The Washington State Department of Transportation, in coordination with the city of Des Moines, will provide a “much-needed makeover” to a popular 14-acre green space along Barnes Creek – an area used by local residents for a variety of outdoor activities.
[Above photo by WSDOT]
The agency described this particular green space in a blog post as a “well-loved unofficial neighborhood trail” where people are often seen walking their dogs, running, or enjoying nature with their families.
This natural corridor includes a series of wetlands along Barnes Creek that have been degraded over time by invasive plants. To better protect native plant species and wildlife in the area, invasive species will be removed and wetlands will be enhanced, the agency said.
This project also supports the city’s future plans for trail improvements through this corridor and should also help reduce impacts to wetlands and vegetated areas surrounding streams from the New Expressway Project. That endeavor represents Stage 2 of the State Route 509 Completion Project – an effort to connect State Route 509 where it currently ends at the southwest corner of Sea-Tac Airport to I-5.
WSDOT noted an updated plan for this green space focuses on wetland preservation and enhancement, with the goal to protect what native plants and soil are already there, plant new native plants, and prevent disturbance of the wetland.
Wetland preservation and enhancement at Barnes Creek will revitalize wetland habitat for wildlife and native plants like Oregon Ash trees and slough sedge plants. To preserve the wetland area, the Barnes Creek natural corridor includes four types of restoration ranging from simple invasive species removal to habitat enhancement and planting new native species.
The stage of the SR 509 Completion Project that includes the Barnes Creek restoration work is scheduled to be awarded to a contractor in 2024. At that point, the contractor will develop a detailed timeline for construction and – once construction is done – the agency will turn the revitalized green space over to the city.
State departments of transportation across the country are involved in similar efforts to enhance green space for a variety of communities – efforts that include everything from beautification projects to litter removal.
For example, in February 2022, the California Department of Transportation recently awarded $312 million for 126 beautification projects along the state’s highway system – part of the landmark $1.1 billion Clean California initiative.
Developed in close collaboration with tribal and local governments, non-profits, and businesses, those 126 beautification projects include art installations, green space (such as parks or community gardens) and proposals that “improve safety and promote community connections.”
Designed to foster cultural connections and civic pride, Caltrans noted that those projects should generate 3,600 jobs as part of the governor’s multi-year cleanup initiative to remove trash and beautify community gateways and public areas along highways, streets, and roads. The agency added that roughly 98 percent of those beautification projects would benefit historically underserved or excluded communities.
Meanwhile, in August 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently joined several fellow state agencies to help launch a new anti-litter campaign entitled “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.”
The creation of this campaign is one of the many recommendations made by Pennsylvania’s first-ever Litter Action Plan, released in December 2021. That plan also won a Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for Excellence in May.
Concurrently, in July 2022, Ohio launched a new litter control program launched, one administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation, that seeks to broaden engagement by the business community in its trash removal efforts.
That new Ohio program allows businesses and groups to fund litter removal services along one-mile, one-direction segments of state highways. In exchange for their sponsorship, Ohio DOT displays the name of the business or group on a sign within their sponsored segment.