Sunday, March 17, 2013

Green book review: Creating Green Roadways by James L. Sipes and Matthew L. Sipes

Can roads become the friend of the sustainable movement rather than its foe? This question is examined in a new book looking at the intersection between transportation planning and sustainability. 

Our green book for today is Creating Green Roadways: Integrating Cultural, Natural, and Visual Resources into Transportation by James L. Sipes and Matthew L. Sipes (Island Press).

What this book is about?

Roads and parking lots in the United States cover more ground than the entire state of Georgia. And while proponents of sustainable transit often focus on getting people off the roads, they will remain at the heart of our transportation systems for the foreseeable future. In Creating Green Roadways, James and Matthew Sipes demonstrate that roads don’t have to be the enemy of sustainability: they can be designed to minimally impact the environment while improving quality of life.

The authors examine traditional, utilitarian methods of transportation planning that have resulted in a host of negative impacts: from urban sprawl and congestion to loss of community identity and excess air and water pollution. They offer a better approach—one that blends form and function. Creating Green Roadways covers topics including transportation policy, the basics of green road design, including an examination of complete streets, public involvement, road ecology, and the economics of sustainable roads. Case studies from metropolitan, suburban, and rural transportation projects around the country, along with numerous photographs, illustrate what makes a project successful.

The need for this information has never been greater, as more than thirty percent of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, more than a quarter of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and congestion in communities of all sizes has never been worse. Creating Green Roadways offers a practical strategy for rethinking how we design, plan, and maintain our transportation infrastructure.

Our review:

I’m not going to say the book, Creating Green Roadways, was an exciting read, as it wasn’t. However, I did find it extremely informative, as well as quite innovative at times with its green road concepts and designs. We all know that roads are a part of our world and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. We also have all been on those roads that are in such disrepair as to be dangerous and then wondering why no one has dealt with the problem. After reading this book, I now have a better understanding of our roads, the offices that deal with their structures and repair, and just how monumental a task it is to keep our roads serviceable, as well as try to keep the environmental impact at a minimum. I had no idea how much went into our road systems.

The comprehensive information about how we can improve the designs of the roads in order to reduce the environmental impact was extensive and well thought out. This book is extremely thorough in the topics it covers. These topics include, but are not limited to: transportation policy, green road design, road ecology, and case studies of projects from all over the country. As a bonus, the book is filled with photos and illustrations, so that you have a clear idea of what they are talking about. I would love to see some of these ideas put into place. A definite must read for anyone in this industry.

You can purchase the book on (both e-book and hardcover formats are available).