Power Company Builds Sustainable Road through Protected Dunes with GreenPave

In GreenPave™, Soil Stabilization, Unpaved Roads by Frank ElswickLeave a Comment

Power lines belonging to a utility provider based in Southern California ran through a protected dune system in Nipomo and Lompoc, and the company needed a stable path to access and clean them. Midwest was able to create an access road that could bear the load of heavy vehicles without impacting the dunes and the wildlife that inhabited them.

Southern California’s sand dunes feature both dazzling scenery and dozens of endangered plant and animal species, which is why many of them are designated wildlife refuges. While the protection of these sites from human interference is crucial, power lines must sometimes be run through them in order to provide nearby homeowners with electricity. For the utility companies that must build and maintain these lines, these sandy, protected areas can present a significant challenge.

One utility provider has a right of way through protected dunes in the cities of Nipomo and Lompoc in order to clean power lines. However, regulations enforced by the California Coastal Commission prevented it from building a traditional road along that right of way. Vehicles carrying the heavy machinery required to blast dirt, dust, and salt off the lines had to be towed in by a dozer or they’d sink into the soft sand. To top it all off, meteorologists were expecting an intense El Nino, meaning that the entire route was endangered by a potential major rain event.

Seeking a solution that would stabilize the path towards its power lines without violating any of the strict regulations that protect the dunes, the power company reached out to Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc.

A Line in the Sand

The challenges Midwest faced in creating a traversable path to the utility company’s power lines were threefold: it had to look and feel natural, have zero impact on wildlife, and be completed before a predicted rain event.

The pathway would have to not only be built sustainably with native soils — rather than hauled-in aggregate — but look as little like a traditional road as possible. The dunes tend to attract all-terrain vehicle (ATV) enthusiasts, and a road into the protected area might encourage trespassing.

The dune system also hosts over a hundred imperiled animal species and over two dozens kinds of imperiled plants. In order to avoid heavy fines, every aspect of the road-building solution — from its chemical makeup to its method of implementation — had to be carefully planned so as to avoid endangering any of the birds, animals, or plants that thrived in the ecosystems supported by the dunes.

Finally, the threat of flooding brought by El Nino narrowed the time frame in which Midwest had to work — heavy rain could halt the project and prohibit practically all access to the dunes at any moment. The right of way needed long-term erosion protection, but as concerns of a major rain event built, that need was becoming more and more immediate.

Road to Power

Midwest built a naturally paved road to these power lines using GreenPave™, an innovative soil stabilization solution that creates and improves strength by chemically binding in-place soils. Natural paving is environmentally sustainable, requires less digging and ecological disruption, and is more affordable than traditional paving methods.

The Coastal Commission even sent a botanist to ensure that Midwest carried out the project in the least disruptive way possible. The road was completed without negatively impacting any of the dunes’ many delicate ecosystems, pleasing the Commission and protecting the utility company from regulatory fines.

The road also experiences zero ATV traffic because it was designed to blend naturally with the surrounding dunes, rather than welcome or encourage passersby to use it as an access route to the protected area. Taking note of the immediate success of the project, the power company has contracted Midwest to build three more roads using the same technology.

Midwest is proud to offer solutions that are affordable, customized to the needs of its clients, and crucially, able to meet the highest standards of environmental sustainability. To find out more about Midwest and our natural paving solutions and products, contact us today.

Midwest is proud to offer solutions that are affordable, customized to the needs of its clients, and crucially, able to meet the highest standards of environmental sustainability. To find out more about Midwest and our natural paving solutions and products, contact us today.

Frank is the sales unit manager of Midwest's road construction and natural paving markets.

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