How to Put Dead Infrastructure to Good, Green Use

A video guide to everything from reclaiming lost space under freeways to transforming old rail lines into recreational trails

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The American Society of Landscape Architects has terrific, informative videos on its site. Their latest shows how to make much better use of "dead spots" in transportation infrastructure, such as the areas under elevated freeways. Those spaces, for example, tend to be among our most dysfunctional, yet with imagination they can be used to begin knitting neighborhoods back together instead of bifurcating them. Other examples include "parklets" in the public right-of-way next to sidewalks and, of course, the now-classic example, making recreational trails out of abandoned railroad beds. Enjoy and learn:

Infrastructure for All from ASLA on Vimeo.

The one thing I wish this video had done was bring the rails-to-trails issue up to date. Many regions are now finding it important to bring rail transit back to those once-abandoned lines. Now the greatest green accomplishments in these civic spaces are not just building the trails, but demonstrating how rails and trails can best coexist in adjacent space. Maybe a followup video?


This post also appears on NRDC's Switchboard.
Image: Dru Bloomfield/flickr

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Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. More

Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. He is the author or co-author of Once There Were Greenfields (NRDC 1999), Solving Sprawl (Island Press 2001), Smart Growth In a Changing World (APA Planners Press 2007), and Green Community (APA Planners Press 2009). In 2009, Kaid was voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on Planetizen.com, and he was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" in 2010 by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. He blogs at NRDC's Switchboard.

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