Trees felled to keep road safe

By Roger Moroney

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The giant poplars along the Hawke's Bay Expressway, which are "past their use-by date", are slowly coming down. Photo/Glenn Taylor
The giant poplars along the Hawke's Bay Expressway, which are "past their use-by date", are slowly coming down. Photo/Glenn Taylor

There are no plans at this stage to replace more than 30 large poplar trees being felled along the Hawke's Bay Expressway south of the Tutaekuri Bridge.

The trees were planted more than 40 years ago and were originally intended to be a short-term addition to the roadway stretch.

"But they have since gone past their use-by date," regional highways manager Chuck Dowdell said.

The trees had got to a size where they had become a safety risk to motorists.

"We know that a lot of people are rather fond of the trees, and so are we, so it's with a heavy heart that we remove them," Mr Dowdell said.

"But we need to do this work now otherwise the trees will start to deteriorate and pose a risk to public safety."

Branches were beginning to overhang the roadway and the species was known to become brittle after reaching maturity.

"This work will remove that risk before it becomes a significant concern."

Contractors had so far removed seven of the 32 trees and were cutting them down piece by piece as they posed a potential safety hazard to the public and contractors if they were felled whole.

Pampas grass along the stretch was also being removed as it was considered a noxious weed.

Mr Dowdell said at this stage there were no plans to plant new trees in the area and that the New Zealand Transport Agency were considering low-cost "landscaping options".

The work is expected to be finished mid-way through next month.

Until then stop/go signalling and speed restrictions will be in place during the day, although the work was being timed around morning and afternoon peak traffic hours to avoid major disruption.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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