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City to install environmentally friendly medians on San Pablo

Source: City of El Cerrito

In the coming weeks, the City of El Cerrito plans to begin an environmentally-friendly landscape renovation project in the medians along the 2.7 miles of San Pablo Avenue that runs through El Cerrito.

“I am excited about the Median Landscape Renovation project because it will improve the look of the Avenue, increase our maintenance efficiency, conserve water and save the City money in our operations budget,” said El Cerrito Mayor William Jones. The project is estimated by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) to conserve more than 800,000 gallons of water in its first year, and over 1 million gallons of water per year in following years.

The City will follow Bay-Friendly landscaping techniques. For example, medians that are currently all turf grass will be replaced with drought-tolerant shrubs, ground cover and grasses that use low-water and will not require shearing or high inputs of fertilizers. At installation, the project will use recycled mulch and organic fertilizers.

The irrigation system will be upgraded with high-efficiency (“Smart”) irrigation components, such as controllers that include rain sensing override devices and have the ability to detect and respond to problems like broken sprinkler heads. The project also includes installation of a Central Controller for more efficient maintenance and irrigation work of the medians, as well as to eventually facilitate management of irrigation citywide.

As the landscape project matures, it will also provide a tree canopy over San Pablo Avenue, with seasonal colors that will lend visual interest to the view up and down the Avenue. The project includes planting a diverse array of native and Mediterranean plants, as well as planting over one hundred (100) new trees.

Through a competitive bidding process, the City of El Cerrito contracted with Watkin and Bortolussi, Inc. for the San Pablo Avenue Streetscape Median Landscape Renovation Project which is expected to be completed in approximately May. Watkin and Bortolussi, Inc. are based in San Rafael and have extensive experience doing similar landscaping work along state highways. Their winning bid was for $485,657.

The Median Landscape Renovation Project is part of the City’s multi-year, multi-phased San Pablo Avenue Streetscape and Gateway Identity program to create an improved multi-modal transportation and economic development environment along the Avenue. Phase One of the program included new street banners, signage & streetscape improvements in front of the new Baxter Creek Gateway Park, all of which were completed in 2007. The Median Landscape Renovation Project is Phase Two of the program. The final phase will include the planting of trees along both sides of the Avenue, street furnishings, transit stop improvements and other beautification and safety enhancements such as improved crosswalks, bulb-outs, upgraded pedestrian signals.

For more details about the City of El Cerrito’s San Pablo Avenue Streetscape and Gateway Identity program, visit http://www.el-cerrito.org/public_works/ or contact Melanie Mintz, the City’s Capital Improvement Program Manager at 215-4339 or mmintz@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us. For more information about the Median Landscape Renovation Project, call the Department of Public Works at 215-4382.

Run dates: 2008-01-29 - 2008-02-28

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