The root of the problem: City replaces trees to save sidewalks

The root of the problem: City replaces trees to save sidewalks-attachment0

There’s a battle raging under the sidewalks of Asheville’s tree-lined streets. The protagonists are the trees and the concrete around them. The ultimate peacekeepers are the City of Asheville’s Public Works department.

“We don’t like to remove trees, except when they impact sidewalks, and it was past time to do this section of Patton Avenue,” said John Gavin, senior project engineer for Public Works. “When you get concrete irregularities of 3 to 4 inches, people in wheelchairs have a hard time getting over them. Some of the concrete on Patton Avenue was more than that,” said Gavin.  “Patton Avenue has had five or six people claim injury by tripping on sidewalk hazards over the past couple years. Most of the hazards are caused by tree roots lifting concrete sections.”

Eighteen trees along Patton Avenue have been, or will be, removed, along Patton Avenue from Clingman Street to Otis Street.

Asheville City Arborist Mark Foster says most of them were red maples and one Japanese zelcova. “We are replacing them with a mix of red maples, lace bark elms, and Japanese zelcovas,” said Foster. “We like to have a mix of species along a street in case of some kind of disease, which may take out all of one species.” Foster counted 18 rings on the largest red maple near the Western Carolina Rescue Mission, right in line with the average lifetime of sidewalk trees — about 20 years.

SHARE

6 thoughts on “The root of the problem: City replaces trees to save sidewalks

  1. LOKEL

    So, they are replacing the trees with the same species … how will this solve anything … the new trees will mature eventually with the same result.

    So, in 20 years the City will remove these trees and replace them again.

    In some places the sidewalk area (for walking) is barely spacious enough for one person to pass at a time … on Lexington for example in the stretch from College to Walnut (on the TOPS side), there are so many signs, trees, planting areas, and the like that folks really have to do some maneuvering to pass each other.

  2. How refreshing to hear a story about promoting human values over against lower forms of nature.
    …………………..

    • bill smith

      NOTE TO MODERATORS: This is where the conversation became incomprehensible.

  3. TreeDudeMark

    Lokel makes some good points that I hope I can address to most everyone’s satisfaction. First, only half the trees going back will be the same species. Secondly, the outgoing trees were planted at finished sidewalk grade. This ensures a short life for the sidewalk and tree as the tree matures and the roots thicken. The replacement trees will be set with the root collar at the level of the bottom surface of the sidewalk with an air space between the root ball and the metal grate you walk on. Additionally, a four inch layer of clean stone will be placed in a five foot wide crescent around each tree pit. This dry, soil-free layer encourages deeper rooting and the stones can shift to absorb the thickening of roots as they grow below them. Research has shown the effectiveness of this approach at delaying and minimizing sidewalk heaving. As for other tree/pedestrian conflicts, The Public Works Department strives to repair and improve on plantings and construction of the past as budget permits and new techniques become available.
    Mark Foster
    City Arborist

  4. hauntedheadnc

    [i]So, they are replacing the trees with the same species … how will this solve anything … the new trees will mature eventually with the same result.

    So, in 20 years the City will remove these trees and replace them again.[/i]

    More or less, that’s the way street trees work. You find a species of tree that thrives in the harsh conditions of an urban environment, plant it, and let it do as well as it can for as long as it can.

    You’re not going to find a tree that’s going to thrive and grow for a century in a sidewalk planting well.

    [i]How refreshing to hear a story about promoting human values over against lower forms of nature.[/i]

    It’s cute how your mutant politics can infect just about any subject. It’s also cute how you can’t see the value — to a human being — of a tree.

  5. hauntedheadnc

    [i]In some places the sidewalk area (for walking) is barely spacious enough for one person to pass at a time … on Lexington for example in the stretch from College to Walnut (on the TOPS side), there are so many signs, trees, planting areas, and the like that folks really have to do some maneuvering to pass each other.[/i]

    I forgot to address this that you mentioned.

    This is part of the nature of the beast when it comes to Asheville itself. It’s an old city in dramatic terrain. That means narrow, winding streets that were laid out in a time when no one could conceive that there would ever be a need for greenery in the middle of town because the forest started up again on the other side of the buildings.

    This means that if we want shady streets, something’s got to give, and that means crowded sidewalks.

    I do understand the concerns raised about this though. My parents are both disabled and getting around with them in a broad, flat parking lot can be hell, let alone trying to get them from point A to point B in an urban environment. However, I am and have always been an advocate for green, shaded streets.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.