Calle del Pajarito Update: Designs for Green Infrastructure

When it rains hard on bare ground in the valley, most of the stormwater pools or flows on top of the thick layer of clay soil.  Calle del Pajarito is a typical local street with paved traffic lanes and dirt shoulders.  The stormwater collects along the side of the street, flows into lower spots or pools and evaporates.  Result: wasted water and hazardous conditions for walking.

During the first workshop and subsequent meetings, the neighbor team selected sites for design plans.  Kurt Capalbo, UNM Landscape Architecture student, consulted with the team, researched ways to effectively drain the stormwater and use some of the water for new plants, then provided the design plans.  Two sites are featured below.

Parking area on shoulder: porous pavers with plant basins

A commercial property on the south corner is impermeable; covered with rooftops and pavement, stormwater cannot drain into the ground.  Water that flows toward the shoulder from the property and one side of the street presents an opportunity!  The dirt shoulder is frequently used for parking cars and trucks.

Design strategy

  • Remove clay soil from shoulder. Fill with layers of sand, soil mix, and gravel.  Cover with layers of sand and porous pavers.
  • Plant trees in deeper basins filled with structural soil to support healthy root growth.  Emory Oaks are shown in drawing at full maturity.
  • Plant Bush Muhly (Muhlenbergia porter), a native bunchgrass, around a wall that surrounds a utility.

Street shoulders: infiltration trenches, walkway, and plants

An area of the street that curves as it enters the residential area floods with stormwater from uphill areas.

Design strategy

  • Remove clay soil from shoulder. Install infiltration trench with layers of sand, soil mix, gravel and cobble rock.  Cover with layers of sand and porous pavers.
  • Install walkway with porous pavers on top of layers of fill material.
  • Plant bunchgrass, Alkali Sakaton (Sporobolus airoides).

Potential Results

  • Stormwater drains through the porous pavers and trenches, increasing groundwater recharge.
  • Native plants provide shade and wildlife habitat, and trees improve air quality.
  • Traffic may slow down (traffic calming) with more defined spaces along the street.
  • The gateway to the residential area is more pleasant and feels safer.

These two sites are on Village of Los Ranchos right-of-way.  A presentation of the design plans was provided by Joe Craig from the neighborhood and Joanne McEntire for Querencia Green to the Village Board of Trustees in December 2013.  Neighbor team leaders are considering the next steps to identify costs and find support for the demonstration project.  Team members have also met with staff from the NM Department of Transportation to discuss a flooding area owned by the NMDOT.

Querencia Green and the neighbor team was supported by the UNM Landscape Architecture Program, Richard Zita, Linda Seebach of the Village of Los Ranchos, and the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District.  Thank you to all of our supporters and participants!

2 thoughts on “Calle del Pajarito Update: Designs for Green Infrastructure

  1. Susie B

    Reminds me of the presentation last year by Brad Lancaster about the city of Tucson’s similar projects that worked great!


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