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Landscaping on exits in St. Johns County could bring drivers into town

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Updated: 1/20 1:18 pm
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Interchanges along Interstate 95 in St. John's County are taking on a new look.

Once filled with nothing but gravel and grass, they are now being expertly decorated with trees and other greenery.

Locals call it an improvement.

"I'd rather see the palm trees than just nothing," said local Troy Padgett.

This change stems from an agreement made a decade ago.

"The Florida legislature mandated that approximately 1.5 percent of the Florida Department of Transportation statewide construction budget be spent on landscaping," said FDOT spokeswoman Laurie Sanderson.

Sanderson says almost every interchange in St. John's County will be spruced up.

The only exception – the World Golf Village exit where Sanderson says landscaping is already established.

"It is important for the community to have beautification on the exits because St. John's County does serve as a tourist hub for the area," said Sanderson.

FDOT says the upgrades will cost $3.25 million, and some city leaders say the outcome could be worth the price.

"First impressions are everything and the look of the interchange will leave a lasting impression," said Glenn Hastings, executive director of the St. John's County Tourism Development Council.

Hastings says he hopes the new look of the exits will encourage drivers to turn off the interstate, and make a stop in town.

Ohio resident Mike Garcher says, it worked for him. "It catches the eye," he said

Hastings says he believes this new step could help tourism in the area.

FDOT says planting will be complete by the end of 2014, and it will also have an irrigation system in by the end of the year.
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