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Sen. Vitter center stage at ICPI permeable paver demonstration

The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) and 30-plus Louisiana concrete paver industry representatives welcomed U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) last month for a product demonstration and briefing session at New Orleans’ Wilson Charter School.

“ICPI hosted the event in large part to thank the Senator for his crucial work in adding a permeable pavements provision in the Senate version of the Transportation Reauthorization Bill,” notes ICPI Chairman-elect, David Pitre. The bill is currently working its way through Congress, and Senator Vitter is a member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, key to passage in the upper chamber.

Charles Montgomery, AIA, ASLA, Principal, HMS Architects and lead Wilson Charter designer, responded to Senator Vitter’s questions regarding permeable pavers as part of the sustainability specifications for the LEED Gold-certified project. To underscore performance characteristics of the school’s installation, ICPI representatives performed a simulated ASTM surface infiltration test, demonstrating tremendous stormwater management utility—an important benefit in most locations but especially low-lying New Orleans.

ICPI also briefed the Senator on other public policy benefits offered by concrete pavers, including the rapid ability to conduct repairs and dovetail with green construction/landscaping. The event also carried what the institute describes as a strong political message: There is a growing, vocal, and focused concrete paver constituency and industry. The constituency merits his attention, protection and advancement as ICPI seeks to integrate the use of concrete pavers into federal public policy.

“Through events such as the Vitter briefing in New Orleans, ICPI is working diligently to bring concrete pavers and their industry representatives to top-of-mind among key policy players in Washington, D.C. ICPI is doing so with a highly efficient, targeted strategy,” says Executive Director Charles McGrath.

Senator Vitter was generous with his time and engaged the industry attendees with probing questions, he adds, and left the event with a much clearer understanding of how concrete pavers can play an important role in integrating stormwater management and green infrastructure in federal, state and local policy. The Senator pledged to do all he can to advance and retain the permeable pavements provision in the final House-Senate version of the Transportation Reauthorization.

The ICPI-drafted provision would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to conduct technology transfer programs that overcome institutional barriers to adoption and encourage state and municipal governments to adopt permeable pavements.