What About Bumpouts?

How roadside gardens on Queen Lane improve curb appeal and water quality.

UPDATED (June 27): Now with new video from our new favorite PWD people — Chris Anderson and Tiffany Ledesma. They led a tour of dog walkers on June 23 to give us their take on bumpouts, new interactive signage, and the odds for an official dog park at Queen Lane.

When you say the words “road” and “bump” lately, people tend to to have strong opinions until you clarify that you’re talking about rain gardens.

You may have noticed the Queen Lane “bumpouts” — shallow patches of native grasses and perennials that don’t really look like all that much, but they’re part of a new system of stormwater management that seeks to slow the destructive force of rainwater while restoring neighborhood green space, one acre at a time. Every little bit helps.

Today a small stretch of Queen Lane is buzzing with bees and vibrant with plants. Four years ago, it was a strip of asphalt and concrete.

But neighbors, the East Falls Development Corporation, and the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) worked together to unpave this ground and create a little oasis that goes a long way toward controlling the force of rainwater runoff, as well as filtering the lawn and road contaminants that wash off of roadways after every storm.

Since bumpouts guard the stormwater drains that connect directly to the river,  they are critical in slowing the erosion of creek and river beds, as well as mitigating chemical pollution in the Schuylkill.

These bumpout gardens also nurture beneficial plants, birds, and insects, bringing color and biodiversity to our streetscape.

How Do Bumpouts Work?

Bumpouts are shallow, level basins that funnel water and fill up during rainfall. Afterward, the rainwater slowly drains into the soil, filtering through various substrates before releasing gradually into existing stormdrains.

The plants in these curbside gardens may not look terribly “landscapey” but they are native plants, chosen specifically for their tolerance for periodic soaking and insensitivity to road and lawn contaminants.

Christopher Anderson (Watershed Partnerships Coordinator) and Tiffany Ledesma (Public Engagement Team Manager) of PWD give you a few more highlights about these clean, green filters and how they got to Queen Lane:

A New Approach

Bumpouts are a new approach (and Queen Lane was the first place in Philly that bumpouts were installed in Philadelphia. Go Falls!) Old strategies viewed stormwater runoff as an enemy that had to fended off as quickly as possible — usually into the nearest stream or river.

Big mistake. Directing so much water into our streams and rivers so suddenly tore up banks and riverbeds, destroying essential habitats and degrading water quality.

And the poor folks downstream suffered from flash floods and tainted drinking water. The good news is, BUMPOUTS WORK! As streetscapes develop around our city, we’ll see more of these new stormwater-management gardens doing their best to keep our environment healthy.

WARNING! Chris really geeks out on bumpouts (and we help out with a touch of the 90s, Pop Up video style):

Check Out the Signs

Chris and Tiffany were excited to share the newest development at Queen Lane — interactive signs.

An Official Dog Park at Queen Lane

As any East Falls dog walker knows, Queen Lane is a great unofficial dog park but what about using a small slice of that huge space for an official one? 

So what if it’s unofficial? Doesn’t seem to bother Mango.

Don’t forget! There’s always the weekly NW Philly pack walks for dog exercise and socialization (for people too)! Sign up here. 





1 Comment

  1. Awesome information in this. I never really appreciated what I couldn’t see beneath the ground. Now I really understand their purpose. Not so much about traffic calming as storm water runoff. If you want to put one on midvale in front of our house, I’m good with that!

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