DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A landscaping project along Central Expressway in Dallas is nurturing yet another mid-day traffic backup on an already busy freeway.
The Texas Department of Transportation is uprooting about five miles of existing plant life on Central Expressway from I-635 to Woodall Rogers. It’s an effort to save money, but it may cost drivers their time on the road.
“They’re removing the tops of the plants and the roots system and the irrigation system as well. Then they’ll go back, back-fill it and plant the native grass,” Cynthia Northrop-White with TxDOT explained.
Currently, TxDOT spends $600,000 a year to maintain the landscaping along that stretch of US 75. Yet, the state’s contract with the City of Dallas recently expired and a compromise was reached.
In an agreement signed in August 2010, the city agreed to allow TxDOT to uproot the existing shrubs and irrigation system, and replace that with more cost-effective plants – a grass that’s indigenous to North Texas. The city of Dallas will in turn take over the cost of maintaining that new growth in October.
“Obviously the economic conditions of the time are pressing down on everyone so everyone’s trying to find the most cost-effective solutions as they can,” Northrop-White said.
The removing and replacing of plant life will cost TxDOT a little over $800,000 and time extra time for drivers who commute that stretch of Central Expressway.
“I have noticed traffic has been bad lately and travel it up and down every day, all day,” driver Tracy Brownlee said.
One lane on the northbound side of 75 will be closed to allow crews to complete the work.
“If they’re looking for budget cuts, the state of Texas is going in the right direction,” Bob Flournoy said.
No one from the city would return our calls to confirm how much the maintenance would cost. Meanwhile, TxDOT says drivers should prepare to break for the gardening between 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the week.
The project is expected to be complete by May.