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Stormwater Center Partners to Install First Porous Asphalt Road in N.H.

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
December 9, 2009

Winterberry Lane in the new Boulder Hills condominium community in Pelham, N.H. is the state's first porous asphalt road. The UNH Stormwater Center worked with developer Stickville LLC, the Town of Pelham, Pike Industries, and SFC Engineering Partnership on the installation. Photo credit: Robert Roseen, UNH Stormwater Center

A new active adult community in Pelham is home to the state’s first porous asphalt road, thanks to the efforts of the UNH Stormwater Center in partnership with developers, contractors, and civil officials. Porous asphalt, which lets stormwater drain through the road rather than pooling on the surface, covers all 900 feet of Winterberry Lane as well as driveways and walkways in the new Boulder Hills condominium community.

“This project is a significant advance in the practice of stormwater management, and the developers and town deserve credit for breaking the mold,” says Robert Roseen, director of the Stormwater Center and a research assistant professor of civil engineering at UNH. “It is development strategies such as these that are part of the solution to managing future development in a manner that protects aquatic habitat as required by state stormwater rules.”

Roseen worked with Stickville LLC, builders and developers of the 24-unit community, along with Pelham town planner Jeff Gowan, pavement supplier Pike Industries, and SFC Engineering Partnership to install the porous asphalt road. The UNH Stormwater Center drew on its experience testing porous surfaces at its field facilities on the UNH campus, where a parking lot with porous asphalt supplies data on the effectiveness of this technology in this climate. Porous asphalt has been installed at more than 20 parking lots around the state.

Nonpoint source pollution carried by stormwater is one of the greatest threats to water quality nationwide. As stormwater seeps through the porous asphalt, it is filtered of pollutants like sediment, heavy metals and petroleum products. By eliminating runoff, porous asphalt replaces other stormwater management systems like retention ponds and catch basins. In addition, porous asphalt needs less salt for winter de-icing, resulting in both economic and environmental benefits. 

Porous surfaces also reduce reliance on chemical deicing and anti-icing practices, resulting in significant potential economic savings for winter maintenance and environmental benefits.

Roseen calls the Boulder Hills site, which sits atop a large sand deposit, ideal for the infiltration of stormwater runoff. The asphalt mix design employs a combination of asphalt admixtures to boost strength and durability. Although the cost of producing and installing the porous asphalt road was 25 percent higher than that of a traditional asphalt roadway, the developers saw cost savings by avoiding substantial stormwater management infrastructure like curbs, catch basins, and retention ponds. The development has other low-impact development (LID) features, such as infiltration of rooftop runoff, multi-unit buildings, Energy Star-certified homes, and walking trails.

For information about the UNH Stormwater Center, go to http://www.unh.edu/erg/cstev/.

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