163 trees to be cut down for street improvements

Posted at 4:08 PM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 18:08:24-05

Almost a year after the Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency launched an effort with downtown business owners redesign Main Avenue, the agency will soon begin preparing the five-block stretch of downtown Twin Falls for reconstruction –- including removing 163 trees.

Weather permitting, contractors are scheduled to work Friday, Feb. 17 through Monday, Feb. 20 to remove the trees “that will be replaced with species more suitable for urban landscaping,” said Twin Falls City spokesman Joshua Palmer.

The existing trees were planted in the 1970s and have developed root systems that are buckling sidewalks, officials said. Damage to the sidewalks has increased concerns about pedestrian safety and obstructing access for individuals requiring wheelchairs or walkers.

“If we had a choice of keeping the trees and retaining safe accessibility to downtown, we would certainly have elected to keep the existing trees,” said Dan Brizee, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency. “But unfortunately, when they were planted, about forty years ago, it was understood that they would eventually grow out of their footprint. We plan to replace them with a variety of trees that are full of color and are sustainable in urban areas.”

The new trees planned for Main Avenue include Parkway Maples, Tulip Trees, Newport Plum, and Chanticleer Pear, which are widely used in urban landscaping for their heartiness, vivid colors, and root bulbs that do not damage sidewalks. Despite their names, the trees bear little or no fruit, which will help keep the new sidewalks clean, Palmer explained.

“The removal of trees and landscaping will help prepare the area for Main Avenue reconstruction, which will begin in April and continue through fall of this year. The five-block reconstruction project will replace and upgrade deteriorating infrastructure, while also redesigning streets, sidewalks, and landscaping to be more conducive to current and future redevelopment,” he said.

The public is asked to not park vehicles on Main Avenue between Idaho Street and Fairfield Street beginning at 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 through 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20.

Contractors will close vehicle access on a block-by-block basis, but pedestrian access will remain open for the duration of the project.

Visitors are asked to use parking lots on Second Avenue East and Second Avenue West.

All businesses and pedestrian access will remain open during the project

After removal of the trees, three-foot stumps will remain to prevent tripping hazards on hidden root bulbs

“The agency will replace existing trees with new trees that are more sustainable in urban environment,” Palmer said.