The Chicago Department of Transportation has publicly announced what it says is the greenest street in America. It features the use of photocatalytic cement, which has the capacity to remove nitrogen oxide gases from the air. This form of air pollution is emitted from vehicle exhaust. In the presence of sunlight and the new cement, nitrogen oxide gases can be reduced.
Nitrogen oxides are a health hazard because they can penetrate into deep parts of the lungs when inhaled. There they cause inflammation and aggravate existing health conditions like bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, and heart disease. They might even be related to premature deaths. The elderly, children, and asthmatics are most impacted by them, according to the EPA.
A two-mile section of Cermak Road and Blue Island Avenue is where the green street is located. It also has 30 percent recycled content in its sidewalks and 60 percent of construction waste was recycled.
A new system for diverting stormwater is supposed to prevent up to 80 percent of overflow during heavy rains from entering the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Some of that water is contaminated with human-made toxins and winds up in the Mississippi River.
The new street is also more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. If Chicago can implement these advanced features, there should be no reason why other cities can’t follow suit. Infrastructure projects can stimulate local economies. They can also be supported and enhanced with more bicyclists and pedestrians, as research has shown.
Image Credit: Payton Chung, Wiki Commons
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