City, GROW roll out freeway landscaping plan

Just three years ago, convincing the state to add landscaping to the Carson City freeway was akin to rolling boulders up a hill, said Jan Miller, a member of Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides.

Now, the state is adding boulders as freeway landscaping as well as contributing a host of other items to help Carson City and GROW make sure the freeway is an aesthetically pleasing addition to Carson City.

"I've always applauded their efforts from the beginning," said Jim Gallegos, Carson freeway project manager. "GROW has influenced the city and NDOT to move in a different direction than we would have."

About 3-1/2 years ago, GROW members started campaigning for a freeway with plants -- not a green garden in need of constant irrigation, but one with vegetation seen around Carson City.

The controversy that ensued in 2000 was simply a matter of state engineers wanting to get pavement on the ground versus advocates for landscaping and a multi-use path, who argued because the freeway would cut the city in two, the least it could do would be to look nice.

While state officials didn't agree to pay for everything, they worked with Carson City and GROW on a plan to make sure the freeway slopes could support plant life and to provide landscaping infrastructure In the middle of it all, GROW's influence resulted added to the development of a state landscaping master plan that demands all new road projects consider aesthetic treatments.

After years of work, GROW members and Carson City officials are hoping to get people excited again in the sagebrush and rocks, wildflowers and trees that will someday grace the freeway slopes.

On Wednesday, GROW with Carson City officials will roll out the freeway landscaping plan for public review. Photo simulations of what the freeway will look like will be on display at the open house Wednesday and in public meetings for the next six weeks. Carson City Park Planner Vern Krahn said public input can only make the plans better.

"Like any good design, the design process evolves the project into a better product," he said.

"The most believable part about it is I think we can do it," said Vern Krahn, city park planner.

The state is investing $9.5 million in erosion and landscaping control including soundwalls, topsoil, a native seed mixture and electric and water sleeves and taps. Landmark Homes donated 184 boulders, examples of which can be seen in the Arrowhead Drive roundabouts, which will be used in landscaping throughout the project. Different seed mixes containing native seeds will be added to different parts of the freeway slopes to account for sunlight variation. Interchanges will be more heavily landscaped than the rest of the freeway/

Carson City supervisors are expected to review the plan July 18.

GROW President Mary Fischer said despite the work to date, there is still much to be done. The city will have to find about $1.4 million to complete landscaping. Marie Bresch, GROW member, said at one point the group was ready to find a way to raise the $3 million previously estimated to landscape the freeway. The group is prepared now to help raise money to see the freeway landscaped properly.

What GROW accomplished "matters a great deal," Fischer said.

"It fits in, won't cut the town and becomes an asset visually as well as functionally," she said. "We never could have done this without the community."

If you go:

What: GROW and Carson City freeway landscaping open house

When: 5:30 p.m., Wednesday

Where: Nevada State Library and Archives Conference Room, 100 N. Carson St.

For information call 887-2363 ext. 1006 or 882-6028.


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