WINDHAM, N.H. — Landscapers are planting hundreds of trees and shrubs over one mile of Route 111 to calm traffic and please travelers.
Crews started the state-funded $151,500 job on April 27 at the Route 28 intersection. The plantings, set for completion on Thursday, are the finishing touches on the Route 111 bypass project.
The Route 28 end of the highway, where Route 111 is wider, includes maple, oak and linden trees on the street sides, and rose, beach plum and bayberry shrubs in the median.
That planting arrangement, to the sides and in the middle, gives the section a more personal, closed-in feel, and drivers tend to ease off the gas pedal, state Department of Transportation contract administrator Greg Marquis said.
"It makes the highway shrink and people tend to slow down," he said.
As Route 111 narrows to the west, starting at the intersection of Range and Lamson Roads, the plantings are concentrated in the median.
"For visual interest," Marquis said.
Along that stretch on Friday morning, landscaper Edward Mros of Salmon Falls Nursery and Landscaping in Berwick, Maine, cleared mulch and pulled away soil with a mini-excavator. His son followed with bayberry shrubs, setting the burlap-wrapped root balls in the holes. Many of the shrubs and trees have already opened their leaves.
"Within the next week, the whole length will be green," Mros said.
The plants will bloom with pink, white and yellow flowers this spring and summer, Marquis said.
The last 220 feet of median leading to the Interstate 93 North on-ramp is too narrow for any planting, but flowers, including day lilies, will be planted there.
Marquis said the one-mile stretch of flowers, shrubs and trees will take a couple of years to settle in and starting growing well. The landscaping will be established in seven to 10 years, he said.
The state will maintain the planting for a year. After that, it's the town's responsibility.
State landscape specialist Guy Giunta said earlier that the plantings are salt- and drought-resistant, and will cost the town about $4,000 a year in maintenance costs, mostly mulching and weeding.
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