City of West Torrens' contractors have removed several street trees along George Street, Thebarton marking the beginning of major construction works which have been planned for some time.
The construction work involves:
- Removal of 14 of the existing 50 trees and the planting of 27 new street trees.
- Lifting the canopy of some trees (removing lower branches which hang over the road).
- Upgrading of major underground stormwater drainage systems.
- Installation of a roundabout at the intersection of Dew Street.
- Reconstruction of the road pavement, kerbing and footpaths.
- Construction of new indented parking bays.
While some residents have welcomed the start of a project, others are opposed to the work, in particular to the removal of the street trees.
The section of George Street from South Road to Dew Street is currently in a generally poor state of repair, particularly in relation to footpath and kerbing condition, as well as increased degrading of the road pavement.
Council has consulted with residents over several years and as a result has diligently considered a number of options for the reconstruction of George Street. Based upon feedback received that showed a strong desire to preserve the existing trees, Council has agreed to a plan that preserves the maximum number of trees while balancing the renewal of the existing infrastructure.
Consultation with the community, and ongoing feedback from residents, has elicited divided opinions in relation to what the most important considerations should be in association with a redesign and reconstruction of the street. The key subjects focused on existing street tree retention versus removal, preservation of on-street parking and the long-term cost of asset maintenance and replacement in the street.
The majority of the new trees to be planted on George Street are a variety of the Acer tree (see picture above). This species has been selected as it has similar characteristics to the existing Plane Trees, however has a less aggressive root system. While these trees will not grow to the same scale as the Plane Trees, they are better suited to the location, given the presence of overhead power lines and the narrow road verge.
During the past five years this project has been in consideration, several reports and associated design solution options have been presented to Council.
The first option, presented in 2013, recommended that all trees be removed and replaced with a more suitable species. After broad community consultation on this, which clearly showed a strong desire to retain existing trees, further options were developed which took this desire into consideration.
Most recently, at the 1 March 2016 Council meeting, three options were presented which acknowledged the community's desire to retain the existing street trees. These options were:
- Option 1 - Retain existing road configuration
- Option 2 - Narrow the road and retain the maximum number of trees.
- Option 3 - Narrow the road and maintain a balance between retained trees and on-street parking.
At this meeting, it was agreed by Council to seek feedback from those residents directly affected by the future upgrade works on these three options to ensure that the balance of services required by those residents was catered for.
Residents were provided with schematic plans for each of the three options and a detailed letter outlining the key elements of each option (with information on on-street parking preservation, existing street tree preservation and likely opportunities for new tree plantings). Further to this, a questionnaire was included, as well as an invitation to an information session at the Council offices on 22 March 2016. This session presented the options available and gave residents an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the various plans.
The questionnaire provided to residents asked them to comment on each upgrade option and to give reasons why they liked or disliked various elements of the proposed options. Additional information gathered from this feedback enabled Council Administration to more clearly understand the desires and drivers of many of the respondents. Revision of this feedback showed that there was not overwhelming support for removing or retaining all of the existing street trees.
The Council decided that the solution to the road upgrade which would bring the greatest balance from overall community feedback received would be the adoption of a version of the Option 3 design. This position was formally adopted at the Council meeting in August 2016.
Since that time the Council has allocated and approved funding in its 17/18 budget, finalised detailed designs and secured contractors, materials and service alterations. The project is expected to take around six months to complete. Plans can be viewed here pdf (986KB)