Saplings spruce up expressway

Entering the Throgs Neck Expressway at Blair Avenue will be a much greener experience, now that nearly 30 trees line the entrance.

Recently, crews from the New York Restoration Project planted 28 honey locust, linden, oak and magnolia trees on a strip between the highway and homes as part of its effort to “green” the city roadways.

“It’s huge,” Elin Kim, chairperson of the Edgewater Park Beautification Committee, said while standing between the freshly planted saplings on Friday, July 30. “It’s going to turn what was an ordinary on-ramp to the highway into a real botanical area. It’s really beautiful.”

Residents are hoping the trees will not only make the first entrance onto I-295 North after the Throgs Neck Bridge more beautiful, but that it will also help shelter their ears from the noisy highway traffic and improve the environment in the area.

“It will be a good thing. The foliage makes it look nice from the highway,” John Donohue, a volunteer with the beautification committee, said. “And it’ll bring up the property values in the area. We should have done this years ago.”

The project is the first in a series the NYRP and the state Department of Transportation are planning for all exit and entrance ramps across the city, according to Barrett Robinson, NYRP vice president of horticulture and construction.

He said the Blair Avenue entrance was chosen because of its location and heavy traffic flow.

“It’s a really important corridor,” he said. “It’s very visible and with so many residents living by the highway, there is a real need for screening the noise. It also goes to the beautification of the roadways, which is the focus of the interests of the DOT and NYRP project.”

The departments recently joined forces to begin a project to plant 1,398 trees across the city. The project, which is being funded by the mayor’s fund, the NYRP and corporate donors, helps advance the MillionTreesNYC initiative to plant one million trees across the five boroughs by 2017.

“It’s the start of a new partnership with the state DOT,” Robinson said. “Because of the vacant roadways, it’s really a good place to spread our message of planting 1 million trees.”

According to Robinson, the partnership was initiated by Senator Jeff Klein, which was another reason the tree planting project came first to Throggs Neck.

“By bringing nearly 1,400 trees to this area, we can cut down on the noise and traffic pollution, and improve the quality of life for surrounding residents,” Klein said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with them in an effort to expand this project to the other side of the expressway and parts of my district.”

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