The company that publishes The Municipal, The Papers Incorporated, also publishes a number of other newspapers and magazines. For an article for another one of them, I had cause recently to stop at a small-town service station and inquire about the origins of the historic building. I was told that it was constructed in the early 1900s by one of the brothers of The Papers’ first publisher. For construction materials the builder used salvaged bricks and other items from a defunct hotel. At the time it was likely economic circumstances that directed the decision, but similar decisions have since become vogue.
It’s interesting, to me, to think about how ideas and processes are constantly being traded in for what’s supposedly newer and better, only to be revisited when their value is rediscovered. Nowadays recycled materials, along with anything deemed “sustainable” or “green,” are desirable and preferred in construction processes. While the last few decades have certainly produced valuable innovations, it’s encouraging to see them integrated with what we now know were wise ones from the past.
Taking reuse to a whole new level are DOTs that are offering unusually large used products: entire historic bridges. Recently available for relocation from Missouri, for example, were eight historic bridges, accompanied by funds equaling up to 80 percent of what the cost would have been to demolish them. The program was started in 1987 and is in place in most states, although it’s not always well marketed. For one good idea on how to get the word out, consider contacting Toni Prawl, MoDOT Design Division, Historic Preservation Section, or visit www.modot.org/freebridges and take a look around.
“Reduce, reuse, recycle” is our theme for the month. In this issue we discuss several programs and processes that are saving money or the environment, and sometimes both. One of those, “PEV infrastructure: Get ready,” has ideas for increasing your city’s level of preparedness to support the widespread use of plug-in electric vehicles. Another, “Solar panel fires,” brings up some points to consider — and to educate the public on — regarding the potential solar panel fire hazards and techniques for suppressing such fires.
Take care and stay safe.