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Grating Protecting Downtown Areas

April 16, 2012

Sidewalks are a common piece of transportation infrastructure, and it is important that public entities and city governments observe code requirements to provide a safe walking surface for all.  Municipalities are noticing that safe, appealing, tree-lined pedestrian street environments are encouraging healthy living through physical activity and supporting downtown area development.  Designing streetscapes to incorporate trees and direct storm water while providing pedestrian safety, can prove to be a challenge.

Integrating tress into downtown areas is not a new concept, but as municipalities grow and re-develop a conscious effort is being made to preserve existing and create new urban forests.  Tree grates are one means to incorporate trees into sidewalks, allowing shade and temperature relief for pedestrians.  Without the tree grate, an open well in the sidewalk where the tree is planted is a hole that invites trip and fall hazards.  The grating also allows for natural irrigation of trees while simultaneously providing a bridge over muddy conditions.

Any grating inset into sidewalk is required to comply with ADA standards; ensuring that mobility devices do not get trapped in openings, which can be no larger than ½ inch across.  Some older grates have two to three inch “slots” that can collect street litter, catch high heels, and encourage trips and falls. Specifying an ADA compliant tree grate will ensure a higher level of pedestrian safety.

Main street sidewalks and downtown business districts get a large volume of pedestrian traffic, durability is essential.  Damage from foot traffic, bicycles, baby strollers, as well as maintenance, snow removal, and cleaning can all contribute to wear and tear of grating materials.  Aluminum grating is an ideal choice for these applications due to its durability and lightweight properties.

For years cities have incorporated storm drains and trench grating as solutions to slippery conditions created by excess water collecting along streets and in sidewalk areas. Until recently it was hidden in engineering, but today in many places it is being recognized as a design element. Some cities are selecting special shapes and sizes to reflect or coordinate with surrounding building design; others are having corporate or city logos incorporated into the design of the castings. SlipNOT® coating can be applied after these castings have been made to provide additional slip resistance and pedestrian safety in these high traffic areas.

SlipNOT® grating options are being incorporated in many downtown and main street areas in walkways, storm drains, and store entrances. Their coating has been added by commercial retailers to tree grating specifications to provide aesthetic appeal as well as pedestrian safety.

McGraw Hill Construction. “Pedestrian Friendly: Planting Trees and Celebrating Stormwater in Urban Areas”. http://continuingeducation.construction.com/article_print.php?L=149&C=469

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