Trees and Sidewalks

Street trees are the ones which are planted along the way next to the sidewalk.  These trees play an important role in creating beauty, providing habitat for birds and in improving our quality of life by producing oxygen.   The flame ash street trees which line 35th Ave NE from Wedgwood out to where the arterial meets Lake City Way NE at NE 137th, soften the urban landscape and define the neighborhood as nature-friendly.

The oversight of Seattle’s street trees is under the Department of Transportation (SDOT) and they are requesting public input for the plan of what to do when trees and sidewalks both need attention.  What happens when a tree pushes up the sidewalk so that the area is not safe for pedestrians?  No one wants to lose a tree, but we need our sidewalks to be flat enough and wide enough for people to use.

The purpose of the Seattle Department of Transportation operations plan is to be clear about SDOT’s responsibilities and processes and to provide guidance on installation, repair, and maintenance of sidewalks and street trees in Seattle. The plan includes the following sections:

  • Best practices research from around the country that can inform the work SDOT does in Seattle;
  • A transparent decision process that explains how SDOT makes choices about keeping or removing a tree;
  • A toolkit of solutions SDOT can use to plant and retain healthy trees and provide accessible sidewalks; and
  • Three case studies that put the decision process and tools to the test.

A draft of the Trees and Sidewalks Operation Plan is available for review on SDOT’s website.  All comments are welcome and must be received by Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Please look through the plan and share your thoughts.

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