Scotch broom infiltrating SR16 decorative medians

The in basket: I noticed during a series of trips to Tacoma and back recently that the median on Highway 16 along what I call the Purdy Bypass is particularly attractive, with flowering trees and other landscaping I must assume the state spend a good sum on when the highway was built. Some other stretches of Highway 16’s median are as nice.

But among the flowers in late May and early June was a tell-tale bright yellow, the blooms of scotch broom. They actually looked quite nice as an accent for the other plants while they lasted. But we all know what happens when scotch broom goes untended. You can see it blanketing the shoulders on either side of the nice medians.

The state finds it nearly impossible to eradicate scotch broom on its right of way, but I asked if the few plants that have gotten a toe-hold in an area the state evidently paid to make garden-like is something they try to remove.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokesperson for the state highways here, replied, “Unfortunately, we don’t have dedicated resources to totally clear scotch broom from our right of way. We use our limited resources to clear scotch broom in areas where it limits sight distance or encroaches into travel lanes.

“In the area you referenced, the scotch broom actually serves the useful purpose of reducing the glare at night from oncoming headlights.

There’s a lot more about the state’s roadside vegetation program online at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Maintenance/Roadside/.

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