Pioneer Highway Project in Amarillo

Paul Braun, TxDOT
Paul Braun, TxDOT
Pat Brinkman, TxDOT Landscaping Architect
Pat Brinkman, TxDOT Landscaping Architect

A new project to conserve water while lengthening the life of area vegetation is being pioneered in Amarillo.

The Texas Department of Transportation is improving highway vegetation sites with landscape beds that work like a playa lake, collecting rainwater and releasing excess as run-off.

This will allow TxDOT to avoid using our drinking water supply to hydrate highway vegetation. It costs about $1500 to construct each vegetation site but after that, there is minimal maintenance.

TxDOT's Paul Braun says,"Once the vegetation has taken root and everything is in we let mother nature take over and have a lifetime of enjoyment from a plant bed like this."

In the past, vegetation would dry up and die. Now, four to five inches of mulch will hold the rainwater in the soil for a month or longer.

TxDOT Landscaping Architect Pat Brinkman says, "Normally in the past we've planted a 300 dollar tree in a 500 dollar hole. What we're trying to do now is trying to develop a 300 dollar hole and plant a 20 dollar tree and watch it take off."

And the mulch will contain micro organisms that will more efficiently keep the soil alive.

"These will be little small oasises instead of just dead desert plants trying to survive," says Brinkman.

A 10 minute heavy rain can catch 2 thousand gallons of water. Water TxDOT can now use more efficiently.

If the pilot project is successful when it is completed this spring, TxDOT will build similar sites across the state.