EmX Expansion To Take Out 230 Trees

Two big cedars on 7th Avenue will be cut
Two big cedars on 7th Avenue will be cut

About 230 trees will be cut down as part of the west Eugene expansion of LTD’s EmX bus rapid transit system, including a pair of stately big cedars by Hollywood Treasures on 7th Avenue. But Friends of Trees is not protesting. In fact, Erik Burke, director of Eugene’s FOT, says he welcomes what he sees as LTD’s long-term investment in Eugene’s urban tree canopy.

Some 400 new trees will be planted along the corridor of 6th, 7th and 11th avenues and the new trees will have more room to grow in an “expanded soil zone” with other vegetation that will filter stormwater, according to Andy Vobora, LTD’s director of customer services and planning. In addition to the 400 new trees, 50 trees will be planted in west Eugene neighborhoods on cross streets adjacent to the EmX corridor east of Garfield.

The two big cedars on 7th are in the way of road widening to provide a dedicated lane for the EmX buses, Vobora says. The group analyzing the project “looked at routing the sidewalk behind the trees but that was not a good option.”

Not all trees along the corridor will be cut, just those that are stressed, lack room to grow, are in the way of business access or have roots that would be damaged by EmX work, Vobora says. He says many of the trees to be removed “were planted about 25 years ago and are struggling.” An extensive tree root survey was conducted over the summer as part of LTD’s landscape plan development in collaboration with Urban Forester Mark Snyder, Nathaniel Sperry of Sperry Tree Care, landscape architect Justin Lamphear and Burke of FOT. A diverse 18-member citizen focus group was also involved in the process.

No trees will be coming down where EmX buses will be moving in mixed traffic without their own, dedicated lanes. But some stretches that have no trees currently will get trees.

Wood from the cut trees will be used for “public benefit,” Vobora says. Some wood will be available for art and furniture projects, some for use in habitat restoration and branches will be chipped and offered to the public.

A lot of concrete sidewalk will be removed to accommodate the trees. The concrete will be cut up into roughly 1-foot-square blocks (called urbanite) and made available free to the public for landscaping projects this weekend only from the FOT project. There will be an FOT  depaving project Saturday, Oct. 4, involving volunteers from FOT and local neighborhoods. Call Jennifer at 632-3683 or email jenniferk@friendsoftrees.org for more information.

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