We hope this Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) list is helpful as you continue learning about different boardwalk materials and the construction processes associated with them. The most popular and relevant questions asked during our in-office presentations and trade show appearances are answered below.
For more project-specific questions or for inquires that are not answered here, please see our educational articles found in our blog, watch videos with answers to commonly asked questions, or shoot us an email via our Contact page.
1. What is PermaTrak?
PermaTrak is a versatile, eco-friendly precast concrete boardwalk system. Our boardwalk was designed to provide a sustainable solution for the common longevity shortcomings and maintenance issues associated with traditional boardwalk materials. It is designed by our professional engineering team and produced in a precast concrete plant where it can be integrally colored and textured. PermaTrak bears on a variety of foundation types and consists of precast concrete beams, treads, abutments, optional curbs and polyurethane connectors. PermaTrak is highly customizable for your project’s design needs, and is adaptable to a variety of different railing and curb types. Please see our PermaTrak™ components page to learn more.
2. How does this product compare in costs with other boardwalk and elevated greenway systems?
As you invariably recognize, project costs can vary greatly depending on the application of a boardwalk material, necessary foundation type, surrounding natural environment, degree of project customization, etc. This is exactly why we've written a boardwalk construction estimate blog article that discusses boardwalk cost ranges per square foot. For project-specific pricing, please fill out this budget estimate request form, call (877) 332-7862 or email us – we will be happy to provide a free estimate for your project.
3. What are some possible maintenance issues I should be aware of?
None! That’s the beauty of it all! One of PermaTrak’s most important benefits is the lack of required maintenance. The system will not rot, warp, twist, decay, lose its strength over time, burn, or require staining/sealing. The inherent durability of reinforced concrete protects against these problems typically associated with timber and composite lumber products. As with all walkway surfaces, if desired, cleaning may be necessary to remove natural dirt and debris buildup. However, the vast majority of Australian PermaTrak precast concrete boardwalks have not been power-washed over the course of 15+ years. In some cases, this “natural” look enhances the boardwalk’s aesthetic appeal as it blends with the surrounding environment. Click here for specific case studies on life cycle boardwalk maintenance.
4. This product looks very heavy, how can I have it installed?
Our precast component weights range from 70 lbs. to 1500 lbs. depending on the structural design requirements. Typically a small Bobcat or front end loader can easily move these components around in the field. The smaller precast concrete pier components (bases, risers, and caps) can be handled and set in place by hand, with weights under 125 lbs. You can learn more through the articles below:
5. How does it stand up to fires?
Steel and concrete are considered to be noncombustible building materials. Other boardwalk materials such as timber or composite are combustible, with either a Class A, Class B or Class C rating. These ratings can be misleading at first, we invite you to read more about boardwalk fire resistance ratings here. The PermaTrak system offers the ability to design a boardwalk in an arid or dry environment, areas prone to forest fires, and designated areas where inducing prescribed burns is beneficial to the environment. For more on PermaTrak’s lack of response to fire, see our Baptism by Fire article about a precast concrete boardwalk left unscathed after a bushfire in Australia.
6. What if I'm working with a delicate natural environment?
While operating in a delicate environment such as a wetlands or preserve area, PermaTrak can offer several advantages to conventional construction. First, where bearing pressures are suitable, the precast concrete piers can be used as shallow foundations in lieu of driving piles or posts. This eliminates the need for large pile driving equipment drudging through these areas.
Second, the inherent strength of the concrete system can sometimes allow for "top-down construction." Meaning, the boardwalk treads and beams can be installed from equipment driven on previously installed treads and beams.
Third, the elimination of field cutting and leeching of preservative chemicals from sawed lumber is avoided as the engineering and layout work is performed before boardwalk installation.
Learn more here: Wetland Boardwalk Construction: Timber vs. Composite vs. Concrete
7. What kinds of foundation systems can I use?
We offer a precast concrete pier abutment foundation system as part of our system. Other systems (typically supplied and installed by the contractor) are those common to traditional boardwalk construction. These include driven piles (timber, concrete, steel), specialty foundations (helical, micropile), cast-in-place concrete piers (sonotube, caissons), and traditional cast-in-place shallow spread foundations.
This article provides more insight into choosing the right type of foundation for your project site: Boardwalk Foundations: Which Type is Right for My Project?
8. Can this product handle a harsh natural environment, like constant exposure to salt water for example?
Concrete has been used for centuries in coastal environments and is considered one of the best materials for such harsh conditions. PermaTrak has installed several projects in coastal areas. See the Osprey Harbor Village project profile for an example of a coastal construction, observation deck project.
9. Does this meet ADA requirements?
Yes, the precast components can be installed on ADA-compliant slopes. The gaps in between treads satisfies the ADA requirement that all surfaces are not to have openings greater than 1/2''. Lastly, the ADA design live load of 100 psf is possible.
10. What codes can this be designed to?
PermaTrak's professional engineering team can design the boardwalk system per several applicable codes, depending on the project's requirments. These may include but are not limited to: AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications, LRFD Guide Specifications for the Design of Pedestrian Bridges, IBC, and local building codes.
See here for more specific information on Boardwalk Design: Loads and Codes.