Pavement to Parks

Last Updated: 7-17-2017Print page

Painted roadway creating a park

Pavement to parks are street-level public space created by reconfiguring and restricting vehicle access to underutilized roadway space.

Slip lanes, redundant streets, and skewed intersections are all potential opportunities to create new pedestrian spaces with minimal physical intervention. Separated pedestrian space can be created by restricting traffic flow in a chosen location with barriers, such as planters or boulders, along with free standing bollards.  

Pavement to park projects differ from other adaptive strategies in their functionality, as they are designed primarily as social spaces that require furnishings, such as tables and chairs, shade, and other amenity features. They are designed  to attract people to sit, socialize and recreate.  Proximity to compatible land uses, such as retail, mixed-use, and medium-to-high density residential helps ensure their success. In the initial stages after installation, programming to activate the space is recommended to raise awareness, and ongoing maintenance is critical to keep the space clean and attractive.

pavement to parks

Pavement to parks are best suited to locations with existing pedestrian activity where parks or other open space may be lacking nearby. They can help to enliven store fronts and retail areas, provide space for farmers’ or artists’ markets, serve as a lunch spot for food trucks, live performances or just provide a space for people to sit outside.

Pavement to parks is an SDOT program, where projects are selected annually based on active community-driven efforts – envisioned, located, and operated by neighborhood organizations including Business Improvement Districts (BID), non-profits, or private businesses invested in the community and able to manage, operate, and maintain a public plaza.

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Design Standards

  • Pavement to park projects shall have durable, slip-resistant ground surfaces.
  • Edge treatments such as flexible bollards, large planters, concrete/stone barriers, art, or other large objects shall be placed along the perimeter of the plaza to clearly define the public space from the street and restrict vehicles. These elements should be tall enough to be visible to motorists, yet not so large that pedestrians are obscured or otherwise unable to see motorists.
  • Site furniture shall occupy the space and could consist of anything needed to make the space usable and comfortable for the community, including tables, chairs, shelter, art, and landscape.
  • Surface treatments and furnishings shall allow for normal drainage within the plaza area.
  • The plaza space shall be free of parking and motor vehicles. Accommodations for vehicle parking, loading, and food trucks should be made on the edge of plazas where necessary.
  • Pavement to park projects shall meet ADA access requirements; installations shall be prohibited in areas that have vertical obstructions, such as curbs, without curb ramp access along an edge of the installation.
  • Pavement to park projects shall provide a tactile guide strip along the edge of the new ‘curb line’ to indicate the edge of the roadway to vision impaired pedestrians.

Design Guidance

  • Bright or colorful treatments are preferred in order to enliven the space and delineate it as pedestrian-only.