News

5/16/2018

SJTA Plants 35 Acres of Native Wildflowers along Atlantic City Expressway

SJTA Operations Department prepares to plant field of indigenous wildflowers at Exit 44 on the Atlantic City Expressway.
Wildflowers grow at Exit 44 on the Atlantic City Expressway in an earlier season.



HAMMONTON, NJ – May 15, 2018 -- The South Jersey Transportation Authority’s efforts to enhance the South Jersey environment continues as it plants 35 acres of indigenous flowers at over 50 locations along the Atlantic City Expressway’s right-of-way.

Beyond beautifying the roadway, planting the native wildflowers is intended to reverse the population decline of important pollinators like bees and butterflies suffering from habitat loss and pesticide use. The wildflowers provide many practical benefits. Their root systems reduce storm-water runoff and remove pollutants from road runoff, and they prevent topsoil from eroding into streams and other waterways according to SJTA Operations Project Manager Nick Marchese.

Planting the wildflowers is just one part of the SJTA’s Roadway Environmental Advancement Initiative or REAdI. The initiative includes building and installing bird houses, bat boxes and osprey platforms within the over 1,200 acres which the Expressway’s right-of-way occupies. These efforts are designed and intended to support species indigenous to South Jersey. The birds and bats serve to naturally control insect populations and propagate plant life as pollinators.

SJTA Executive Director Stephen F. Dougherty points out, “The Authority has reduced its dependence on petroleum-based, fossil fuels to help shrink its carbon footprint in the region, and the wildflowers help in this respect by removing 35 acres that need to be mowed regularly during the summer, saving time, money and carbon emissions released into the air.”

The Authority has sought advice and guidance from US Fish and Wildlife Services, the US Environmental Protection Agency, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the NJ Fish and the Wildlife Division of Endangered and Non-Game Species and the NJ Pinelands Commission. REAdI relied on these government agencies to help determine a wildflower seed mix that will best attract pollinators native to South Jersey. The SJTA selects ideal locations within its right-of-way for the wildflowers and prepares the soil to assure their growth and survival as they enhance the South Jersey environment.

“REAdI shows our serious commitment to act as good stewards of the environment. Planting wildflowers is just one of our many programs that not only enhances the drive along the Expressway but allows us to partner with schools and neighboring towns as we seek to improve our ecological impact on South Jersey and surrounding communities,” stated SJTA Project Manager Marchese.

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