Kill trees or trim trees? - Tucson News Now

Kill trees or trim trees?

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Tucson Transportation Department is moving ahead with plans to make 6th Avenue into a two lane street. But first it needs to be repaved.

Downtown is a patchwork of street repair which needs to be milled, smoothed and repaved to make way for the new streetcar.

But there's a problems. Trees.

The equipment used for some of the work is 15 feet tall. Trees overhand the streets and are sometimes just a few feet off the ground.

The solution, cut down the trees to make way for the equipment.

Take a trip up and down 6th Avenue South of University and you will see several trees cut off at the base, some in the past couple of days. 

"That's why people hate government," says Ward VI city council member Steve Kozachik.

Just a few months ago the Transportation Department was being lauded for a program to plant trees which have died or been destroyed during the Great Recession. Money for upkeep was non existent at that time.

So now the same department is being criticized for cutting down trees.

"Groom the trees, don't kill the trees," Kozachik says.

There are only three trees on Broadway near Scott in front of the Penca Restaurant.

It, and some nearby restaurant owners have applied for outdoor dining permits once the streetcar is up and running.

They'll lose parking spaces but will gain space for tables and chairs.

The air of outdoors is inviting, especially if it has come nice shade trees.

But the city notified Patricia Schwabe they'd be cutting down the trees for repaving, trees just outside the front door of her Penca Restaurant.

"They can't do that," she says. "They're the only trees we have."

She contacted Kozachik, who contacted News 13, who contacted the city transportation department.

"We met this morning," city spokesperson Michael Graham says. "We're not going to do anything until we can come up with a solution."

What the solution might be isn't known yet.

"Pull the trees back for the ten minutes it takes you or get some hand equipment," says Kozachik.

The transpiration says that may be an option. But there are others in the city who don't think the trees should be there in the first place.

The solution needs to be found soon. The first streetcar may be delivered to the city next week and testing along the route will begin.

"Think creatively," Kozachik says.

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