Plants now appear in some U.S. 19 medians in NPR

A landscaping project is intended to spruce up the image of U.S. 19 within New Port Richey city limits.

NEW PORT RICHEY — A landscaping project meant to change the unattractive face of the section of U.S. 19 through the city is entering its final phase.

All of the peanut sod has been placed in the medians in the middle of the six-lane highway, according to Martin Field, construction inspector for the Public Works Department. Plants are starting go in, he added.

Morelli Landscaping crews are working in the median across from Luna Vista Drive, planting spider lily, Schillings holly, Walter’s viburnum, coontie, also known as Florida arrowroot, and aloe vera, Fields said.

In October, the first three trees were planted along the state highway as the contractor started the job.

The Morelli firm won the contract for the first phase with a bid of $265,624.

“This has been a long time coming,” Councilman Jeff Starkey remarked in July.

Plans began coming together in August 2015 with commitments for state grants to spruce up the six-lane highway within the city limits.

Florida Department of Transportation officials recommended the Morelli firm because of experience with similar projects for the state agency, city officials pointed out. The firm also completed the Downtown Tree Replacement Project for the city under budget and quicker than the deadline in 2013.

The city is coordinating with a road maintenance organization jointly started by West Pasco Chamber and West Pasco Board of Realtors.

The group is advocating a name change for U.S. 19 to Gulf Coast Highway.

The RMO also elected board members so that beautification projects can proceed along U.S. 19 throughout the Pasco section of U.S. 19.