Flowers planted along local highways not only look nice, but save taxpayers money

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The wildflowers planted over the past few years around some of the area’s freeway interchanges are now in full bloom, attracting bees and butterflies and making the landscape more visually appealing. Tonight, we check out what are known as pollinator sites.

“I think they’re absolutely delightful,” said councilwoman Basia Adamczak, who represents Youngstown’s 7th Ward.

Adamczak includes one of the area’s most colorful pollinator sites, at the northbound entrance ramp from Midlothian Boulevard to Interstate 680. The Black-eyed Susans are in full bloom.

“Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but I think it’s saving Ohioans tax dollars on the maintenance and on the grass cutting,” Adamczak said.

She’s right. They are saving taxpayers money.

“Once we designate them as a pollinator site, we’re not going in and mowing it typically like we used to,” said Ray Marsch of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Marsch says the pollinator sites grew from a study on how ODOT mows the areas around its roads.

“In 2017, we established our first pollinator site here in Ohio and since then, we have over 120 pollinator sites across the state,” Marsch said.

Nineteen of those sites are in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. You’ll find them up and down I-680 and Route 11. There are 26 varieties of wildflowers planted on each site.

“It really helps the pollinators to increase their populations,” said Ralph Rupert, president of the Mahoning and Columbiana Beekeepers Association.

Rupert is all for pollinator sites.

“It’s not just the honeybee but it’s all sorts of insects — the solitary bee, butterflies, etc. So the more we have these areas for them to feed on, of course, we can then further their populations, which always will strengthen us,” Rupert said.

ODOT is still looking at other areas where pollinator sites can be built and hasn’t ruled out planting new ones in the future.

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