Trees to fall on Main Street because roots aren’t so sound
Downtown association to replace dead, dying pines
The allure of downtown Grand Junction is found when you look down at that frosty beer brewed right here or the glass of wine made with local grapes. Or when you look straight ahead at that funky piece of art.
It’s also found when you look up at the canopy of trees that line Main Street, providing shade and aesthetics you’re not likely to find in the middle of other cities.
But about three dozen trees will be dug up early next year and replaced as the Downtown
Development Authority spruces up of a four-block stretch of Main Street.
The removal and replanting will alter the landscape for years to come, as saplings take the place of mature stands. But city officials say the change is necessary.
That’s because, they say, the 35 or so pine trees and the few shade trees planted in the 4-foot circular planters are dead or dying.
“Every one of them is in severe decline, probably 60 to 70 percent on the way out,” said Mike Vendegna, the city’s parks superintendent.
Vendegna said the concrete planters sit on top of concrete, meaning there’s no room for the root systems to grow. The pine trees have grown only a quarter-inch a year, when Vendegna said they should have shot up a foot to 18 inches annually.
He noted that the original plan for Operation Foresight — the project completed in 1962 that gave Main Street its serpentine design — called for rotating the trees out based on a 25-year life expectancy. Nearly 50 years later, the original trees remain, making them long overdue for replacement.
Vendegna said the trees in the 4-foot planters will be removed and replaced with larger shade trees with roots can sink directly into the soil. He said the larger sycamore and locust trees that are planted either in the smaller 2-foot planters or directly in the ground are healthy enough to remain.
Although the sycamore and locust trees are doing well, the city will run into a problem when it digs up Main Street to replace an old cast-iron water line.
Vendegna said the contractor hired to install the new pipe will encounter roots that have spread underneath the street. City forestry technicians will work side-by-side with workers to deal with any exposed roots.
“Everything will be geared to as minimal damage as possible,” he said. “Our goal is to maintain those sycamore trees as much as possible.”
The Main Street project also will feature the installation of more lighting, reconstruction of crumbling brick planter walls and the addition of more restrooms and play areas. The project will cost more than $3 million. The DDA will pick up the tab.