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Environmental project gets underway in Chinatown

The American Society of Landscape Architects is turning a 13-block area on Eye Street NW into an environmental model for the country. The Green Streets Demonstration Project runs along I Street NW between 6th and 9th streets and the side streets north and south of that main corridor. ASLA, at 636 I St. NW in Chinatown, held the kickoff for the project this month.

Deborah Steinberg, ASLA’s professional practice manager who is in charge of the project, says construction may begin in late fall of 2015 and, in the best-case scenario, finish the same year.

Based on similar environmental projects around the country, Steinberg estimates the cost for I street alone at slightly over $2 million.

The Green Streets Demonstration Project will consist of a series of interconnected vegetative systems and innovative technologies to manager stormwater runoff in an urban setting. The design is likely to consist of native grasses, small shrubs and trees planted on the sidewalk in rain gardens and curb bump-outs, and the installation of pervious parking surfaces.

“We want the project to be innovative, use proven technologies and be replicable elsewhere. Education is a big part of the project,” says Steinberg. “We also want to make the street more sustainable in general. The trees will make it cooler.”

The Chesapeake Bay Trust awarded the project a grant of $47,600. Jen Wijetunga, senior program officer, said the trust liked the project because of its high visibility.

“Many cities are looking for projects like this as a way to handle stormwater runoff. A lot of people will see the project,” she says.

The project area covers not just I St but many other streets up to the Carnegie Library and west to City Center.
ASLA chose the landscape architecture firm Design Workshop as lead consultant. The firm will oversee the project from design to installation and educational outreach.
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