20,000 Flowers, A Car Maker, and a Road Caretaker Save the State Thousands of Dollars
Caltrans teams up with Toyota to improve the landscape along the Pasadena Freeway (SR-110) by adding a Harmony Floralscape
When driving on SR-110 near Dodger Stadium, you may be surprised to see the new floral display adorning the landscape on the southbound side of the freeway.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Caltrans Chief Deputy District Director Raja Mitwasi and District Director of Maintenance Dan Freeman, along with representatives from Greenroad Media and Toyota, unveiled the Harmony Floralscape during a press conference held on Tuesday, August 18, on the Alpine Street overcrossing above SR-110 near Chinatown.
This year, Caltrans initiated the Enhanced Landscape Planting Demonstration Program (ELP), which will create public-private partnerships with companies, governmental agencies, and other organizations to improve and maintain existing highway landscape.
“Public-private partnerships are important; they are an opportunity for us to work together to do the job that people expect the government to do and do it in a way that is smart, efficient, and innovative, and this initiative is all of that,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.
ELP allows sponsors to install and maintain highly detailed plantings of drought tolerant shrubs, ground cover and annual and perennial flowers along the freeway.
“The ELP creates a win-win situation for everyone,” said Mitwasi. “The city will benefit from improved landscape, Caltrans can redirect resources to focus on other maintenance projects in the district, and save tax dollars.”
“When most people think of Caltrans, large cement overpasses, black asphalt, gray cement, and orange colored vehicles may come to mind,” he added. “Caltrans is much more than that. We are a community partner.”
Toyota’s new Floralscape is one of nine floral designs that will appear alongside California freeways in support of the ongoing launch of the 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle. Seven of the Floralscapes will be in the Los Angeles area and two in the San Francisco area. Developed by Greenroad Media, Inc., using the company’s patent-pending “Living Pixel” technology, design images are replicated using flowers of differing varieties and colors.
The 30x60’ Toyota Prius “Harmony Floralscapes” are comprised entirely of living seasonal flowers. The flowers used in each Floralscape – about 20,000 blooms in total – are grown by local businesses in special modular “Eco-crates” made from recycled plastic. Several different designs have been developed, and the displays will be changed and updated several times during the next four months.
This fledgling project will allow other interested parties to design and plant themed landscapes to improve the overall look and appeal of the freeway landscape in Los Angeles and other cities in California.
As a benefit to the State and California’s motorists, sponsors will maintain a minimum of three acres of existing landscape around the floral display at no cost to Caltrans.
Sponsors will protect slope stability, upgrade irrigation systems and improve overall highway corridor aesthetics. The new plantings will use the latest irrigation technology and utilize stringent water management techniques to provide for an attractive roadside with limited water consumption.
Flower power is back
This innovative idea was brought to life in 1994 by legislation authored by then Assemblymember Richard Katz, who is now the Director of Greenroad Media.
“We appreciate Caltrans, the work they did and their ability to recognize the vision and support it,” said Katz. “Our local partners [Caltrans and the City of Los Angeles] have been ready and willing [to take part] from day one.”
To sum up the day’s event and the magnitude of the ELP, Mayor Villaraigosa said, “I don’t care what anyone says, flower power is back. These floralscapes are not just easy on the eyes, they are easy on the environment as well.”