Sprucing up

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Exit 130 to be visually enhanced'

Greenville has been selected to take part in Phase II of the "Alabama Highway Visual Enhancement Program", involving the beautification of the interchange at I-65 and Fort Dale Road.

"Over a year ago, the City of Greenville applied for a grant to participate in the state's visual enhancement program," said Mayor Dexter McLendon. "The state recognized its obligation to make the exits from the Interstate system more appealing."

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McLendon said the program is designed to attract motorists off the highway into the community.

In a letter dated Jan. 5, 2000 and addressed to former Mayor Ernie Smith, G.M. Roberts, transportation director for the Alabama Department of Transportation addressed the project.

"The first phase of the program will consist of landscape plantings at the seven Gateways to Alabama', where Interstate Highways enter the State," Roberts said in his letter.

Roberts then went on in the letter to explain how Greenville would be affected.

"The second phase of the program will target areas within Interstate Highway right-of-ways bordering on the jurisdictions of

municipal and county governments in Alabama," Roberts said in the letter.

"The way the program is designed, Greenville bears no financial responsibility in the costs of constructing the beautification," McLendon said. "Our only responsibility will be to maintain the interchange, grooming and pruning it when needed, once it is completed."

McLendon said the Greenville project was limited to a maximum budget of $250,000.

"The way the interchange looks now, the existing trees on the interchange are in poor condition, and are in need of removal," said Jennifer Stringer, horticulturist for the Camellia City. "The areas planned for ornamental shrubbery would be sprayed to kill the grass and weeds-the area would then be tilled and prepared for planting."

Stringer said the plants selected for the project are very hardy, and will survive under extreme circumstances.

"The trees selected were chosen for their hardiness to thrive in extreme weather conditions," Stringer said. "They also were chosen for their form and ability to create a pleasing southern landscape."

To illustrate what the exit would look like when the project was complete, McLendon compared it to a recent addition to the Interstate many Greenville citizens are familiar with.

"The new exit built to connect Highway 80 to I-65, near Hope Hull is a prime example of what this will look like," the Mayor said.

"Plans are for Claudia Wannamaker' Magnolias, Natchez' Crapemyrtles, Nick's Compact Juniper, Showy Border Forsythia, Hamelin' Fountain Grass and Harbor Dwarf Nandina to be planted on the interchange," Stringer said.

McLendon said the project which will begin this week, is scheduled for completion by June 2001.