M-DOT is making news again with live oak trees on Highway 90. But this time, it's something positive.
A landscape crew hired by M-DOT is planting "replacement trees." The 130 trees being planted will take the place of two dozen live oaks that M-DOT mistakenly cut down shortly after the storm.
"M-DOT hired us to come down and replace the live oaks that you see here," said landscape foreman David Gentry.
Southwest Design and Landscaping is helping M-DOT bring back some green to the barren medians. Young live oaks are getting a start on the scenic highway known for its ancient oaks.
"It should be no problem with them at all. They're a tough tree. And they should adapt right to the climate here," said Gentry.
The crew will plant live oaks ranging from less than two inches to nine inches in diameter. A consultant helped the City of Gulfport choose strategic spots for the trees.
Christian Preus says the locations were very specific.
"Identifying locations that were critically damaged. And also areas that needed landscaping, where there once was just grass and concrete. Adding trees in those areas for landscape value," he said.
You might call this tree planting project an M-DOT "make good." You'll recall that two weeks after the storm, M-DOT mistakenly cut down two dozen live oak trees. This planting project is an effort to replace that which was lost.
"You know, it's a good start. It was devastating to see them go," said Mayor Brent Warr.
Gulfport's mayor says this initial planting is only the beginning of the sprucing up along Highway 90.
"They're going to come back in the fall, in the dormant, wet season, and they're going to come back with some very strategically located, very large trees, as big as they can transplant, which is the commitment they made to us," said the mayor.
The first round of trees is already getting a nod from the passing public.
"The people have come by and are blowing their horns. Makes you feel good," said Gentry.
The first round of tree planting should be finished by the end of this week. M-DOT has about a million dollars set aside for a long range landscaping plan along Highway 90. Details of that project are still being worked out.