Permission from DOT may allow limited landscaping at interchange

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
The Interstate 85-East Innes Street interchange, where extensive landscaping plans have been delayed for months by dry weather, may see some limited plantings in coming weeks.
The city of Salisbury received correspondence April 10 from N.C. Department of Transportation Division Engineer Pat Ivey that he has been given authority to consider planting projects again on a case-by-case basis.
In response, Salisbury staff asked the DOT’s permission to proceed immediately with bidding and awarding a contract to install plantings in the interchange’s medians and in limited areas along East Innes Street.
The DOT agreed.
Salisbury invited all registered landscape contractors in Rowan County to bid on the project, and the bid deadline is May 19.
Plant installation could begin later this month and be completed by the end of June, Urban Design Planner Lynn Raker said.
“We all look forward to seeing something other than mulch in those medians,” she said.
It’s too late in the spring planting season to do the whole landscape plan for the interchange.
But city staff also requested the DOT to start that bidding process and award a contract for the rest of the project so plants and materials could be reserved for a fall installation of everything else.
If fall planting is possible, the landscaping will have been delayed by only a year.
Given Salisbury’s ample supply of water ó despite historic drought conditions in the Southeast ó city staff had asked Ivey to expedite the landscaping project because of the interchange’s high visibility.
But the DOT had placed a moratorium on all state landscaping projects, and Ivey reiterated that position in February.
Drought conditions have eased slightly since then.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows Rowan County in a “severe” drought category, which is lower in intensity than “extreme” and “exceptional” classifications.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka