The severe storms this fall may have wrecked havoc in the city, but the downed trees turned out to be a blessing for Throggs Neck.
Hundreds of trees that were blown down during the vicious wind storms in September, which occasionally crushed cars and lead to several traffic jams and injuries, have been turned into mulch and are now being used during the planting of new trees along the Throgs Neck Expressway.
“Like making lemonade out of lemons, we said, “why not make a new forest out of an old one’,” said Lisa Loeb, public relations manger for the New York Restoration Project, which is heading the program. “Partnering with the NYC Parks Department, we were able to make mulch from the fallen trees, many due to storm damage, to cover 81 acres along the Throgs Neck Expressway.”
So far more than 1,400 trees have been planted along both sides of the expressway. The trees include honey locust, linden, oak and magnolia. The NYRP plans to plant about 1,000 more trees in the center strip, bringing the total to about 3,000 along the major roadway.
While this is not the first time the city has used blown down trees as mulch to help grow the new trees, this is the first time the city was able to chip the wood fine enough for it to be used in a reforestation project.
“Usually we get a half processed chip, but we can now regrind it into a finer project. There hasn’t been a process to refine it into a usable mulch product before,” said Barrett Robinson NYRP Vice President of Horticulture and Construction. “This is not only going to save money by reusing the product, but we can also create a new forest out of the dead trees.”
The project is part of the city’s MillionTreesNYC program, which aims to plant one million trees by the end of the next decade.
The reforestation project along the Throgs Neck Expressway is the beginning of the city’s efforts to “green” roadways in particular. Officials hope the added foliage will not only make the drive along the expressway more pleasant, but it will also shelter nearby residents from traffic noise and improve the environment in the area.
The project in Throggs Neck should be completed by the middle of next month, Robinson predicted.
“We love the project. We were so thrilled to get these trees,” said Elin Kim, chairwoman of the Edgewater Park Beautification Committee. “It’s going to give the whole area a new look. Before you could see the fence, but now I think it has real botanical quality. People gripe about everything, but that’s one of the things they always have something good to say about.”
After all the trees have been planted along the center strip, the city will begin looking at new roadways to reforest.
“This went so well that we want to expand the program in the future,” said Robinson. “We are looking at the Van Wyck Expressway as the next opportunity, but we also need to look at which area has the greatest need and also where the best places to plant are.”