Update: Here is an updated photo of this project from the vantage point of the photo on the left below. It is a pervious paver installation w/ space for planting trees, etc. that can prosper in this set up.
I stopped by an interesting project near the corner of Vandeventor and Kingshighway on my way to the office this morning. It seems that compacted soils and plenty of paving are cutting short the lifespan of urban trees. This project (see pix below) is a way around the problem. By providing some structure around soil, the tree roots can grow more freely and become stronger, longer lasting assets. This will also reduce costs of maintenance and replacement.
Some Laclede Gas people were on site to observe and contemplate how to service and maintain their lines around such a substrate. As seen below the 2 yellow pipes are natural gas and the metal pipe in the foreground is a lead water supply line.
The above images are from: http://www.deeproot.com/products/silva-cell/silva-cell-overview.html and show a side by side comparison.
On another note the infrastructure on my street is falling apart due to age. Laclede Gas has been working - even during the night at one point, to fix a neighbor's gas line that was leaky enough to collect water in it and disrupt appliance functions. Part of this might be explained by the steady stream of water from a leaky water main or service from a few more houses up the street. The images below show the day to day realities of band aid placement on our aging infrastructure.
There is no great way to solve these problems, but I like the idea of trying - as with the Silva Cell study. The rest will happen in starts and fits as utilities grapple with the right balance of service and profit.