Sunday, March 04, 2012


Unlike CM Peter Westerholm, I do not feel very charitable when giving credit for government stupidity where it is due.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation did not approach Salemtown for feedback before their recent I-65 highway repairs, and we could have used some noise mitigating elements. They even cut down trees that provided some buffer against the noise of large loud trucks.

So, I'm not surprised to read that TDOT--in the noble name of having a place to park some trucks--tore down $10,000 worth of trees in East Nashville that community groups had raised the money to install 3 years ago. I'm not surprised that they did not bother to pay attention to their own history of approving the trees in the first place or at least consulting the local community about the impact of construction:

Rediscover East! paid $10,000 to plant trees on the state’s right-of-way property on Woodland Street near the onramp to Interstates 24 and 65. The state granted them permission.

But last Friday, bulldozers showed up to raze the grassy area, and workers tore down the trees –– all 60 of them in the quadrant ....

TDOT officials say workers were using the space to store equipment for ongoing repairs on the interstate’s bridge.

“The state-owned space where the trees stood was needed to stage large construction equipment for the upcoming repair project to replace two bridge decks on I-24 over Main Street and over Woodland Street,” TDOT spokeswoman Deanna Lambert said in a statement.

“Anytime TDOT allows such plantings on our right of way, it comes with the understanding that we may need the space for a highway project,” she added.

TDOT officials say they intend to pay for the replanting of new trees.

“We definitely plan to replace these trees after construction later this summer,” said Toks Omishakin, TDOT’s assistant commissioner and chief bureau of environment and planning. “We will replace the trees with what the community wants and that also meets TDOT standards.”

Aw, geez. How big of TDOT. A community group beautifies an ugly stretch of highway, saving the State of Tennessee thousands of dollars; but TDOT destroys the stand but promises to pay revenue originally saved in order to replace the trees. The community attempted to exercise a little low impact environmentalism and conservation and the bureaucratic wizards and lumbering construction engineers wasted natural and financial resources.

Given the rate of inflation and cost of labor, will TDOT be able to plant as many trees in 2012 as were planted 3 years ago?

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