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Trees vs Sidewalk

DMc

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The Public Works Director from our city asked us to swing by and take a look at this situation. And offer suggestions. Trees are mature silver maples, probably between 95 and 125 years old.

His thoughts were to cut the cement and reroute the sidewalk away from the trees. Then, either pack the area where the cement was removed with soil or leave the section of cement attached to the flare and pour the new cement up to it.

I am curious to know if anyone has any experience with similar situations? And if so, how were they addressed?

I know removal of the tree is an option...got that. We are looking for resolutions not involving removing the tree.

Dave
 

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DMc

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Holy crap, were you looking over my shoulder?

Thanks for the link. Very interesting. Do you have experience with this product? We are in subzero country...

I'm stepping out to work now...no need to rush the response. :)

Dave
 

sotc

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no, just discussed it with our local city arborist. also talked a bit about structural soils
 
F

Frans

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Uh oh, the rubber sidewalk topic has arisen, again..
One other method is to use cantilever sidewalks.

Re-routing the sidewalk is another method. However in Alameda CA. the disabled people raised a stink about it.
 

Al Smith

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Usually the root pressure just blows the concrete apart .I've seen the walk cut out and segmented grating made of cast iron placed around the roots .Supposedly as the roots grow the iron can be cracked away from it .In actual practice though more times than not the roots would just encapsulate the grating . I've also seen a portion of the 'crete removed and pea gravel put in it's place .

They had a brilliant idea on a streetscape project here about 25-30 years ago.They left a big hole and sanded and paver bricked the whole mess it turned out those honey locust they planted not only blew the bricks out but also cracked the 12 feet wide uptown sidewalk .Back to the drawing board .
 

OTGBOSTON

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Had a big meeting with a neighborhood association, sidewalk engineers City councilor (troublemaker) and the salesman for rubbersidewalks. Conclusion was very expensive, no guarantees:|: you'll be back every year to 'fix' it:roll:

In cases like this I take 'em on a case by case basis. I am there when the concrete is removed and recommend what should be done after I get a peek at the roots. From the pics it looks like the thing is suckering out pretty good, silver maples get really big and are prone to rot (here anyway). I'd remove it based on the pics but I know you are looking for other options...

It looks like the tree has a pretty good area to grown in, I'd describe it as a tree lawn as opposed to a tree pit. This is good especially if you have to do some root pruning to get your nice, flat, 36'', ada compliant sidewalk. I would usually recommend blacktop go back instead of concrete, or sand and brick, both better than concrete imo.

Don't forget to prune the thing after the root work is done, reduce the sail, blah, blah, blah...

Given the new ADA standards it looks like more trees will have to come down and less trees will be planted on City streets:(
 

NickfromWI

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I'd reroute the sidewalk, for sure. It also might be worth seeing if you can talk to Greg Monfet, one of the higher ups here in Los Angeles Urban Forestry Division. They cut tons of sidewalk and roots to accommodate trees identical to what your showing.

This number should get you to him: (213) 847-3077. He seems to be a strong advocate of cutting sidewalks and roots to save the tree. Might be a good resource.

Rubber sidewalks- expensive...but I see them in a few places around LA and they are always very nice.

love
nick
 

DMc

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Thanks everyone for your feedback. Wow, Nick. That's great for you to give us this contact. I am specifically looking for people with experience in this same type of situation. I can speculate along with everyone else but it is not the same as having experienced it before.

A little more history. Last year the city's sidewalk project ran amuck for one of our clients and brought our attention to their techniques. The cement contractor was given the directive of removing all roots under the sidewalk up to and including grinding the buttress flair. This was indeed ALL roots under the sidewalk. With no consideration given to the state of the trees.

So after 4 months of my wife haunting the City Council meetings and Committee meetings with speeches and letters to the editor in the local newspaper they have revised their policy. They were also suppose to hire a city arborist who could answer and/or research tree-related questions but that position went out the door when new council members were elected.

But at least now we have got them to think before they cut. They still don't have a clue and need more guidance. So getting them a contact with this much experience to talk with is the best we can do in this circumstance.

Thanks again.

Dave
 
R

RIVERRAT

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I just have a question on trying to save a tree like that AFTER removing the side walk? But I guess a decision can be made after you reveal what your dealing with

I have never messed with some thing like this.
 

SkwerI

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Why remove the sidewalk? :?
It doesn't look like it's heaved enough to create a tripping hazard. And if so, the raised edges can be ground off to eliminate the tripping hazard. I'd try to leave it the hell alone until the tree needs to come out. Then replace the sidewalk at the same time.
 
R

RIVERRAT

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Brian, those are my thoughts.
I am left trying to make sense of it?
 

lumberjack

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+1 for Brian and Jeff.

I would NOT remove the concrete under the flared roots without good reason.

Is the canopy fairly balanced?
 

OTGBOSTON

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Why remove the sidewalk? :?
It doesn't look like it's heaved enough to create a tripping hazard. And if so, the raised edges can be ground off to eliminate the tripping hazard. I'd try to leave it the hell alone until the tree needs to come out. Then replace the sidewalk at the same time.
The new ada laws are very strict pertaining to grades and slopes and most importantly width. The feds are mandating the City of Boston to fix certain areas just because there have been complaints made (no matter how small) Imagine a City founded in 1630 with lots of brick sidewalks and old trees:|:
 

DMc

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Why remove the sidewalk? :?
I don't know. We are not part of the decision-making process as we are not hired by the City nor the tree owners. The trees have other issues that will need to be addressed.

The PW Director contacted us in his efforts to research options. We are just assisting in that process.

Dave
 

squisher

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Yah it looks to me like the sidewalk could just be widened on the streetside, lots of room. And if that's a tripping hazard then they need the appropriate signage: 'If you trip and fall on this, get up and dust yourself off, dumbass'
 

Al Smith

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Fact is many municipalities planted soft/silver maples because one,they are hardy and two they grow fast . Now most likely a hundred years have past and they are big fat trees . No body wants to remove them and nobody know how to deal with them to please everybody concerned .

If it weren't for silver maples the treemen in this area would not have nearly the employement they do .

Last week end I helped the neighbor slice a 40 incher that took the notion to try and stick it's roots through his septic tank . I have a dump truck full of the stuff in my woodpile as I type .
 

OTGBOSTON

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I'd reroute the sidewalk, for sure. It also might be worth seeing if you can talk to Greg Monfet, one of the higher ups here in Los Angeles Urban Forestry Division. They cut tons of sidewalk and roots to accommodate trees identical to what your showing.

This number should get you to him: (213) 847-3077. He seems to be a strong advocate of cutting sidewalks and roots to save the tree. Might be a good resource.

Rubber sidewalks- expensive...but I see them in a few places around LA and they are always very nice.

love
nick
A co-worker gave me an article about the ficus trees in Los Angeles, seems the city just budgeted 8.4 million for sidewalk repairs due to the aggressive root system of these trees.

And for those of you in the "tree saver" camp, a man in Anaheim was killed when a large ficus whos roots had been cut, fell on his car and killed him. His family settled for $700,000 out of court.

I love trees and all, but a big tree with compromised roots in the public way is a big no-no for me....
 

stehansen

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There are some streets in Modesto that have Camphor trees on them. Roots all over the place. I'll get you guys some pictures sometime.
 

Stumper

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Just do what the pinheads at the road dept. would do-Put up a sign that says "Sidewalk closed to through traffic." Leave room to get past the sign and go away and forget about the whole thing.

I don't wish those who are disabled any ill whatsoever but as a nation we should tell Congress to take the ADA, mandatory CFL lightbulbs, digital television converter boxes and a host of other make-work, meddling, socioeconomic manipulation schemes and shove them all up their butts sideways.
 
F

Frans

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...
I don't wish those who are disabled any ill whatsoever but as a nation we should tell Congress to take the ADA, mandatory CFL lightbulbs, digital television converter boxes and a host of other make-work, meddling, socioeconomic manipulation schemes and shove them all up their butts sideways.
I know you are just ranting but, I understand your viewpoint.
The real problem lies with the initial penny pinching attitude of the planners.

Low grade trees are planted by the contractors/planning dept. Because this is a deliberate choice they make, they should bear the burden of future related expenses.
Unfortunately, liability only extends for 7 years (in Cali) so the burden is passed onto future generations.

At least once a month I have customers ask me for tree choices. I tell them to compile a list which I will then review.
Usually they select several species which they see installed locally. These include
Big leaf maple
Bradford Pear
Ash
Chinese Pistache
Liquid Ambar
etc. etc.

they are puzzled when I say don't plant those. 'But those MUST be good trees because they are installed by the expert developers'!

Fact is, the ONLY reason they are installed is because the per unit price is far lower than any high value specimen tree.

As for tree roots 'getting into' septic tanks, or ripping up sidewalks, Just doesn't happen unless either the sidewalk concrete is over 30 years old and not up to today's building standards (code) or the septic tank/feeder lines are also out of date.

The problem of trees and hardscape cannot be effectively managed UNLESS there is a fundamental change in initial city planning philosophies.

We all have encountered that 'architect', or 'city planner' who wouldn't know a Camphor from a Redwood. But they are the ones the universities are pumping out with degrees which then allow them to land these jobs and make decisions which are inherently flawed.
The general public shoulders the burden in quality of life effecting accidents and aggravations. Such as stumbling over cracked sidewalks.
 

Al Smith

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make-work, meddling, socioeconomic manipulation schemes and shove them all up their butts sideways.
Well that certainly paints a picture taken in the literal sense .:\:

Now then,concrete,granite,what ever,root pressure will crack them all . If it doesn't crack it,it will encapsulate it given enough time .

On the other hand only an idiot would plant a tree close enough to a foundation, septic tank or whatever and think that it would not in time cause problems . Then too if they hadn't been so close treemen wouldn't have as much employement .Ya gotta kinda look on the bright side of things .
 
F

Frans

Guest
Now then,concrete,granite,what ever,root pressure will crack them all . If it doesn't crack it,it will encapsulate it given enough time .
The key word here is time. Concrete over time (a great deal of time) will revert of aggregate. When this happens, the structural integrity is lost.

On the other hand only an idiot would plant a tree close enough to a foundation, septic tank or whatever and think that it would not in time cause problems . Then too if they hadn't been so close treemen wouldn't have as much employement .Ya gotta kinda look on the bright side of things .
Thats alot to ask of a typical homeowner. "Think 30-40 years into the future". Who does that, Al? I want to meet them. If we all did that, then there would be no smokers, industry would not emit any toxins, and we would, most likely, all be unmarried :)
I don't place the typical homeowner as being an 'idiot'. They are just doing what is normal for them.

I do however have issue with planners, architects, landscape designers, etc. And the institutions which issue their diplomas. They teach this crap, and then the 'graduates' go out and preach their slop. To the detriment of the general public.
I remember when the ag. dept. preached to plant Monteray Pine. They said it was the 'ideal' landscape tree.

I think that there is plenty of work without such revenue enhancing schemes.
 
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