “stamp” applied to the surface. The lighter color would not absorb the sun’s heat as much, and the appearance would be a welcome change from the hot black asphalt that we have come to take for granted. Daily Mail’s “Cool Pavements” article got me to thinking that maybe something of this nature might be possible, and lo and behold, someone came across a street in San Francisco that had received a “faux cobblestone” treatment (see here).

The red cobble application would complement the historic nature of neighborhoods such as Allentown. BRO readers are always asking about converting certain streets back to cobblestone – this could be the answer. Back in 2013 residents of Ardmore Place discovered that during a street repaving a number of its historic cobblestones were left exposed. Neighbors rallied together to reclaim the historic nature of the street (see here). Today, it is one of the most beautiful street in Buffalo.

Back in 2012, The City of Buffalo experimented with pervious pavement on Clarendon Place in North Buffalo. The intention was to combat storm water runoff, to alleviate the water flooding into the city’s combined sewer overflow system, resulting in raw sewage emptying into Lake Erie. At the time, The City declared the project a success, but since the initial experiment, there has been no word regarding how the street performed over a longer duration of time.

I would venture to guess that Buffalo’s streets will, someday, be something other than standard asphalt. It’s not going to be tomorrow, or even ten years from now, but there will be a time that we reexamine the way our streets affect our immediate environment. Ultimately, it’s most likely going to be a national measure that will dictate changes in city streets throughout the nation.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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