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Ask Matt ... where have all the flowers gone

NCDOT replaced flowers with river rock on U.S. 64 median at the I-26 interchange. NCDOT replaced flowers with river rock on U.S. 64 median at the I-26 interchange.

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Q. Why did they take out all the yellow lilies and other plants in the median of U.S. 64 near the interstate and replace them with stone?

It seems that it’s all about safety. NCDOT is responsible for maintaining the median on U.S. 64 and it was decided that it would be easier and safer for their crews to maintain a median with river rock rather than plants because of the close proximity to passing traffic. Keith Blazer with the state’s highway department said that they had many complaints about the appearance of the plants which were showing some considerable age.
The river rocks were placed on permeable fabric to control weeds. Twice a year highway employees will spray the rock beds with a herbicide. This can be done from the safety of trucks. That may be an important factor since the traffic on U.S. 64 near the overpass is 37,000 vehicles per day. I have heard from several citizens who fear that the rocks will become dislodged and present its own safety problem. Also, there is the concern that the median will again become a magnet for cigarette butts, bottles, cans and broken auto parts.
The rock bed, approximately, one half mile in length, cost the State $25,000 to install. NCDOT used four different vendors, at least one of which gets their rocks (natural quartzite) from the Pigeon River near Newport, Tennessee. Out of curiosity, I asked geology professor Jackie Langille at UNC-Asheville how long it would take to smooth the stones in the median. She said that there are many varying factors such as the type of rock and the velocity of the stream so the timescale can range from hundreds to even thousands of years.
There were some mixed signals regarding the plan according to sources at the city of Hendersonville. It seems that NCDOT’s first choice for the median was not a rock bed at all. Instead they were going to dig out the lilies and install small trees, shrubs, and flowers. Somehow the plan turned to stone.

Q. What’s the listing price for the vacant lot directly across from the new courthouse? It would make a great park.

It’s actually two lots. The 0.65 acres on the corner of Third Avenue and Grove Street is listed for $1.1 million. If you are interested, call Gwen Bowers with Southeby’s Real Estate. Local businessman Hasan Mansouri acquired the property in 1996. It is listed on the county tax books for $459,900. Mansouri purchased the Woodfield Inn eight years ago, renamed it Mansouri Mansion and made improvements. It has yet to enjoy the level of success that the former historic inn once had.