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PermaTrak® North America is a premier provider of environmentally-friendly precast concrete boardwalk and elevated greenway solutions. PermaTrak systems are engineered for design flexibility, ease of installation and long-term durability.

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Precast concrete boardwalk system for elevated trails

Commentary and photos by Jason Philbin

photo of tall concrete bridge


Two styles of boardwalks on National wildlife Refuges


Traditionally, pressure-treated wood has been used for building boardwalks, piers, observation decks, and pedestrian bridges. In the early 2000’s, composite lumber (manufactured mix of wood and plastic or other recycled materials) was introduced as a low maintenance decking option for designers and owners to use as an alternative to the wood that would rot, split or warp rather quickly.

Over the last 10 years, dozens of these composite materials have been introduced, but the problems of durability and required maintenance are still prevalent. The vast majority of these materials are meant for residential decking applications, rather than commercial trail systems or areas with heavy pedestrian and cyclist traffic.

A concrete boardwalk system called PermaTrak was introduced to North America in 2010 as a product specifically designed for use on commercial boardwalks, piers, trails, elevated greenways, and observation platforms. Instead of timber or composite decking planks, PermaTrak uses reinforced, precast concrete components (called treads). Using a precast concrete material that is completely new to this industry provides architects, engineers and owners a durable alternative to the more traditional timber and composite products.


Photo of tall bridge towers

Beckett Park in West Chester, OH


Project Profile: Beckett Park

Location: West Chester, OH
Owner: West Chester Township
Designer: Woolpert, Inc.
Contractor: Bray Construction Services

Technical Description
Boardwalk Length: 60 ft. and 87 ft.
Tread Width: 11 ft. 3 in.
Color: Melbourne Tan
Texture: Timber
Installation Date: May 2011

Beckett Park gives visitors an extensive trail system that provides ample space to walk, run, fish or bike. A boardwalk was needed to connect these pathways in two locations: above an existing weir wall and through a man-made wetland area. West Chester Township desired a cost-effective solution; weir wall rebuilding efforts would require significant time and money. The second location called for a wetland boardwalk design that would split two ponds and keep a low profile. Woolpert needed a product with design flexibility to accommodate the desired curved alignments of both boardwalks.

Bray Construction poured concrete piers and used PermaTrak’s cap components to elevate the first boardwalk application in front of the existing weir wall. Woolpert’s recommendation to avoid rebuilding efforts on the weir wall saved money and kept the project within the owner’s budget. “We didn’t want to reconstruct the outfall structure for the pond. With the PermaTrak system, we could leave the existing structure untouched, operating as it was designed to operate,” said Bruce Rankin, Woolpert’s Project Director. Bray also constructed the second PermaTrak application, following the curve of Woolpert’s wetland boardwalk design.

Photo of curving boardwalk

Glastonbury Multi-Use Path, Connecticut


Project Profile: Glastonbury Multi-Use Path

Location: Glastonbury, CT
Owner and Designer: Town of Glastonbury, CT
Contractor: Connecticut Carpentry Corporation

Technical Description
Boardwalk Length: 150 ft.
Tread Width: 11 ft. 3 in.
Color: Adelaide Gray
Texture: Sandblast
Installation Date: October 2011

A safe and durable boardwalk section was needed to extend a new multi-use path through a protected wetland area in Glastonbury, CT. The boardwalk required a live load design to account for a 10,000 lb. vehicle (H5 truck). Construction efforts on the boardwalk system needed to minimize disturbance to this environmentally sensitive area. Furthermore, the original boardwalk trail design included challenging horizontal and vertical alignment changes. The Town of Glastonbury needed a product with engineered design flexibility to fit the multi-use path’s original layout.

Glastonbury’s engineers selected a skid-resistant Sandblast finish to help prevent bike tires from losing their grip on a winding trail design - even in shady, wet areas. Cast-in-place concrete piles were selected from a variety of PermaTrak foundation options.

Connecticut Carpentry capitalized on the boardwalk’s load carrying capacity as they installed the treads using top-down construction, minimizing the impact on the wetlands. Not only was the PermaTrak system engineered to meet the live load requirement, but its design flexibility allowed for the multi-use path alignment to be essentially unchanged from concept to construction. “We are pleased with the overall appearance of the finished product,” said Glastonbury engineer Stephen Braun. “It fits very well with the path.”


Photo of low bridge

Hurricane Creek pedestrian bridge

Project Profile: Hurricane Creek

Location: LaVergne, TN
Owner: City of LaVergne
Designer: Lose & Associates, Inc.
Contractor: Rollins Excavating

Technical Description
Boardwalk Length: 24 ft.
Tread Width: 11 ft. 3 in.
Color: Adelaide Gray
Texture: Sandblast
Installation Date: November 2011

Rapid population growth in Lavergne since the 1990s has placed a premium on efficient land use, bike trails, pedestrian bridges and durable greenway systems. Lose & Associates consultants evaluated several pedestrian bridge types for the Hurricane Creek Greenway master plan, searching for a long-term structure that would install quickly and complement the overall greenway design.

PermaTrak’s pedestrian bridges are designed and engineered for ease of installation. Once a retaining wall and foundation work had been completed, Rollins Excavating set PermaTrak’s precast concrete abutments, 24 ft. beams, and boardwalk treads in under two working days. “It was a new product that we thought would fit, especially with the ease of bringing it into the site and quick installation time. We’re very happy with the way it came out,” said Lee Davidson of Lose & Associates. With a variety of colors and texture options, PermaTrak’s pedestrian bridges can enhance the project’s overall design profile.


Photo of curved deck

Judaculla Rock observation deck

Project Profile: Judaculla Rock

Location: Cullowhee, NC
Owner: Jackson County, NC Parks & Recreation
Designer: Equinox Environmental
Contractor: Parker Excavating, Inc.

Technical Description
Boardwalk Length: 70 ft.
Tread Width: 7 ft. 6 in.
Color: Melbourne Tan
Texture: Sandblast
Installation Date: March 2011

Judaculla Rock is a 2,000-3,000 year old soapstone boulder, the Southeast’s largest petroglyph, and a sacred site on a Native American settlement in North Carolina. Cherokee legend attributes the markings to a protective, slant-eyed giant who left his foot and hand prints on the rock. Jackson County Parks and Recreation needed to construct an observation deck in order to accomplish three things: prevent pedestrian foot traffic damage, enhance the visitor experience, and appease the seven-fingered Judaculla giant.

Collaborating with Equinox Environmental, PermaTrak designed a horseshoe-shaped observation deck complete with several cantilevered lookout points extending towards Judaculla Rock. “The craftsmanship and engineering on it made for an easy project to install,” said installer Doug Parker. Non-intrusive precast concrete pier foundations made certain the installation and finished product respected the integrity of the land. Fred Grogan of Equinox Environmental reported, “The PermaTrak system was selected for this project over a wooden structure based on a number of factors. These included ease of ongoing maintenance, ability of prefabricated components to easily achieve design intent of the observation deck, as well as minimal installation costs by utilizing in-house Jackson County employees.”


For more information:

Stephen Beach, Project Consultant
PermaTrak® North America
Tampa, FL
(937) 304-3384 (direct)


arrow See the PermaTrak page in the American Trails Business Directory

arrow Download PermaTrak Installation Guidelines (pdf 2.3 mb)

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