A Few More Details Concerning Those Plans to Plant Native Grasses in the N. Central Median

OK. Back to the greenery -- or brownery -- along N. Central Expressway. I'll keep it brief, but I did want to answer some Friends' follow-ups questions from yesterday.

This morning I got a call from Assistant Public Works Director Alan Hendrix, who knows more about this subject than anyone. He says, first off, council isn't voting on this next week after all -- it's been moved to September 22.

Now, as to the cost: He says that, yes, $300,000 is the "overall" total, but it's guesstimated that the city will have to cover $100,000 in annual maintenance costs -- out of the general fund -- that would kick in October 2011. Why then? That's when, according to the contract going to the council, the Texas Department of Transportation's gardening duties end, following TxDOT's yanking out the plants going to pot at present.

Says Hendrix, "TxDOT will take out the plants in the median and the planter boxes, especially the ones where they have concrete covering. The boxes on the bridges, which get rained on, they won't come out. But there are some where the only open face is into the freeway, and the only way they would get water is the artificial irrigation system, and since those are being taken out or turned off, TxDOT is taking those out."

TxDOT will pay for the removal and replanting; says Hendrix, the agency "has a project already bid out that'll take out the existing landscaping in the median and replace it with the native grasses." And regarding that irrigation system, Hendrix says TxDOT just had too many issues with it -- either it was getting nibbled on or it would stop working altogether. "TxDOT is wanting to cut their main liabilities and cost and minimize the part that has to be maintained."

When asked if the city thought about just yanking the dead plants and leaving N. Central barren, he says: Nope.

"I don't think there was ever the thought of not doing anything," he says. "There was the option of the hardscaping -- taking it all out and putting something that was somewhat decorative rather than having a stark corridor. And something needs to be done. It's not looking too good out there. It's looking pretty stark out there."

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