VALPARAISO | Valparaiso officials worked hard to make the Ind. 49 interchange bridge at Vale Park Road as attractive as a bridge can be. Now they plan to improve on it with a little landscaping.
The city's Redevelopment Commission adopted a plan presented Wednesday by Rob Szrom of Lakeshore Landscaping for a three-pronged approach to putting a pretty face on areas adjoining the interchange, starting with the reforestation of the northwest section next to the Audubon subdivision.
The trees that separated the subdivision from the highway were removed during construction of the southbound exit ramp from Ind. 49. Szrom said several evergreens about 7 to 8 feet tall and a variety of other trees 10 to 12 feet high will be planted to help block the view, noise and dust of the highway.
Two subdivision residents attended the meeting and asked about putting the trees on a berm to further block the view of traffic or of putting in taller trees. Szrom said the area is not conducive to having a berm, and taller trees are less likely to survive and don't grow as fast as the shorter ones.
The second part of the plan calls for putting a tree, probably a quaking aspen, in the middle of the roundabouts at each end of the bridge and surrounding them with things like barberry bushes, Russian sage, nepeta, knockout rose and love grass.
Szrom said the idea used to be not to plant anything in the center of the roundabouts that would block the vision of traffic. Now it is felt not being able to see through to the other side will force most drivers to slow down to the proper speed to make sure the road is clear before entering.
The third part is roadside plantings on Vale Park and on Ind. 49. With the high speeds of the Ind. 49 traffic, the plantings will be restricted mostly to more quaking aspens on either side of the bridge next to the ramps. More will be added to the approaches along Vale Park "to give people something to look at besides acres of turf."
The commission agreed to provide about $7,000 for planting about 21 trees to reforest next to Audubon immediately this fall. Szrom said the evergreens and the staggered placement of the trees will provide more protection than what was there before construction.
Another $70,000 will be in the commission's 2014 budget for the rest of the plants.