Greenways: Engineering Perspectives

12003174_1626857830902219_2694192947194336365_nEarlier this month, Cannon & Cannon was fortunate to be represented as a Table Sponsor at the 2015 Legacy Luncheon for the Parks. This year, Legacy Parks Foundation is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Its annual luncheon, with a capacity of 1,000 people, was sold out.

It was an amazing experience to see so many people come together in support of a foundation that does so much for the preservation of natural beauty and open spaces in our area.

Cheryl Strayed was this year’s featured speaker. Strayed, who trekked the 1,100-mile Pacific Rim Trail alone at the age of 26, is the bestselling author of her memoir WILD. During her speech, she recounted her youth and described her life leading up to her decision to embark on her journey. At the time, she said, she felt less alone being in the wilderness than being in a city full of people. She stressed the importance of having places available for people to connect with nature and was quoted as saying, “I think anywhere that we’re protecting nature and wild places and green spaces for human use, it serves us all.”1

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it many times more: At Cannon & Cannon, we love working with greenways. If you explore our website, you can see our most recent blog, Knoxville’s Great Greenways, and a recent project we highlighted, the Melton Lake Greenway. And Lila, the writer of our #dogtag series, even wrote about her experience sniffing out greenways!

Different Perspectives

One thing we have not stressed enough, however, is how thankful we are that we have the talented engineers on our team who give 100% during each phase of each project. No matter the size or scope of what they are faced with, they are able to look at multiple perspectives of a project to ensure that we can have the best outcomes possible.

Our greenways projects are examples of where this ability is extremely important. Greenways have the opportunity to provide many benefits for a community. They can preserve natural habitats, provide safety for commuters, and provide a connection between rural and urban areas, structuring communities.

IMG_5899Land reserved for greenways can serve as preservation for local animals and plants. Did you know that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency keeps a list of the endangered and threatened species in Tennessee, as well as a list of animals in need of management? The natural areas that greenways would run through can provide an important haven for animals and plants, but it is important for engineers to understand the impact, positive or negative, that implementing a greenway system would have for an area.

Since greenways can provide a connection between rural and urban areas of a given population, it would make sense that they would also serve as a route for commuters. Greenways can serve as a safer (and sometimes shorter) route for pedestrians and even cyclists who do not have to constantly watch for moving automobiles.

Greenways also have the opportunity to connect people to nature, whether it is through class field trips or people taking leisurely walks on beautiful days. Greenways serve as “corridor routes” which “can offer an escape from the harshness of the urban environment.”2

Overall, greenways have the opportunity to structure communities, no matter the reason that people are using them. It is important for engineers to look not only how a greenway system will affect natural habitats, but how it will affect urban growth as well. Engineers have known for a long time that “planners, urbanists and landscape architect see [greenway systems] as a way to bring order to spread out suburbs and rebuild inner-city neighborhoods.”3

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