8th Avenue NW – Street of Green

A unique collaboration between inspired homeowners and city planners promises to completely transform a Puyallup, Washington neighborhood. Construction is complete, changing a traditional asphalt roadway, sidewalks and standing water into a green street that

~ infiltrates polluted rain water
~ provides attractive landscaping
~ a curved road realignment slows down traffic
~ is green infrastructure protecting the nearby Puyallup River and Puget Sound

The story begins in spring 2009 when neighbors at one end of the 900 block, 8th Ave NW in Puyallup, took the City up on an offer to install free rain gardens in their yards. These are attractive landscaping systems that double as protection for the nearby Puyallup River. They infiltrate rain water that would otherwise pick up pollutants from roads and driveways. Determined neighbors installed seven rain gardens with a lot of community support. Ciscoe Morris, our NW garden guru, joined the fun broadcasting a live Gardening with Ciscoe show on the block during the community planting event in August 2009. The City Public Affairs office published this video of the planting action, and KING 5 News interviewed homeowners and posted this story the following year.

8th Ave NW Rain Garden

8th Ave NW Rain Garden

The neighborhood so enthusiastically supports managing their own rain water that they installed 13 more rain gardens. This included two at nearby Karshner Elementary School on one end of a three block stretch, and one very large rain garden at the 6-unit apartment building on the other end. This Old House Magazine was also inspired to support rain gardens. Writers and staff created an amazing story of the 8th Ave project in their September 2011 print edition and an equally amazing series of online rain garden resource pages. Click on the map below.

Neighbor labor planting one of 13 rain gardens along 8th Ave NW

8th Ave neighbors were not satisfied with just these 20 rain gardens – they had wanted from the beginning to fix minor flooding problems along the 900 block area. There are only collection points at either end, and rain water ponds along the street throughout the lengthy wet season. So they encouraged the City to apply for a Washington Department of Ecology grant for creative rain water infiltration solutions, which was easily approved. Construction is complete and features of the new green infrastructure street include:

  • 630 foot long pervious asphalt roadway that infiltrates 100% of the rainfall
  • a curvelinear realignment of the road that slows down vehicle traffic
  • 11 attractive roadside rain gardens in the rights of way on either side of the roadway
  • 620 foot long permeable paver and pervious concrete sidewalks either side of the street that are attractive and infiltrate all the rain that falls on them as well

In 2014 the City plans to construct pervious asphalt alleys along the horizontal red lines at the top and bottom of the photo below.

8th Ave NW – Before
8th_GoogleEarth08th Ave NW – After

8th Ave neighbors and volunteers planted the roadside rain gardens as part of a community event Saturday, March 16, 2013.