to a recent article in the Amarillo Globe, it has been four years since “state
transportation officials” proposed cutting down both trees in the Texas
Panhandle. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. There are a few more than two.
TxDOT managed to count 1,185 trees – that were “encroaching” on Hemphill County
highways and proposed to cut every one of them down.|
In less threatening
terms, these trees simply lined highways 60 and 83. One theory at the time was
that motorists unaccustomed to seeing trees would fall into a trance and aim their
cars at them.
The local population opposed the suggestion of removal –
and the TxDOT engineer (Howard Holland) is quoted as saying “We're trying to cooperate.”
One is reminded of William Macy’s nearly verbatim line from the movie Fargo.
| Got a hat
on? Take your hat off! |
Enter Judge Steven Vandiver,
the plain-talking Hemphill County Judge. A man Will Rogers would’ve loved.
stated that TxDOT “built miles of guardrail to keep those trees from wandering
into the road.” He also suggested: "Why don't we just say, 'people, if you hit
a tree, you're stupid?'"
The plan to remove the trees and train Panhandlers
in the use of chainsaws would’ve cost an estimated $84,000. A bargain when it
comes to ruining the landscape. The installation of guardrails (and deflecting
pipes over culverts) cost about 4.4 million dollars – using TxDoT’s own figures.
Hollard VS Vandiver sounds like a Dutch lawsuit, the dispute never reached a docket.
It was Vox Populi that won the day.
Engineer Holland reportedly said that
there were three choices: remove the trees, install guardrails or do nothing.
A Groovy Solution
May we be so bold to suggest a fourth option? Perhaps District Engineer Holland
could borrow TxDOT’s scoring machine than grooves the shoulder of the highway
so that when tires run across the scored section it makes a sound guaranteed to
wake most nodding drivers (to say nothing of their traveling companions). The
sound may even have the unexpected benefit of frightening the trees into abandoning
their encroaching ways.
The Globe article went on to say that Canadian
citizen (and preservationist) Salem Abraham once told his fellow Canadians that
TxDOT could be trusted. His neighbors didn’t quite share his optimistic view.
the little girl who wrote the book report on Penguins, Abraham, who served on
the committee that reached the compromise, said he had learned more about guardrails
than he thought possible. District Enginner Holland was quoted as saying: "All
I've heard is, “I'm glad TxDOT listened to us and left the trees.'"
The story, written by reporter / photographer Joe Gamm contains
two photographs, one of which shows a memorial cross and an accident damaged tree.
The article also has generous supply of comments – overwhelmingly in favor of
keeping the trees.
One well-meaning comment stated: “There are better
places for trees.” As if they were planted by TxDOT and not “Mother Nature.”
my friends reveals the real source of the problem – birds. Maybe TxDOT has already
formed a committee to look into it.
Here’s the link to the Amarillo Globe
Tell Joe Gamm he did a good job.
Minutes of Separation"August
9, 2010 column