Caltrans will cut down thousands of trees to keep roadways safe

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- From now through next summer, don't be surprised to see Caltrans crews cutting down and trimming trees along state roads in all nine Bay Area Counties.

It's part of an effort to reduce the number of dead or dying trees that fall on to roads-- causing injury and death.

Along State Route 13 near Park Boulevard in Oakland crews were hard at work Friday making sure that trees, weakened or killed by years of drought, resided alongside, and not in the southbound lanes.

"So the trees are being removed to prevent possible damage to traveling motorists and to property," according to Caltrans spokesperson Chiconda Davis.

Davis says the agency has identified somewhere between 3,600 and 4,000 trees that need to be managed in all nine Bay Area counties-- to make sure that there's no repeat of a deadly accident from seven years ago.

Early one morning in March 2012, a 40-foot tall tree fell across the southbound lanes of State Route 13 at Park Boulevard. It disabled one car with four people inside.

While they stood on the shoulder, another vehicle hit the tree, went airborne, then hit and killed one of them, a UC Berkley freshman.

Critics accused Caltrans of being lax about tree maintenance-- but Davis says that's not true.

"Our primary goal is always safety and to make sure we are protecting the traveling public as they are using our roadways. And this is why this project is happening and why it is so important to get these trees down."

The project is already underway in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. A separate contract is being let for work in the north bay and yet another to cover work planned in Santa Clara County.

Caltrans warns there will be lane closures where the work is taking place as well as noise from chainsaws and wood chippers.

You can check out the Caltrans website for details of where they will be working.
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