Update on the East Ballard Green Streets

23 03 2015

EastBallardGreenStreets

Come meet Cari and learn more about this project at Groundswell NW’s Annual Meeting and Civic Social on Tuesday March 24 6pm at the Nordic Heritage Museum.

Project Update:
Big changes are in the works for the planting strip area between the sidewalk and the street, along 11th Avenue NW between NW 58th and 56th streets. A design team comprised of local engineers and landscape architects, Antioch University Seattle students and faculty, Ballard High School students, Surfrider members and community volunteers from East Ballard are poised to construct a series of voluntary roadside rain gardens.

Polluted runoff starts as clean rainwater that then comes in contact with toxins in our built environment, such as vehicle exhaust particles that settle on the ground, oil leaks, pet waste, garbage and other chemicals that end up on our roads, parking lots, roofs or other hard surfaces and flows into the nearest catch basin, which collects runoff underneath the drains found on most street corners. Currently, rain water flows freely down the roadway surface and into the nearest storm drain, and often overwhelms the system and causes localized flooding.

East Ballard contributes approximately 2 million gallons of roadway runoff to Salmon Bay each year through catch basins that connect into one big pipe that empties into Salmon Bay near the Fred Meyer store at the 11th Avenue NW shoreline street end, with no treatment or filtration. Pollution from roadway runoff enters the food chain and affects the health of marine creatures and the people who eat fish or shellfish.

Imagine three Olympic sized swimming pools filled with roadway runoff draining into Salmon Bay every year!

What are roadside rain gardens?
Our roadside rain garden projects, also known as natural drainage or biofiltration, will be engineered to absorb and filter the roadway runoff through cuts in the curb that allow water to flow into planted swales that will drain quickly to prevent ponding.

The group has been working with Seattle Department of Transportation and Street Use to apply for a Voluntary Roadside Rain Garden Street Use permit, while also working with City staff to make the permit rules more accessible by community organizations. In the future, there may be grant programs or other opportunities for community organization or groups of neighbors to apply for a permit to transform their block, and this project will provide information, guidelines and lessons-learned.

Neighborhood history – the “11th Avenue Creek”
We learned from residents and our research at the Seattle Municipal Archives, that an historic creek used to run parallel to 11th Avenue NW, from above where Ballard High School football field is down to Salmon Bay next to where the Fred Meyer store is located today. Prior to 1860, this area was densely forested with several small creeks draining down into Salmon Bay, which had a large area of tidal mud flats and marshes ringing the edge of the bay. One of the creek’s early names was the Lushootseed name for Evergreen Huckleberry, a native plant with edible berries. Evergreen Huckleberry will be one of the featured plants in the 11th Avenue NW roadside rain garden planting plan.

In the early 1900s the creek was put into a pipe as the City of Ballard expanded and was developed. Even on dry days you can hear the creek flowing in the pipe under 11th Avenue NW (please be very careful if you stand in the roadway!) under the manholes that have “BSS” stamped on them.

What is East Ballard Greenstreets?
In an effort to improve urban water quality and neighborhood livability, The Russell Family Foundation awarded Antioch University Seattle with funding to site, design and build demonstration roadside rain gardens in the East Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We welcome any residents from the area to get involved and help coordinate the design and construction process with the E. Ballard property owners.

For more information, please contact Cari Simson, Project Manager:
cari@urbansystemsdesign.com / 206-234-5102

Learn more about the project on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EastBallardGreenstreet

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