Large number of mature trees being removed for Northeast 90th Street sidewalk project

At least one nearby business owner is concerned about a large number of mature trees being removed on Northeast 90th Street near Willows Road, to install a sidewalk, but City of Redmond officials say the trees must go for safety reasons.

A worker with Orting-based Silverback Tree Service cuts down limbs from a large Maple tree along Northeast 90th Street Wednesday afternoon. The project calls for the removal of 33 Maple trees to make way for a new sidewalk and bike path.

At least one nearby business owner is concerned about a large number of mature trees being removed on Northeast 90th Street near Willows Road, to install a sidewalk, but City of Redmond officials say the trees must go for safety reasons.

“Even though Northeast 90th is a bit like an industrial park area, the nice thing about Redmond is that usually they try to maintain green area anywhere they can. These trees were gorgeous, 40-foot tall trees that squirrels and birds lived in, and it’s a shame to see that it has to be turned into a typical barren ‘warehouse row’ kind of street without much green. Replacing 50-year old trees with saplings doesn’t do much good until 25 years down the road,” commented Charles Graves, owner of the Aqua Sports Kayak Shop on Northeast 90th Street.

Phil Day, the construction project manager for the City of Redmond’s 2010 Sidewalk Improvements Project explained, “The project will provide a new sidewalk, curb, gutter and wheelchair ramps on the south side of Northeast 90th Street between Willows Road and 154th Avenue Northeast.”

Day said, “A total of 33 trees are being removed and the reasons vary. Most are in conflict with the new sidewalk, which is restricted by the existing road on one side and parking for businesses on the other. Several trees were in the line of sight for drivers and are being removed for safety. Twenty-three new trees will be planted and 15 existing trees are being preserved.”

Day noted, “Tree removal decisions are part of the design process, which includes participation by various departments, including Public Works, Planning, Parks and Transportation. Each department has input.”

Property owners on Northeast 90th Street were notified and given opportunities to participate in the planning process, as well, said Day.

In addition, information about the 2010 Sidewalk Improvements Project was posted on the City of Redmond’s Web site at

http://www.redmond.gov/insidecityhall/publicworks/construction/downtown.asp.

Redmond City Council president Richard Cole said the project was approved by the council and added, “We are putting in a sidewalk and a bike lane along 90th. In order to build the sidewalk, the trees had to be cut down. Had there been another alternative, such as winding the sidewalk around the trees, we would have chosen it. There are more and more pedestrians and bikers using 90th. It has become a real safety risk. As part of our plan, we will be installing landscaping next to the sidewalk that will include trees. However, it will take several years before they mature.”

Cole continued, “This sidewalk was part of our annual sidewalk funding which is part of our capital improvement program. We have a list of missing sidewalks in the city. We build some of them each year. This project has been on the list for several years.”

While some residents and business owners may be unhappy about the loss of trees, Cole remarked, “Safety is one of our most important concerns. The situation along 90th was a hazard for pedestrians and bikers. While we always try to save trees, especially mature ones, it was not possible on this project.”

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