(KMTR) -- Eugene Public Works is responding to concerns over new bike path improvement construction on the Willamette River near Alton-Baker Park, as crews are planning to cut down a few trees in the process.
While major construction along the bike path isn’t slated to begin until summer 2012, crews will soon remove 7 to 8 trees along the bike path beginning in February 2012.
The tree removal is against the wishes of some residents, but city project managers say it is necessary to get the work done and also minimal.
The work will take place across about two-thirds of a mile of bike path between the DeFazio Bridge on the west side to “Leisure Lane” on the east side (Leisure Lane is just about 600 feet past the Alton-Baker boat ramp.)
The work will target several different elements on the bike path. In one part, crews will replace an asphalt section with concrete, increasing its life span from 15 to 50 years. The concrete will also serve users with better grip. Crews will also replace some rocky “exposed aggregate” surfaces with concrete as well.
Mainly, crews will expand the bike path from 9 and a-half feet in width to 12 feet. Most of the path will also get new 2 foot shoulders on both sides.
That’s where the tree removal comes in. Crews have to take out a few trees that currently sit very close to the edge of the existing bike path.
City crews posted flyers on the trees designated for removal on January 3rd, 2012. Since then, a letter to the editor appeared in the Register Guard, protesting against the removal plan. Someone also posted several protest signs along side the city flyers.
The city says it has gone out of its way to avoid removing many other trees. The trees designated for removal are also considered non-native and “problematic.” Each tree will also be replaced at a 2 to 1 ratio.
“One section we've realigned maybe an 80 foot piece of the path to avoid removing four trees that are more significant than the ones we've posted, says John Bonham, Project Manager for Eugene Public Works.
Ultimately, the city is moving forward with the project because of the increased bike path use. The city estimates about 1,000 people use the Willamette River bike path near Alton Baker Park each day.
“When you're on the section of path, walking around enjoying the surroundings, you really have to be looking over your shoulder for bikes, so the width will add safety there,” says Bonham.
As another element of the project, the city will also install lighting along the pathway between the boat ramp and the DeFazio Bridge.
The project's cost is still coming together, but about 85% of it will be paid for by the Federal Government.