Water, Gas and Light Commission employee Robert Coonrod removes limbs from a live oak Slappey Boulevard as part of an effort to remove trees along Slappey Boulevard that pose a risk to drivers and power lines. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
Albany Tree Removal
Work crews from Albany's Water, Gas and Light Commission spent Friday morning removing oak trees along a stretch of Slappey Boulevard as part of a combined effort with the City of Albany, the Georgia Department of Transportation and Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful to protect utility lines and drivers.
ALBANY — In an effort to protect city utility lines and motorists, work crews from Albany’s Water, Gas and Light Commission (WG&L) spent Friday removing oak trees along a portion of Slappey Boulevard.
The tree removal along Slappey is the start of a new combined effort between WG&L, the City of Albany, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful (KADB) to identify and remove troublesome trees that can adversely affect safety and then replace the trees with new, easier to maintain foliage.
“It’s just so dangerous having those old trees growing into the power lines,” said Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard. “We can’t predict the weather and if these trees or limbs came down in a storm it could create an emergency situation.”
Mindful of those who would be concerned about how trees being cut down could affect the aesthetics of the city, Hubbard said new trees would be planted that would be easier to maintain and still add beauty to the street.
“We are delighted to partner with GDOT, Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful and the city tree board to help keep Albany beautiful. We’re going to plant some beautiful trees here.”
According to KADB Executive Director Judy Bowles, the city will be planting a row of crepe myrtles along the stretch of Slappey where the oaks were removed because they won’t grow into the power lines and are easier to maintain for safety reasons.
“It’s a matter of putting the correct tree in the correct place,” said Bowles. “Crepe myrtles won’t grow as tall and get in the lines.”
Bowles, who said she has been trying to get the city and WG&L to do something about the “unsightly” trees for years, is pleased the project has finally begun, saying that the plan is to do more of these types of projects around the city each year. Along some of the more heavily trafficked roads, like Slappey, oaks aren’t as good a fit today as they were when they were planted, Bowles said.
“When these trees were planted Slappey was just a little two lane road, not a major, five lane highway,” she said.
Like Hubbard, Bowles is also concerned about public perception and stressed that these tree removal projects are being closely managed and will only affect trees that are already a problem and already unsightly due to the way they’ve been pruned over the years.
“The community thinks we’re going to take all the majestic live oaks out,” Bowles said. “The only trees we’ll take out are those interfering. We are tree lovers. But we also love our electricity, so something has to be done. We’re going to plant the new trees because how we look visually makes a statement. We’re known for our trees. I really want to stress that we’re not going to do something like remove all the beautiful oaks from places like Third Avenue. We’re known for our majestic oaks and we want to protect as many of them as we can.”
Friday’s work occurred on Slappey between Highland Avenue and Oglethorpe Boulevard.
Further tree removal areas have not yet been identified by Hubbard and Bowles, but they said most of the work will take place along busier thoroughfares throughout Albany.