NJDOT Announces Highway
Beautification Project in South Jersey
Transportation Commissioner John J. Haley Jr. today announced that the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has implemented a unique highway beautification project -- entailing the replacement of traditional lawn grass mixes with that of grass more commonly found in meadows -- along the median on Route 55 in parts of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland counties.
"The project demonstrates New Jersey’s new approach to improving roadside aesthetics and to carrying out Governor Whitman’s call to preserving the state’s natural resources and beauty," Haley said.
The project, "Shore Meadows: New Jersey’s Beautiful -- Naturally!," calls for planting Weeping Love Grass (Eragrostis curvula) along 14 total miles on Route 55 southbound, including an 11.4-mile stretch from Franklin Township to Millville City and an 2.6-mile stretch from Millville City to Maurice River Township. The grass grows to about 24 inches in wiry tussocks that weep with the slightest breeze creating a wave-like appearance.
Weeping Love Grass is particularly suited to the sandy, often infertile soils found in southern New Jersey and has the additional benefit of needing limited annual mowing to maintain adequate vegetative cover against erosion. It is very tolerant to summer drought retaining a green color when other grasses have turned brown.
"Here we have a way to improve road appearances while providing good erosion control in an ecologically sound way. In place of creating roadside lawns, that need to be cut up to five times a year, we can create meadows needing one mowing a year. The reduced mowing drastically reduces the amount of air pollution created by gasoline-powered equipment," Haley added, "If successful, Weeping Love Grass could be planted on many rural and semi-rural road sites along other highways in the State.
The NJDOT has installed signs along Route 55 to let the public know about the demonstration project. The Weeping Love Grass demonstration project began in the spring of 1997 on a median section of Route 55 south of Glassboro.