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Not everyone happy about loss of trees

LOUISE AVENUE

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Not everyone  happy about  loss of trees

About a dozen trees are being lost as part of the project now underway to widen Louise Avenue east of Cottage Avenue.

HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo/


POSTED August 29, 2013 10:39 a.m.

The loss of a dozen older tall trees to make room for the widening of Louise Avenue east of Cottage Avenue isn’t sitting too well with some neighborhood residents.
Public Works Director Mark Houghton noted the city plans to replace the older trees with new ones that fit better in an urban environment along a major roads corridor.
“We really can’t (curve) a road to save trees,” Houghton said. “it just isn’t safe for traffic.”
The trees being removed are within the alignment of additional lanes currently being added in each direction. The widening is designed to align with the existing four-lane wide street on both sides of where the improvements are now underway.
Manteca’s elected leaders back in 2006 promised residents in the neighborhood that the street would be widened and sidewalks added to improve pedestrian safety.
The travel lanes along the segment being widened are narrow and the pavement has washboard like texture between filled in potholes. Pedestrians are forced to walk close to the 45 mph traffic due to a narrow, dirt shoulder. And when it rains, pedestrians often walk on the roadway to traverse the segment creating a safety hazard. The pavement is also too narrow to safely accommodate a bicyclist and vehicle heading in the same direction.
Even though the city is following through on a promise to neighbors, several residents including Geral Hodges believe the city callously moved forward without even thinking about trying to save the trees or designing the road around them.
“We needed sidewalks and (an) improved road bed,” Hedges wrote in an e-mail. “We did not need to lose 16 trees . . .  and make another high speed way for commuters to race through our city on the way to elsewhere.”
Hedges believes the city could have come up with a plan that would have enhanced pedestrian safety, slowed traffic, and saved most if not all of the trees.
He was critical of the city determining there was no significant environmental impact and proceeding with the project. Hedges noted the dozen or so large trees and shrubs digested about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
“When will Manteca come to grips with the idea that cities form to provide a safe and healthy place to build a community of people in?” Hedges asked.
It isn’t the first time the city has come under fire for removing large healthy trees.
Nearly 10 years ago the city was criticized for removing large liquidamber trees from along Powers Avenue in front of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and four in a municipal parking lot at 100 Sycamore Avenue.
In both cases, the trees with their shallow root systems were lifting up sidewalks, buckling asphalt and interfering with sewer lines.
The city at the time they planted replacement trees in 2004 said the Chinese pistache trees they used would not buckle sidewalks and ultimately would be bigger and provide more shade. Critics have essentially said they are still waiting to see that happen.
Manteca has more than 17,000 trees in parks, at the golf course, and along city right of way.

 To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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