Tree felling was scheduled to occur in three phases, with stage two being completed at the end of February and stage three to occur later in the year. However following recent safety checks of the trees, the final phase of tree removals will now occur through March to ensure safety of workers, motorists and the general public.
“Recent damage sustained from storms and the deteriorating health of a number of remaining trees has led to the decision to accelerate the final phase of tree removals,” Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said.
“Aborists have discovered rot and fungal infestations in a number of the already felled trees. Other uprooted trees have had smaller and shallower root balls than expected, which has also contributed to the decision to bring the final stage of the removal process forward.
“We have always said that safety is the number one priority of the project, and that’s why it’s necessary that we carry out the final phase of tree removals from the Northbourne Avenue median over the next six weeks.”
The Chief Executive of the National Capital Authority (NCA), Malcolm Snow said that the NCA had also conducted an expert review of the remaining trees in the Northbourne Avenue median in early February.
“The review found that based on the poor condition of the trees and the construction activity around them, we agreed with the recommendation they should be removed. The safety of workers and the general public must always be of the highest priority in undertaking construction works in our city,” Mr Snow said.
The government is continuing to explore options for the reuse of removed trees, including as new habitat for animals in nature reserves and local wetlands, and re-snagging in parts of the Murrumbidgee River to encourage biodiversity.
“There are a lot of exciting opportunities we’re exploring for the reuse of these trees,” Ms Fitzharris said.
“A tree replacement strategy has also been developed, with the planting of over 1,000 new trees to start in the late Spring or early Summer period later this year, pending the finalisation of the landscape design.
“I would like to thank the community for their patience and understanding during this important part of the light rail project,” Minister Fitzharris concluded.
More information on the tree removal program, including an update on the stages of works can be found on the Transport Canberra website at www.transport.act.gov.au