A curb extension filled with plants is seen along Fleet Street in Baltimore on April 11, 2019. The structure is designed to manage stormwater but can also benefit residents and pedestrians. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

When it comes to community infrastructure, many local officials are looking for solutions that serve multiple purposes. That’s where green infrastructure, such as the curb extension pictured above, can come into play.

As the name suggests, curb extensions increase the space between the curb and the sidewalk (or, conversely, decrease the space between the curb and car). In that new space, cities can place many different solutions to fit their needs: benches, trash cans, gardens, trees, artwork—you name it.

When coupled with green infrastructure practices like permeable pavement or rain gardens, these curb extensions can meet multiple needs. They can:

  • Beautify streets by adding vegetation.
  • Reduce flooding by capturing polluted stormwater running off streets, sidewalks and buildings.
  • Improve pedestrian safety by increasing the space between them and cars.
  • Improve street safety by causing drivers to slow down.

When implemented at street corners, curb extensions can do even more. They improve pedestrian safety by decreasing the amount of street they need to cross the street, while also forcing cars to slow down as they make turns.

On top of these benefits, when built at the right time, implementing practices like curb extension can save cities time and money. The curb extension pictured above, along Fleet Street in Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood, was built in 2009 when the sidewalk was redone in conjunction with the construction of a LEED Gold-certified building. By “digging once,” the city was able to save time and money by coupling two projects together.

Learn more about implementing curb extensions in your community.



Mary Gattis

Well said Joan! Other places you can see this practice are Lemoyne Borough and Lancaster City in PA and Takoma Park, MD where they used the practice despite having very narrow cartways.

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