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County may save four trees

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The trees that were scheduled to be felled along the Highway 12 corridor from Boyes Boulevard to Agua Caliente Road, have received another reprieve – albeit temporary – because the project needs to be re-bid.

The trees were supposed to be felled beginning last week, but that plan was put on hold until 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin and Deputy Public Works Director Tom O’Kane had a chance to walk the route and look at the trees that were set to be felled.

During Friday’s walkabout, the county identified four trees that could possibly be saved, which meant the tree-cutting project had to be re-bid.

“Hopefully, we will award the bid again in a couple of days,” O’Kane said Tuesday.

But the county is up against a deadline of Feb. 15, when bird-nesting season starts.

“The removal can still go forward after Feb. 15, but we will need to have a biologist inspect the trees before they are removed,” O’Kane explained. “This delay does complicate the work, but it does not shut it down. However, if birds nest in a tree that is identified for removal, we will have to wait until the young birds are gone until we take it down.”

The trees are among the 76 trees and shrubs that will be removed before construction can start on Phase II of the sidewalks and streetlights project.

The Highway 12 project was in limbo after the State Supreme Court dissolved all of the state’s 400-plus redevelopment agencies in December 2011. The county’s redevelopment agency was dissolved in February 2012 and the project stalled.

But back in May of 2013, the county’s board of supervisors decided to fund the project, using the extra revenue from the state that would have gone to the redevelopment agency.

After leaving the project on the shelf for 15 months, both the county and Caltrans had to gear back up to set the process in motion. Most of the prep work has been done and the county was looking to bid the highway project early next month, if the trees don’t hold it up.

In an email last week, Gorin said, “We have to remove the trees before nesting season – and nesting season has already begun, so time is short. If we miss the nesting season, construction will be delayed six months to a year. So we are eager to move this forward. And I’m a bit concerned that the county may back away from its funding commitment if we delay over a year.”

After the walkabout, said she was optimistic about the future because the county has gotten a $450,000 planning grant from ABAG (the Association of Bay Area Governments) to make the new Highway 12 corridor more friendly, including planting replacement trees and installing bike racks and benches.

  • dd

    There is no need to remove any trees. Sidewalks can curve around existing trees of any size – as done in many other cities and towns. Gorin does not think outside of the box – just anxious to get work moving so birds have few places to nest – obviously a boon to contractors of all sorts..

  • Karen Adams

    I definitely agree, they plant trees along the road for aesthetic curb appeal and pay for it! We already have it!