Making a first impression

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 2, 2004

Anyone who has traveled along Highway 80 towards Tipton and Montgomery over the past few weeks may have noticed a few changes along the roadway.

Gone are the broken and dying trees that lined the median, replaced with tilled soil and small green plants that are expected to bloom this spring.

Work crews from Bentley Turf and Landscape have been steadily digging and planting along the Highway 80 right-of-way and median from the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge to just beyond the Craig Field Industrial Park.

Email newsletter signup

The end result, says Selma’s Community Development director Elizabeth Driggers, could impact the beauty of Selma for years to come.

“For a number of years people have complained about the look of the entrance to Selma,” said Driggers. “We are realizing that an improved look of the highway could be good for tourism and economic development in Selma and Dallas County.”

Funding for the landscaping project came from a $240,000 enhancement grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation that was presented in 2000 to a joint collaborative made up of the City of Selma, Chamber of Commerce, County Commission, Economic Development Authority, and the Craig Field Industrial Park.

“The project has been in the planning stages for a long time. Now the actual planting has begun,” Driggers said.

The reason for the four-year delay, Driggers said, had mostly to do with the state being slow to respond on landscaping plan approvals.

The work on the highway, if everything goes as planned, is set to be completed by early February.

“We are going to have a big variety of plants that meet state criteria,” said Patty Sexton of the Community Development Office. “There are going to be colorful wildflowers and large maple and magnolia trees.”

All of the types of plants and greenery used in the project, Sexton said, were selected because of their low maintenance and ability to survive on road right-of-ways.

The plants and trees will also aid in screening some of the conditions of the homes and businesses along the route.

“We hope that businesses will spruce up and clean up their properties so the entrance to Selma will look nicer,” Driggers said.

Sexton added that driver should also help keep the highway looking clean by not littering.

“We want people to pitch in, not pitch out,” she said.

Driggers said the cold winter months is the ideal time to plant the greenery and trees because they are dormant and more likely to survive and bloom this spring.

Along the revitalizing the median and right-of-ways, the grant will also be used to create a memorial park just off Highway 41 where residents can plant trees in honor of deceased relatives or friends.

“The plants really won’t be noticeable until the next two or three years, so everyone has to be

patient,” Sexton said. “The flowers are coming.”