Gorin: Safety trumps trees

Posted on February 5, 2014 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The loss of up to 60 trees and shrubs along Highway 12 in the Springs is far outweighed by making the corridor safer for pedestrians, Supervisor Susan Gorin told The Sun this week.

“For public safety, the project will not be delayed,” she said. “When complete, it will provide turn lanes, streetlights and sidewalks to an area desperately in need of a safe corridor.”

Gorin walked the area January 31 in response to residents’ concerns over the trees. “We were able to identify a handful of trees that can be saved,” she said.

The tree removal is part of long-planned improvements on Highway 12 between Boyes Boulevard and Agua Caliente. The overall project includes new sidewalks, a bike lane, lighting and other safety enhancements.

Gorin said the main goal has been improvement of the area and, most of all, providing safe routes for families to walk their children to school.

While road construction is not scheduled to begin until the summer, officials say the tree removal must occur in the coming weeks in order to avoid bird-nesting season. If birds begin to nest, the project will be delayed for several months. The timeline, set by Caltrans, offers local officials little flexibility.

The trees targeted for removal are simply those too close to the impending roadwork. “Between ADA compliance and the narrowness of the corridor, there is little room to make changes,” Gorin said. Additionally, trees, which appeared as though they might be saved would, in fact, be irreparably damaged during construction.

Thomas O’Kane, the project manager for Sonoma County Transportation & Public Works, accompanied Gorin on the outing. “Many, many people came out and said they want sidewalks,” he said. “We couldn’t have scripted a better response.

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