Edwardsville Greenway Project

Picture of greenway trail along the Delyte W. Morris greenway. Trees and other vegetation surround the trail and a bike is leaned up against a railing along the edge. Photo by Shannon McCarragher.

Delyte W. Morris Greenway. Photo by Shannon McCarragher.

About the Project

The Edwardsville Greenway Project explores the environmental and social impacts of the Delyte W. Morris Greenway in Edwardsville, Illinois. In the future, we aim to expand this project to incorporate other greenways in and around the Edwardsville area. The overarching goals of our Collaborative are to broaden our academic understanding of the socio-ecological role of greenways in urban environments, provide a creative interdisciplinary research experience for undergraduate and graduate students broadly interested in scientific and policy careers, and engage policymakers and residents in their local communities with the goal of helping cities develop and sustain their greenspaces in an ecologically resilient and socially equitable manner.

Why Edwardsville, IL?

Edwardsville provides a unique setting for a pilot assessment of greenways, given its size, on-going planning discussions about greenway expansion projects, and its current extensive regional network of separated Class One bikeways (a.k.a greenways) developed and maintained by the Madison County Transit (MCT). Its close proximity to the larger St. Louis region, which has 128 miles of greenways and counting, allows us to test the scalability of our project to other cities, while collecting relevant pilot data for future studies.

Segment of the Delyte W. Morris Greenway, which runs through the Southern Illinois University campus. Photo by Shannon McCarragher.

Research Questions

• How do urban structure, urban cover, and anthropogenic disturbance influence the variability of the Urban Canopy Layer microclimate (e.g. temperature, relative humidity, etc.) across the greenway?
• How does greenway microclimate variability compare to non-greenway sites?
• How do greenway usage patterns vary along the greenway (e.g. traffic counts, activity types, etc.)?
• How do plant biodiversity, vegetation stand structure, and invasive plant abundance vary along and away from the greenway?
• How do soil physical properties vary along and away from the greenway?

Research Design

Nine environmental sensors will be set up along the Delyte W. Morris Greenway to record temperature and relative humidity data for at least one year (see video for more details about the sensors). Portable Kestrel 5500 weather stations will be used to gather additional atmospheric and environmental variables in and around the area. Researchers will track environmental data, while also recording usage patterns 5 times a week (Monday-Friday) at set points along the greenway. While conducting greenway observations, researchers will not approach or ask questions of folks on the greenway. We’re simply interested in how folks are using the greenway (ex. walking, running, biking, etc). In addition to collecting environmental and usage pattern data, researchers will be conducting vegetation plot and transect surveys and collecting soil samples to characterize the vegetation biodiversity and the physical properties of the soils found along the greenway.

The study has met the criteria for IRB and IACUC exemptions with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). Additional precautions were taken to verify that the sampling portions of the Edwardsville Greenway Project do not take place on archaeological sites and are not in violation of cultural resource laws. The project has also been approved by the Academic Land Use Committee (ALUC) at SIUE.

For more information about the Edwardsville Greenway Project: