We’ve had a lot of discussion concerning trees on University Avenue – rightly so.
Many are concerned that we’ll lose some beautiful trees with the new BRT route. I too am a fan of protecting and keeping the trees but as we do so it’s important that we look at them with a long term view.
Several of the trees along the route are Ginkos planted about 7 years ago. These trees are a good choice for the high demands of University Ave and can be moved for about $200 each. This is an easy decision for us and we expect to keep the trees on University as part of the BRT project.
Some of the trees are beautiful Maple trees that have added to the ambiance of University Avenue for decades. No one wants to lose these trees. That said, Ty Nielsen, City Forester, has been clear that the trees have a poor chance of survival with or without the BRT project. They are nearing their normal life expectancy. Some of the them are already looking sick and Ty tells us that within 6 years they will all need to be replaced. Adding to the problem is the way the trees were planted in road base gravel with no thought to ideal growing conditions.
So, the choice before us – to design around the trees and save them while compromising parking, bike lanes, and sidewalks knowing that within the decade they will all be gone or, build the right street with the the right trees in the right conditions so that in 10 years we will have the right street with growing healthy trees.
I asked Ty if there was a single old tree along the route that was worth saving. He shook and said, “No.” That shocked me so I asked for a second opinion. Ty and I consulted with Scott Bunker our former city forester. Scott agreed so I pushed for a third opinion. Scott and Ty consulted with Max Darrington, Arborist at BYU who also agreed with Ty’s initial assessment.
Trees are so important to us that we are planting around 750 trees per year throughout Provo City. We are very proactive in ensuring Provo has a very healthy urban forest. Each year we spend approximately 1.3 million dollars taking care of both the utility and urban forests throughout Provo City including our tree planting efforts.