SCOTTSDALE – Drivers on the now-wider Loop 101 (Pima Freeway), where new lanes have been added south of Shea Boulevard, may also have noticed construction crews working in recent months to transplant large saguaros, other cactuses and trees that had temporarily been stored in nurseries near the freeway. Many of the tall saguaros have been around longer than Arizona has been a state.
As part of the Arizona Department of Transportation's $74 million project to improve an 11-mile stretch of Loop 101 between Shea Boulevard and Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway), the project team early on salvaged more than a thousand plants. That includes approximately 400 saguaros that are now back as part of the desert-based landscaping next to the freeway.
ADOT worked closely with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the city of Scottsdale on the plans for salvaging, storing and transplanting the cactuses and other plants, including thorny ocotillos and ironwood trees.
“This restoration work is challenging but also very rewarding because many of the saguaros are more than a hundred years old and it’s great to have them in place as an iconic symbol of Arizona,” said ADOT Landscape Construction Supervisor Richard Adamson.
The plant-restoration work next to Loop 101 ramped up this summer, with crews using heavy equipment to transport individual plants from each of the nurseries to a location mapped out for their replanting. In addition to the plants that were saved over the last two years, crews also are adding approximately 10,000 new shrubs, trees and cactuses along the freeway.
“We’ve learned a lot over the years about including plant restoration in our freeway-improvement projects,” said Madhu Reddy, district engineer for ADOT’s Central Construction District in Phoenix. “Local communities support these efforts and we receive compliments from local residents and Valley visitors who like what they’re seeing.”
For more information about the Loop 101 project, visit azdot.gov/Loop101.