The Maryland State Highway Administration has begun a project to plant 20,500 trees along the Interstate 70 median between Hancock and Hagerstown, SHA Spokesperson Charlie Gischlar said.
"We are planting the trees in scattered areas," Gischlar said. "This is over 82 acres of SHA property."
The tree planting is part of an effort by the SHA to help clean up the Potomac River watershed and slow the water velocity when it rains, according to Gischlar.
"Road runoff carries pollutants, and this is our effort to try to help filter the runoff into the Potomac River," Gischlar said, "Everything in Washington County relates to the Potomac River."
Shrubs, trees and bushes help cut down runoff, he said.
Gischlar said this is part of an overall effort to keep the Chesapeake Bay clean.
"The Potomac River is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, and the streams and creeks around here eventually reach the river," he said. "We're doing our part to clear up water that eventually runs into the bay."
Red Maples, Eastern White Pine, Northern Red Oak, Pin Oak, Black Gum and American Elm are among the trees being planted along Interstate 70. The main planting locations are at the Interstate 68 interchange and U.S. 522 at Exit 1 near Hancock, Saint Paul Road near Clear Spring, Cedar Ridge Road near Williamsport, the Interstate 81 interchange at Exit 26, Md. 632 at Exit 28, and Md. 65 at Exit 29.
The shoulder lanes of I-70 will be closed at times while the work is in progress, Gischlar said.
Poole Landscaping of Frederick, Md., has been contracted to work on the project, which should be completed this fall or next spring, according to Gischlar.