Does the massive 405 Freeway project have too much greenery? – Orange County Register

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Q. I was confused looking at the 405 Freeway’s new landscaping in Orange County. In the middle of the on- and off-ramps, green grass is being planted. With all the news about the need for drought-tolerant landscape, and then Caltrans plants grass?

– Brian Donnell, Westminster 

A. Well, Brian, the ol’ Honkinator rounded up some info, but he is not so sure it will assuage you.

That greenery is part of the $2.16 billion widening and general improvement project of the 405, which added a couple of lanes in both directions between Costa Mesa and the Long Beach border and was overseen by the Orange County Transportation Authority.

“The landscaping at the Euclid, Magnolia and Brookhurst streets on- and off-ramps includes trees, ground cover and low shrubs,” said Megan Abba, an OCTA spokeswoman, in an email. “Each of these interchanges includes detention ponds, which are installed to provide a temporary holding basin for rainwater. Within the basins, there are plants typically composed of native grasses. Throughout the project, this includes a native, low-growing grass blend and irrigation. …

“In general, the selection of plant species (was) based on Caltrans or city requirements, depending on which agency will maintain the area,” she said. “All the plant species that were selected are low maintenance and are either native or adapted species that are drought tolerant.”

Caltrans added its thoughts.

“Wherever possible, native vegetation is selected,” Nathan Abler, a spokesman for the agency in Orange County, told Honk in an email. “The vegetation in the retention basins serves two purposes, the first is to provide stabilization of the retention basins to prevent erosion, and the second is for aesthetics.”

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