ADOT protecting native plants along I-17 as part of Improvement Project between Anthem Way and Sunset Point

ADOT protecting native plants along I-17 as part of Improvement Project between Anthem Way and Sunset Point

By Laura Douglas / ADOT Communications
November 11, 2022

Most of us have made the trip along Interstate 17 between the Phoenix metro area and Arizona’s high country. Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, hopefully you’ve taken a moment to appreciate the natural beauty along this major stretch of highway. 

Now that construction is underway for the I-17 Improvement Project from Anthem Way to Sunset Point, there is some important work taking place to protect the natural landscape that is part of this scenic corridor.

Crews are removing viable native vegetation, including saguaros, barrel cacti, palo verde trees and ocotillos, along the 23-mile project corridor so it can be cared for and closely monitored during construction, then eventually replanted alongside an improved wider highway.

Drivers who regularly travel I-17 between Anthem Way and Sunset Point may see some of the salvage work during the next several months. Plant salvage crews from the Kiewit-Fann Joint Venture developer team will collect hundreds of viable native trees, accents (such as ocotillos and yuccas), saguaros and other cacti. 

Viable native plants, trees and cacti to be salvaged will be taken with their native soil to temporary nurseries established specifically for the I-17 Improvement Project. Once a salvaged plant, tree or cactus is transported to the temporary nursery, it will be cared for, carefully monitored and maintained until it can be replanted.

Here’s something we can all appreciate: approximately two-thirds of the right-of-way along the 23-mile project area will remain undisturbed, and no salvaging will be necessary.

The salvaged trees and cacti aren’t the only plants returning to the natural landscape once the improvement project is finished. The work area will also be replanted with native seed mixes and nursery-grown plants. These efforts help to achieve the long-term goal of successfully revegetating the landscapeable area with a mix of plants that will thrive and restore the natural environment for years to come.

Restoring native plants has been an integral part of many Arizona Department of Transportation projects for more than 35 years. It is important work that benefits us and the natural environment.