In our consultations with planners, civil engineers, and landscape architects we often talk about projects that are designed to enhance a visitor's experience with a sensitive natural environment such as a mangrove or wetland area. We hear the questions, "What if I am designing through a sensitive area?" or "I don't want to disturb the area - can this product be installed with top-down construction?" Meandering boardwalk designs through wetlands or sensitive preserve areas can allow an architect or engineer to provide pedestrians with an up close and personal connection to an area left in its natural state.
Here’s a would-you-rather (one of our favorite ways to kick-start an article): would you rather walk around the edges of the ponds and wetland areas with a viewing platform to look over the water? Or would you like to be surrounded by water as you stroll over a boardwalk through wetlands? Woolpert Inc. and West Chester Township’s recent decision to request an additional section of PermaTrak boardwalk would enable you to do both!
Hilton Head’s Mellow Mushroom restaurant preserves its live oak tree root system through creative construction with PermaTrak precast concrete.
Developing property amidst a delicate area filled with historic live oaks can be difficult to negotiate. Hilton Head’s towering oak trees provide an excellent habitat for local wildlife, making it a requirement for town designers and planners to “limit construction and disturbance within the drip line of the trees,” according to Chris Darnell, Project Manager from J.K. Tiller Associates, Inc.
J.K. Tiller connected with PermaTrak, a premier provider of environmentally-friendly precast boardwalk, through an ASLA trade show in Columbia, SC. Last summer, Darnell worked with Jason Philbin, a professional engineer and PermaTrak’s President, to design an elevated walkway that would run along the back wall of a proposed upscale pizza restaurant, the Mellow Mushroom.
The PermaTrak system was originally specified to minimize damage to exposed tree roots. Existing mature trees provided a pleasant shaded area, but were in danger of root damage from a conventional concrete pavement.
The steel-reinforced concrete treads and bearers of the PermaTrak boardwalk system are supported on small concrete stumps that can be spaced at two or three meter intervals to suit site restrictions.
Two Rocla PermaTrak concrete boardwalks are part of an award-winning foreshore restoration project near the Hay Point Coal Terminal in central Queensland.
BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) exports coal from Central Queensland mines through the Hay Point Coal Terminal south of Mackay which, with the adjoining Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, is one of the largest and busiest facilities in the world.
As part of BMA’s environmental management plan, they formed a foreshore development project team to restore fragile coastal and dune vegetation, protect turtle nesting sites and promote community access to the beach area near the Hay Point Coal terminal land, which is adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park World Heritage area.
Resistance to vandalism is emerging as one of the key benefits of the Rocla PermaTrak concrete boardwalk system.
Although the system was designed principally for durability and low environmental impact, an added benefit of concrete over timber is that PermaTrak treads can’t be removed or burnt.
This was a critical factor for the National Parks & Wildlife service when rebuilding a track at Awaba Bay, on the foreshores of Lake Macquarie near Newcastle. The timber bridges along the track had been destroyed several times by deliberate fires.
The precast Rocla® system helped minimize impact on the environmentally sensitive site at Jervis Bay. Shoalhaven Council considered several options for the elevated boardwalk sections of the path before specifying the PermaTrak system. According to the Council’s landscape architect, Kay Murray, a major attraction was the durability of the steel-reinforced concrete system and the virtual elimination of maintenance.
“With a concrete system we won’t have to replace it in ten or fifteen years,” Kay said. “But we also wanted a system that would have minimal impact on the hilly areas on the site which contained remnant vegetation.”A further consideration was the limited space for excavation. A key feature of the PermaTrak system is its ease of installation and low site impact.
Gosford City Council, on the NSW Central Coast, has constructed its second public boardwalk using the Rocla PermaTrak concrete boardwalk system.
The new pedestrian path and cycleway crosses an area of marine mangroves at Saratoga, on the eastern side of Brisbane Water.
The 83-metre elevated boardwalk features a gentle S-bend and includes a viewing platform on one side.
Gosford Council previously installed a 73-metre long elevated pathway through a wetland area at Kincumber. That boardwalk was built in just two weeks, using the PermaTrak system mounted on support piers made from Rocla® spun concrete pipes.
This pathway beside the Tyabb Airport, on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, is part of a $10 million Shared Pathways Strategy by Mornington Peninsula Shire to construct more than 80km of paths for pedestrians and cyclists.
Although at first glance it appears that a simple asphalt footpath would have sufficed, this particular trail was fraught with hidden problems. The ground was undulating, so the footpath would have to be raised in some spots, which would have acted as a dam for run-off from the airport. Re-grading of the levels, or even building a conventional timber boardwalk, would have meant dealing with a range of obstacles lurking under the surface, including high voltage cables, gas pipes and a water main.