The “Welcome to Washington” display on Interstate 5 in Vancouver has become a little drab lately, with a large crop of weeds taking over what is normally a state-shaped bed of flowers in front of the sign.
According to WSDOT spokeswoman Tamara Greenwell, the sign has become an indirect victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each spring, the agency partners with volunteers from Washington State University’s Master Gardener Program to plant a fresh round of flowers at the site. But this year’s event had to be called off because the narrow planting window came and went while the state was on lockdown during the early weeks of the pandemic.
“It’s disappointing, because it’s such a beautiful way to welcome people to our Evergreen State,” Greenwell said.
There won’t be any new flowers until next spring, but WSDOT does plan to send a crew out soon to get rid of the weeds and clean up the display. It’s taken a while to get to it because the agency has been scrambling to catch up on maintenance, Greenwell said. The shutdown happened right when WSDOT crews typically do a lot of their seasonal mowing and vegetation work, creating a backlog of tasks.