Monday, December 17, 2007

William Street Plane Tree Neglect

The saga of the William Street plane trees continues with the Daily Telegraph report below highlighting the RTA finally taking responsibility for the failure of the so called 'Green Boulevard' and the waste of (ultimately) public money. I have been pursuing this matter since the plane trees were first being planted by the Cross City Tunnel contractor over a year ago. At that time I alerted Council staff to the neglect the huge (and at that time healthy) trees were being subjected to during the planting phase. Unwatered, wilting and planted as though light poles and not living valued trees - I asked our staff to intervene. The response at that time and consistently each time I have raised this mess with the Council has been that 'the assets will be rectified by the contractor prior to hand over to the Council'. This is where the problem lies. I suspect no tree expert or aborist was engaged by the CCT to monitor the planting and after care. The results speak for themselves. Residents, business owners, workers, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and other commuters will have to wait at least another year before we may start to see the promised green canopy pictured below begin to emerge. Trees are not just assets but valued living investments in our urban environment. But then who would have thought you could kill the much maligned and pretty indestructible plane trees? only the RTA.

Plans wilt as RTA kills trees on William Street

By Justin Vallejo, Urban Affairs Reporter
December 17, 2007 12:00am

A PICTURESQUE corridor of newly-planted trees was supposed help a run-down William St become a Parisian-style boulevard following the opening of the Cross City Tunnel. But with the RTA bungling its planting and maintenance effort, up to 64 of the 73 trees are either dead or dying. Instead of a leafy, tree-lined avenue with thick greenery blowing in the wind that was promised in countless artists' impressions, the skeletal grove that has emerged will have to be hacked away by chainsaw this week

Click here to see the depressing pics for yourself.

The RTA has accepted responsibility, offering to replace the trees and hand over management to council after a failed two-year landscaping attempt. The disaster comes days after The Daily Telegraph revealed the State Transit Authority had killed native birds at its Ryde depot. A City of Sydney Council spokesman said they would begin removing 33 of the trees that were beyond salvation from Wednesday.
Another 31 poorly trees will be monitored over the coming months, but hope is fading that they can be saved. Only eight trees are in good condition, while another three planted recently by the council are also flourishing. "Thirty-three replacement plane trees will be planted in April when the weather is more amenable to tree planting to maximise growth and tree health," a council spokesman said. It is the latest scandal to plague the Cross City Tunnel project, which has experienced falling patronage, speed camera controversies and community outrage at road closures.

Council experts found the trees were dead or dying because:
 SOME trees were planted up to 280mm too deep and were covered by too much soil;
 THE PH levels of the soil found within the root balls of some of the dead trees was high, possibly from concrete found in the soil;
 THERE was poor root growth in some trees;
 SOME of the roots did not appear to have been pruned prior to planting; and
 THE trees showed signs of a lack of water.

What was promised:

1 comment:

Paul R said...

The need for a green canopy along William Street is critical given the fact we are going to lose the green canopy of Hyde park in coming years.

The expected death of the canopy at Hyde Park is nothing short of a major tragedy for this City.

What's the point of "green Christmas Cards" from the Mayor that talk in platitudes, when you have major challenges such as Hyde Park and William Street where the Mayor is clearly failing.