The trees were planted as part of Living Roadways, the organization’s signature effort that began in 1991 to improve green infrastructure along major corridors and interstates.
BR Green has planted about 5,000 trees as part of the effort, which is supported by private citizens and businesses, says Executive Director Sage Foley. At least 1,151 trees are located at seven sites along the stretch of I-10 set to be widened.
The nonprofit has scheduled a meeting with Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson to figure out how to move forward, Foley says.
“We haven’t seen the final alignment so we don’t know what is in the path of the widening,” she says. “We have to consider what spaces around the widening will be needed for construction set up. We have to identify what can be preserved and how we will preserve it.”
State officials announced the infrastructure packet last month, saying money for the projects would come from federal Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle Bonds. The package includes the $350 million widening of Interstate 10 through Baton Rouge, from the base of the Mississippi River Bridge to the I-10/12 split.
Baton Rouge Green was in the middle of planting 59 trees, made possible by a gift from Team Automotive Group, when state officials announced the package. The trees are being planted at three sites: Interstate 110 near the Governor’s Mansion, Acadian Thruway at I-10, and Airline Highway at I-12.
Some of the trees had already been installed at the governor’s mansion to little fanfare. But after the state’s announcement, Foley says the organization received several calls from citizens asking whether new trees planted at Acadian Thruway at I-10 were made in protest to the impending construction.
They’re not, she says. A news release issued by Baton Rouge Green calls the planting and the timing of the announcement coincidental.
“We have been looking forward to improving these sites for some time,” Foley says in the statement. The group has about 18 or the 59 trees left to plant at Airline near I-12, she adds. Additional landscaping at College Drive and I-10 is currently in design and should be installed in the spring.