Here’s a classic story of traffic engineering myopia. Officials at the Kentucky Department of Transportation are threatening to cut down 17 newly planted street trees in a Louisville suburb and bill the city for the work.
As reported by Next City and Louisville’s Courier-Journal, the trees had been selected and planted in part to ameliorate the area’s growing urban heat island problem. Louisville has lost 9 percent of its tree cover over roughly the last decade.
But Kentucky officials say the trees are a hazard to motorists along Brownsboro Road in Rolling Hills.
“We are not anti-tree at the Transportation Cabinet,” state highway engineer Matt Bullock told the Courier-Journal. “We are pro-safety.”
The state has given the city until Christmas to remove the trees. Local officials have accused the state of “selective enforcement” and even “harassment.”
Charles Marohn, the civil engineer who founded Strong Towns, said Kentucky DOT is looking at the problem in the wrong way. ”Street trees are dangerous,” he said, but only if “you have fast moving traffic.”
“They’re focused on the street trees and not the speed. Street trees are not a problem at reasonable speeds.”