GERMANTOWN, TN – The Wolf River Boulevard Connector has recently been designated by Audubon International as a Certified Signature Sanctuary. The roadway is the first roadway in the world to earn certification in the prestigious Audubon International Signature Program. The goal for the Wolf River Boulevard project team was to design and construct the roadway to limit the impacts to adjacent aquatic systems and wildlife habitat, as well as to promote wildlife habitat connectivity.
To become certified, Signature Program members must implement management of the property according to a site-specific Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) addressing wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement, water quality monitoring and management, integrated pest management, water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction and management, and green building products and procedures. With any type of project, receiving designation as a Certified Signature Sanctuary is contingent upon the quality and completeness of the NRMP and its implementation.
“Because the roadway corridor edged the Wolf River and the bottomland, floodway and floodplain of our northern city boundary, we always knew these two miles would be challenging,” said Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy. “When we began serious planning for its design and construction a dozen years ago, we recognized the sensitivity of the natural environment to the intrusion of a roadway. We also needed to address the routing that crossed a State Natural Area. Through extensive conversation and negotiation over three years, we were able to arrive at agreements to reconfigure the natural area and place more than 300 acres across the river into permanent conservancy as floodway and floodplain. Engaging Audubon International provided us with enormous guidance from start to finish, as well as credibility as we developed a roadway unlike any other in the region. The boulevard is a remarkable experience, whether driving, biking or walking it. It exemplifies what can happen when we rethink traditional road design, in a river’s edge woodland or anywhere.”
The Wolf River Boulevard Connector project involved the construction of an approximate two-mile, four-lane median-divided roadway through an environmentally sensitive area. The roadway cross-section includes two twelve-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction, a fourteen-foot-wide landscaped median, and a four-foot-wide bike lane in each direction. Two signalized intersections, two vehicular bridges, nine major drainage culverts and a pedestrian tunnel are included in the project. This project was locally managed by the City of Germantown and funded through Surface Transportation Program (STP), 80% federal/state and 20% local (Germantown). Connecting this 2 mile section of regionally significant roadway has been on the City of Germantown’s and the Memphis-Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO’s) major road plan for over twenty years.
Environmental highlights of the roadway include the following:
- Design. The project was designed in context with the landscape minimizing overall site disturbance.
- Engineering. A Natural Systems Engineering approach based on the landforms, topography and sub-watersheds dictated the design and construction of Wolf River Boulevard.
- BMPs. Best Management Practice (BMP) ‘Trains’, where separate BMPs are ‘cars’ of the train, are used throughout Wolf River Boulevard. This maximizes the filtration and reduces the release of storm water from the property.
- Drainage. All storm water drainage is directed through treatment and away from the Wolf River through BMPs, maximizing infiltration, minimizing hard piping, and protecting the most sensitive natural resource.
- Monitoring. To ensure that on-site wetlands, streams, and the Wolf River are not degraded from construction or long term use of the property, a water quality monitoring program was implemented.
- Groundwater Recharge. Excess captured storm water will be used for wetland and groundwater recharge along the Wolf River floodplain.
Audubon International is proud to work with such a committed city government and its citizens. “The search for a more sustainable future must be more about action than mere words and must include all types of land uses,” said Nancy Richardson, Associate Director of Environmental Programs at Audubon International. “Through projects like this new roadway and partners like the City of Germantown, we’re re-defining what it means to plan, build, and manage our human landscapes. It is sustainable eco-design and development in action.”
About City of Germantown
Established in 1841, Germantown is located in Shelby County on the eastern limits of Memphis, Tennessee, with a population of just over 40,000. The City of Germantown has one defining goal – Excellence. Every Day. It is a living philosophy practiced in every dimension of city government. The motto guides staff commitment to align performance excellence with key indicators centered on social, economic and environmental sustainability. As a result, Germantown is has earned a AAA bond rating from both the Moody’s Investment Firm and Standard and Poor’s and consistently has one of the lowest crime rates in the State of Tennessee.