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Heated streets and sidewalks are a smart idea for winter downtowns


Any four-season downtown undertaking a street/sidewalk construction project should seriously consider investing in heated streets and sidewalks.  It’s not just the savings on snow plowing and the cracks and damage that come with plowing, salt, and the freeze-thaw cycle… it makes the downtown more inviting for pedestrian and vehicles.

A few towns in Michigan have done this. Most notably, the town of Holland, which started the project back in 1988 using diverted waste heat from its power plant, which it fed into pipes that run under streets and sidewalks.  When the power plant didn’t meet new eco regulations, the town took some slack from environmental groups, and understandably so.

But other cities haven’t been deterred. Oslo, Helsinki, Reykjavik and others have jumped onboard and now benefit from the high-tech snow removal system.  The Dutch even have some heated cycle paths.




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