From reporter Mike Archbold
Question: State Route 16 users may have been wondering about a landscaping project that’s been happening over the past month or so. Eric Dooley of Gig Harbor wrote in questioning the project:
“Is anyone else troubled that during a recession they are putting beauty bark on the side hills of Hwy 16 between 6th Ave and 19th?” he asked in an e-mail. “Is there no better way to spend money during economic hard times?”
Among others scratching their heads was state Rep. Larry Seaquist of Gig Harbor who asked the Washington State Department of Transportation why it was spreading mulch on the roadside along SR 16, an area that was hydro-seeded just three years ago.
Answer: According to WSDOT Olympic Region Administrator Kevin Dayton’s reply to Seaquist, WSDOT hydro-seeded this bare hillside as a temporary measure to provide necessary ground cover to prevent erosion and maintain water quality standards. The weeds and grasses that grew up over the last three years recently were treated with a herbicide to prepare the slopes for compost and bark mulch.
The comprehensive roadway landscape plan based on requirements of the January 2000 Environmental Impact Statement for the SR 16 corridor called for covering the hillside at a later date with compost and bark mulch that help ensure the survival of trees and shrubs, which will be planted beginning in November.
The landscaping project is funded by the 2003 nickel gas-tax package and is part of the larger corridor improvements, which started in 2002 with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
In an e-mail to The News Tribune after hearing from Dayton, Seaquist said the work appears to be sound planning.