19 July 2010

Chia Pets Coming to a Highway Near You?

Westbound Interstate 70 east of  Columbus, Ohio is planting something akin to Chia Pets to muffle highway sound. The Department of Transportation will test a 12-foot-high wall of sprouting plants and grass.  Is this innovative or what?  A great alternative to the concrete walls that line highways to minimize traffic noise. 

Let's hope they have learned from a previous attempt in Wisconsin that saw weeds infiltrate the wall and plants die from lack of water.  Portions of the wall collapsed.

A Washington state company has sought proposals to work with Deltalok, USA for the project.  Deltalok has used a patented bag system somewhat similar to this concept but its purpose was to control erosion, protect stream banks and repair slopes.

"It is like a Chia (Pet) wall - basically filling bags with dirt and seed, watering it and watching it grow up and out," said ODOT spokesman Scott Varner. "And much like the novelty plant on the windowsill, it will take some care in the beginning and ongoing maintenance."

This pilot project is a two-year experiment to decide if the vegetative wall can survive the season and the salt applied to the roads in the winters.  How much maintenance and water this wall requires as well as its ability to muffle the noise like a concrete wall, will determine its viability.

For more information on this project select this link: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/07/sound_wall_made_of_vegetation.html

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