Gahanna plans to beautify the city's south gateway, thanks to a collaborative effort of Ohio State University, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Bird Houk Collaborative.

Gahanna plans to beautify the city's south gateway, thanks to a collaborative effort of Ohio State University, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Bird Houk Collaborative.

Council is expected to approve a $17,000 reimbursement agreement with ODOT on Monday, May 2, to cover the cost of landscaping materials and maintenance of the I-270 and Hamilton Road interchange.

Assistant city engineer Mike Andrako said Dr. Hannah Mathers, an OSU professor and Gahanna resident, had approached him in the fall about possible locations for a salt-tolerant planting study. The study involves taking various species of trees and shrubs grown in Mathers' nursery, using techniques designed to produce a more salt-tolerant plant for use on roadside applications and replanting it in harsh environments.

After evaluating various locations around Gahanna, Andrako said, the I-270-Hamilton Road interchange was selected.

Since this area has been reconstructed recently, much of it has no existing vegetation that would require removal. In addition, he said, it's an area where the city had planned to add aesthetic landscaping later. ODOT will provide the salt-intolerant plants as part of the gateway program, which provides landscaping and materials to municipalities for use in beautifying roadsides along interchanges and highways. As part of this project, Gahanna plans to enter an ODOT grant agreement, which would provide reimbursement for all salt-intolerant plants and would be used to compare the results of OSU's plantings.

The proposed council legislation will require a supplement from the parks-maintenance supplies account to cover the cost of the salt-intolerant plants, which will be reimbursed through the program.

"The creation of this on-site research laboratory is truly a collaborative effort between OSU, ODOT, Bird Houk and Gahanna," Andrako said. "What we'll do is put landscaping in and around the two new traffic signals."

He's requesting emergency approval on the issue so materials could be ordered in time for planting season.

"It's volunteer labor we'll use," he said.