Cape Cod Curbing

Menunkatuck’s program of advocacy of the use of Cape Cod curbing in place of the standard high curbing has seen results in several area towns.

In Clinton, the Town has adopted Cape Cod curbing as the standard for new and replacement curbs. Guilford and Westbrook are in the process of approving new standards that include Cape Cod curbing.

Menunkatuck Conservation Chair John Picard and longtime member and past president of the CT Herpetological League, Chuck Annicelli have made presentations to a number of area town conservation commissions and planning boards.

The presentation includes information gleaned from the years of MAS involvement in the Connecticut Amphibian Monitoring Program (CAMP). CAMP is a statewide survey of 13 randomly selected sites that are specifically designed to monitor local populations of amphibians (salamanders and frogs) in an attempt to measure the impact that development has on amphibian communities.

During our participation in this survey in a 2.5 square kilometer area in the vicinity of Opening Hill Road in Madison known as the Podunk site, we witnessed firsthand the negative impacts that the traditional design of roadway curbing has had on amphibians, particularly during spring migration. In many areas it has been recorded that substantial numbers of amphibians have been lost due to road mortality, which is a direct result of poor roadway curb design and road placement.

cccHigh (90 degree) curbing creates a significant barrier to migrating amphibians. Many amphibians cannot climb the curbing and are forced to follow the path of least resistance, which forces them to look for alternate routes. They are funneled along the curb until they find an opening that allows them to continue their journey, or more oft en, are swept into or fall into “catch basins.”

Many other amphibians, wood frogs, green frogs, spring peepers, tree frogs, toads, etc., are also killed en masse due to their tendency to stay within roadways that have steep sided curbs, especially those with pooled water. It is normal behavior for an amphibian to seek a well defined low lying area such as that which is created by roadways with traditional curbs. The Podunk study site is typical and indicative of what happens on many roadways throughout the state.

Studies have shown that Cape Cod style curbing, with its gently sloping surface, allows the amphibians a safer passage to and from their breeding sites. Additionally, as hatchling turtles disperse from their upland nest to their aquatic habitat, they must oft en cross roads. These hatchlings, no larger than one-inch long, are bett er able to negotiate a Cape Cod curb than the typical steep-sided curb. The Cape Cod curbing accomplishes the same storm water channeling functions and pavement edge protection as the traditional high curbing does with a reduced environmental impact.

A typical concern about changing construction standards is cost. However, our reasearch indicated that Cape Cod curbing cost only about five cents more per linear foot than standard curbing.

If you would like to be involved in changing your town’s road construction standards to mandate Cape Cod curbing, contact conservation@menunkatuck.org.