A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Questioning a simple thing, and the answer

Written August 23rd, 2020 by Hasso Hering

This thing, one of many like it on newly paved 9th Avenue, made me ask a question.

While the world seems to be headed down the drain in many complicated ways, I had a question the other day about a much simpler and straight-forward type of drain.

Strolling along the newly reconstructed Ninth Avenue in Albany’s Broadway Neighborhood, I noticed the drains from the new curbs into the swales designed to store rainwater. Drains normally point down, don’t they? But these are tilted up in the direction that the rainwater is supposed to flow.

How come? Was this some kind of mistake?

Not at all, as I learned from Chris Cerklewski, the engineer in Albany Public Works overseeing this and many other street projects over the years.

First of all, they are not drains. In the lingo of street designers and engineers, they are “splash pads.”

“Those splash pads in the curbside swales,” Chris further explained, “slope backwards slightly to help trap leaves and sand from the street before they get dispersed into the the rest of the swale.  This makes it easier to periodically remove the material and extends the life of the facility.”

Makes perfect sense once you know the answer. To see how it works in practice, I guess I’ll have to wait for the first heavy rains this fall. (hh)

4 responses to “Questioning a simple thing, and the answer”

  1. Not Bob Woodward says:

    Note the grade at the top of each angle.
    Cerklewski is awesome.

  2. George Pugh says:

    Hmmm, interesting. I had assumed the purpose of the uplift was to slow the velocity of the exiting water in an attempt to limit the potential of erosion down stream. Perhaps an added benefit of the structure?

  3. hj.anony1 says:

    Greater question is why is the city responsible for these swales that the builders were required to create. Why? $$ going out from city budget. No?

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      As the article states, the street was “newly reconstructed.” Developer[s] pay for the initial infrastructure when built. After that, the city maintains them…


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