Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Rubber Sidewalks

I should be saving this for Friday, but what the hell:

Although making sidewalks out of rubber seemed "kind of preposterous," Valeriano acted on the idea in 1998. Thanks to some partnerships and public grants, his rubber reveries are now very much a reality. Some 130,000 square feet of rubberized sidewalks grace about 60 North American cities, giving local governments an alternative to concrete and its attendant pitfalls, such as rising prices, exorbitant trip-and-fall lawsuits, and a trail of chopped-down urban trees.

"In the early days, whenever you'd say that to someone, they'd just burst out laughing," says Lindsay Smith of her company, Rubbersidewalks Inc., which she founded in 2001 with inspiration from Valeriano's vision. "There would be disbelief at first, because we think of sidewalks as synonymous with concrete."
Better yet:
Each square foot of rubberized sidewalk contains almost one discarded tire. Americans generate about 290 million waste tires a year, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association in Washington - many of which languish in junk yards or are burned.
The sidewalks cost almost three times as much as concrete. On the other hand:
In April, the District of Columbia installed about 4,000 square feet of rubber sidewalk, at a cost of $60,000. The investment, however, may have saved 35 half-century-old trees, which John Deatrick, the district's chief engineer, values at about $40,000 to $50,000 each....Also in the dollars-and-cents category: The district spent $7 million to repair concrete sidewalks in 2005. Beyond that, it is fighting three trip-and-fall lawsuits related to sidewalks.

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