Adding landscaping to medians can make a road corridor look better, but the Blaine City Council wonders if the maintenance headaches are worth it.
Public Services Manager Robert Therres said some landscaped medians such as the one on Rice Creek Parkway have been around for about 20 years, while the Radisson Road median from 101st to 125th avenues is a decade old. The 109th median from Davenport/Club West Parkway to Radisson Road was put in several years ago. University Avenue from Highway 10 to 93rd Avenue was constructed three years ago.
Although it made no official decisions, the council is leaning toward eliminating the landscaping in the median along Radisson Road because of safety concerns both for drivers and the maintenance crews and because some of the landscaping has been non-existent in recent years.
Councilmember Dick Swanson said it can be hard for drivers turning on the road to see other vehicles if landscaping is blocking their view.
Public Works Director Mike Ulrich said they need to shut down one lane of traffic in each direction and bring in every public works crew member when maintaining the landscaping and irrigation system in the Radisson Road medians because the higher speed limit so it is very time consuming and expensive to keep it looking good.
Ulrich said the landscaping in the median on Radisson Road south of 105th has been destroyed.
Therres estimated it would cost about $25,000 to bring the Radisson Road planting beds to their original condition. Most of the cost is correcting a leaking irrigation system.
“There are some areas where there are three or four rose bushes where there used to be 30,” Ulrich said.
Four of the 287 miles of public roads owned by the city, county or Minnesota Department of Transportation in Blaine had landscaped medians in 2012. Therres said the city spends about $10,000 a year maintaining all four miles of landscaped medians.
In addition, 11.25 miles of these landscaped medians are on private roads in developments such as The Lakes and Club West Parkway.
Councilmember Russ Herbst said landscaped medians in The Village shopping center look really nice, but he believes it may be easier for the city to have regular concrete medians to cut down on its maintenance costs.
Mayor Tom Ryan said the city will have to address these road areas one at a time, starting with Radisson Road south of 105th Avenue.
Swanson said the city can address other roads such as 89th Avenue and Rice Creek Parkway a year or more from now, and it should do a better job of looking at what type of landscaping should be in these medians if it remains.
For instance, Swanson knows of one area along Rice Creek Parkway where a group of evergreen trees cuts down on visibility for people turning on to the road. Because these two roads are in neighborhoods, the council would like to see what the residents have to say first before eliminating any of that landscaping.
Eric Hagen is at email@example.com