Dinner had just ended when the door bell sounded. “Have you heard what is happening to some trees on Spaight Street,” a friend asked. “Get your camera and take some pictures before the sun sets.” Portions of that Madison street is in the midst of a major construction project that has been going on for many weeks, with no sign, as some residents told me, that there is any end in sight. So with a new battery in the camera I went to see what was happening.
What I found as I wandered down Spaight Street were some very upset people. As I was taking pictures residents came out of their homes to talk, and show me more tree damage from the very large construction equipment that was brought in for a narrow city street, given all of the trees that grow here. They showed me trees that had the roots destroyed. At least one huge tree will be cut down, another is in jeopardy of being lost. A woman had me into her home to see the new crack that runs down the center of her dining room ceiling from the reverberations of the construction equipment pounding this spring. Suffice it to say there are some very unhappy citizens, and voters in this area. And for damn good reason.
Talking with residents illuminated several points.
First, a person who previously worked in road construction, and lives on the street, told me that too large of equipment was brought in for a project that required due to the narrow street smaller and perhaps more time consuming equipment. He told me that smaller equipment would take longer to finish the project, but would be more appropriate for the street size and the trees. The large powerful equipment shook the ground, and created cracks in the foundations of the old wonderful Victorian homes that populate the neighborhood. There was no consideration taken into account for the old homes in the area when the street project was planned. I have already noted that there was no historical consideration taken for the carriage stoops in the neighborhood. The lady who had me into her home to show her ceiling was beside herself with frustration. She told me, “This is what I have been putting up with all spring and summer!”
Second, the numerous chunks of bark that have been stripped from the trees are astounding. Tree after tree, up and down the area under construction, shows the result of the large equipment. It was noted to me tonight that smaller equipment would have allowed the crews to get closer to the curbs without mutilating the roots of the fabulous trees. People in this neighborhood take great pride in the trees, and deserve credit for caring! I applaud them.
Third, I heard from more than one person about the frustration they had with the construction crew. “They come in and do whatever for a job, take the paycheck, and care nothing about the neighborhood.” Since I do not know anything about the work crew, I can’t judge that comment. I can only look at the results. After all, even the utility poles got damaged!
Fourth, it was brought to my attention tonight that cities like Milwaukee have a policy where construction crews pay a fine for damaging trees. When you see the pictures below I think it important to wonder what these trees will suffer in the years to come from lack of roots, and wounds to the bark. As someone asked me tonight, “Where is the accountability?” Indeed, where in the hell is it?
With the lighting it is not always easy to see, but I think most of the pictures make the point of the concerned citizens and voters of Spaight Street quite clear.
This tree is to be cut down after the roots were destroyed by the constuction crew. It was trimmed today for the removal.
You will note that some limbs that were cut from the tree to be removed still hang in utility lines near a home, and as such pose potential problems. Shoddy workmanship.
Tree after tree throughout the construction zone have had serious damage to the roots.
These are the type of tree roots that have been dug up on Spaight Street.
On top of the root damage are the scores of injuries to the trees with bark being removed by large equipment and carelessness.