ADOT saving greenery as part of freeway expansion project

Arizona Department of Transportation crews are working to salvage more than 1,000 Palo Verde trees, Saguaros and Ocotillo cacti and other plants and brush along Pecos Road as the South Mountain freeway project gets underway.

"First of all, we have to identify what trees are out there and then we have to look to determine which trees are salvageable and then we have to actually come out here and do the actual work," Dustin Krugel said. "One tree alone can take almost four workers cutting away at those roots, so it's a very labor-intensive work, but it's very important to us."

ADOT is creating a nursery where the trees and plants will be stored for three years where they will be cared for and watered.

"And then once we're done with the freeway mainline construction, we'll come back and transplant these freeways back to some of their original locations,"Krugel said.

ADOT recently transported more than 400 saguaros along the Loop 101 Pima freeway widening project in the east valley.

"This is something that a long time ago that we didn't have much experience," Krugel said. "We used to do freeway construction and remove all the trees, but we take a lot of pride in this work. We hear a lot of comments from visitors to the valley commenting how beautiful our freeways are and it has a lot to do with all these native desert plants that we have along our freeways."

The new South Mountain freeway will run from Interstate 10 and Loop 202 in the east valley and will connect to the west valley at I-10 and 59th Avenue.