Fate of city's pear trees in hands of state engineers
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Whether or not the Bradford pear trees on the median of U.S. Highway 31 in Hartselle are allowed to remain or will have to be removed will depend on an evaluation and recommendation of a landscape engineer, according to Johnny Harris, Division 1 engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation.
The fate of the trees, the oldest of which were set out more than 15 years ago, came under question recently when similar plantings in ALDOT's Division 3 (Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount and Walker counties) were targeted for removal.
Harris said trees are not permitted in medians if they have trunks four inches in diameter or larger.
"In accordance with a division-wide directive, we are in the processing of identifying areas of concern, from both the standpoint of safety and liability," he said. "We will use experts in urban forestry to look at the trees we have in medians across the division and then we'll take their recommendations under consideration before any decision is made.
"We'll be working with the municipalities where illegal trees are identified."
Hartselle Mayor Dwight Tankersley said he has received no communication from the highway department about the trees but is aware that others located in medians in other parts of the state are under order to be cut down.
"I'd hate to lose ours because they're an asset to our community," he stated. "But they're located on a federal highway, which is under the jurisdiction of the state. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens. The decision is in their hands.
In the meantime the mayor said he would work with Hartselle Beautification Association to find other ways to beautify the median in the event the trees have to go.