Native plants will result in a greener Central Expressway




Posted on July 20, 2011 at 9:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 20 at 9:14 PM

DALLAS — If you've driven on parts of North Central Expressway in Dallas recently, you've probably noticed the landscape is starting to look a lot like the grass in your yard: Much of it is dead or dying.

But in this case, it's not just the one-two punch of high temperatures and an extended dry spell.

Most of the money needed to maintain the landscape along Highway 75 from Woodall Rodgers Freeway north to LBJ Freeway has dried up as well.

But changes are now being made to keep the medians green for motorists.

Some stretches of the median along Central Expressway has plants that are ready for this heat, while others are not.

It's part of a new landscaping plan by the state and city to plant some green and save some green... the money kind.

"There are certain times when they can plant, and there are certain times when they can't," explained Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Cynthia Northrop White. "So during the hot summer months you know — June through September basically — we don't want them planting."

The plants and irrigation system installed when Central Expressway was rebuilt in the 1990s grew too expensive for the state and city to maintain — $650,000 a year for the city. So TxDOT agreed to take out those plants and replace them with native grasses.

Just like there's little rainfall in North Texas, there's little money left for freeway landscaping maintenance.

TxDOT paused planting the native grasses and shrubs at about Park Lane during the heat, but will resume in September and eventually turn over maintenance to the city. It's estimated that annual expenses will be about $100,000.

The new foliage won't need much maintenance work. They won't require irrigation. They are meant to withstand the Texas heat in the summers that we have.

By late fall, the heat-hearty grasses will be installed along the entire length of Central expressway's median.