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.