Friday, August 26, 2016

2 Freeway: What Difference Do Trees Make? Part 2

Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 18, 2009.  The scale of the loss of trees on the 2 Freeway adjacent Corralitas Drive is only evident when people are in the photos with trees.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

It's hard to imagine the southbound lanes of the 2 Freeway are about 15' away from the urban hikers of The Big Parade 2009 on Corralitas Walk.
Photo: Lupita Chapa, August 5, 2016.  A month after the Silver  Lake Fire, CalTrans began removing the 50+ year old enormous Eucalyptus and Brazilian Pepper Trees (that for the 26 years I've lived on Corralitas Drive) have formed a 30-40' tall green barrier between Corralitas and the Southbound lanes of 2 Freeway.

Don't expect to see new trees planted here. CalTrans is under water restrictions imposed by Governor Brown.  If we're lucky, we might get some ground cover to help prevent erosion.  I've spoken to two CalTrans representatives who have told me, on multiple occasions - even before the Silver Lake Fire, trees planted on freeway parkways do not clean the air, control dust, mitigate sound, provide psychological benefits or provide a safety barrier.  I guess trees lose their ability to do those things when they're planted on freeways. 

Yes trees planted today won't mitigate much right now.  However, that is no reason to ignore the long term effects of tree planting.

Earlier this year Doug Brown, Senior Landscape Architect for CalTrans was quoted in a Scientific American story, "When managed properly, trees are proven cost-effective mitigation measures that sequester carbon.”  (Sequestering carbon is how trees remove pollutants from the air and store it underground.) 
Photo: Lupita Chapa, August 5, 2016.  As far as public safety goes, there is only about 50 feet of guard rail near the freeway signs that cross the freeway, which are north of where the cars usually fly off the freeway  - to be stopped by the large (now removed) Eucalyptus.

CalTrans is concerned about the safety of drivers, not the safety of those who have chosen to live next to a freeway because it was affordable.  Until the Silver Lake Fire, and CalTrans' subsequent removal of trees their landscape experts deemed necessary, trees made living across the narrow street from the freeway tolerable.