Repurposing plants to make room for new freeway

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 09:26:00-04

You may have seen the rows of cacti and plants all lined-up along Loop 101 near Scottsdale Community College.

They’re temporarily relocated for construction, and now the desert landscaping is being moved from the makeshift nursery to permanent locations along the Pima Freeway.

ADOT has salvaged about 1,000 trees and cacti, and considering these saguaros weigh between 3,000 to 5,000 pounds, it is not an easy task. It can take four people almost two hours to dig, move and plant just one cactus.

Richard Adamson is the landscape project manager, and says it is a very labor intensive process. “We're little guys and you’ve got to climb up there and strap them in, and it’s just hard to move,” says Adamson. But it's worth it, because saving these mature plants and trees not only saves money but it also adds to the scenery.

“We get a lot of compliments from visitors who come to the Valley who say your freeways are beautiful compared to where I come from, and we take a lot of pride in being able to restore this,” says ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel.