By: Bailey Myers
July 17, 2013
Tallahassee FL- Don't be alarmed if you see downed trees on Tennessee Street in downtown Tallahassee for the next couple of days. The Florida Department of Transportation is taking them down, and closing a couple of lanes from Woodward Avenue to Wadworth.
It's all being done as part of the Florida Department of Transportation's repaving project. The removal of these trees is the first step towards the construction project, which is expected to start in Fall of this year, but everyone is excited about this change.
Local Arborist, Ann Bidlingmaier said, "For heaven sake those are trees that citizens paid for and put in the ground here in Tallahassee." She and dozens of other volunteers planted the Crape Myrtles on Tennessee Street some 30 years ago.
One passer-by, Martha Constant said, "Oh I think they are really pleasant, um they are definitely happy trees I like that they have different colored bark on them and that they bloom."
Those same trees are about to be removed by FDOT.
Bidlingmaier later said, "For FDOT to come engineers to come in and wipe out part of the highway beautification project, I think shows a real lack of sensitivity."
An F-DOT representative was unable to speak on camera, but SAYS it's their policy to get a permit before removing things like trees to show good faith but this time that didn't happen. That's because Tennessee Street-- or U.S. 90-- falls under FDOT jurisdiction. Florida Statute says they are not required to seek permission when working on a project.
Some local arborists like Bidlingmaier however, say the change just doesn't feel right, "I mean these are trees that I planted and I don't want to see my trees going out to the midway office." These trees will be replanted in the city of Midway, outside of Leon County.
The original plan was to remove eighty trees but after the public opposed that plan FDOT went back and reduced the number to sixteen. FDOT says this is phase one of a construction plan meant to improve Tennessee Street.