Most of landscaping on East Innes survives last week’s flooding
By Mark Wineka
Most of the new landscaping on East Innes Street medians and rights of way near the Interstate 85 interchange survived last week’s flooding.
Urban Design Planner Lynn Raker said Tuesday the total landscaping losses amounted to about $2,200.
“They held up very well,” she said of most of the plantings.
Some $27,000 worth of landscaping was invested in the median project.
An unusual amount of rain ó upwards of 8 inches over two days ó led to the flooding last Wednesday of Town Creek in this I-85 area of East Innes Street. The water covered the newly installed landscaping as it created a temporary lake in this highly developed area.
Distinctive Naturescapes, the contractor which installed the median project and has a three-year maintenance agreement, was on the site Saturday to reposition some plants and take stock of the overall flood damage, Raker reported.
Most of the mulch associated with the project was gone, for example.
The medians and limited right-of-way plantings are in addition to a much larger interchange landscaping project, which is still on schedule to be installed by the N.C. Department of Transportation in mid-fall, Raker said.
“We’re very excited about that,” Raker said.
The DOT has made available a separate funding source for “transportation enhancement activities,” according to Raker. It will help cover the median project and required a separate agreement approved by Salisbury City Council Tuesday.The interchange landscaping has been delayed because of drought conditions and a statewide moratorium on DOT planting projects that was instituted last fall.
NCDOT Division Engineer Pat Ivey has since been given the authority to consider planting projects on a case-by-case basis, and the city had asked permission this spring to plant the medians and a few other areas off East Innes Street.
Local foundations and businesses have provided $335,000 toward enhancements in this area in connection with the interchange’s redesign and the widening of both I-85 and East Innes Street.
Of that money, $188,000 already has been allocated, going toward items such as decorative street lights, a Firestone easement for curbing and planting, decorative fencing, irrigation in the medians and rights of way, the median project’s landscaping and the three-year maintenance contract.
Some $155,000 is left for other enhancements, Raker said.
Dan Mikkelson, land management and development director for the city, emphasized to Salisbury City Council Tuesday that the new storm drainage infrastructure installed as part of the recent highway improvements on East Innes Street was not the reason for last week’s flooding.Typically, a storm such as the one Rowan County saw last week happens every 50 to 100 years, Mikkelson said.
“This is not something we would expect to occur frequently,” he said. The problem wasn’t a deficiency in the DOT’s storm drainage system but the fact that Town Creek drains 12 square miles at this point and the rainfall event was abnormal, Mikkelson said.
That said, he noted that an unusual amount of rainfall could again accompany Tropical Storm Hanna, a weather system now approaching the Southeast.