Tax Dollars Waste Watch: Mature Trees Near Gas Line Removed - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Tax Dollars Waste Watch: Mature Trees Near Gas Line Removed

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FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) -

Nearly 50 mature trees were ripped out of the ground along the Sugar Pine Trail in northeast Fresno.

The trees were removed along Shepherd Avenue between Maple and Chestnut Avenues.

It happened after PG&E found one of its gas pipelines ran directly underneath the tree roots and pose a hazard.

Fresno residents who use the trail are not happy.

Anthony Gutierrez says, "It ruins the atmosphere out here. You get all the noise now from the cars going by and you're not going to get any shade out here."

Piles of mulch and exposed irrigation lines fill the area where trees once stood.

Lee Ayres with Tree Fresno is surprised how quickly the trees were removed.

Ayres says, "We have to deal with this all the time. Trees have to be removed for safety purposes but it helps a lot more when there is a plan for how it looks later."

Ayres says PG&E removed the trees.

A recent study uncovered when city crews planted the trees some 15 years ago, crews placed the trees directly over the 12-inch gas line.

However, Ayres says records show PG&E never disclosed to the city a pipeline even existed along the easement.

Ayres says, "We had no reason to know at the time that there was a gas line here."

Denny Boyles with PG&E says, "We are not focusing on if this is the city's fault. It never shouldn't have been planted here. We are saying, we have a shared responsibility to protect the pipeline and reclaim the easement."

Boyles says after the San Bruno explosion, PG&E learned a lot of what it needs to do to maintain a safe gas system. Bolyes says access to the lines is vital.

So whether it was a communication problem or something else, how much money was spent to rip out the trees along the path?

No one knows for sure, however Tree Fresno says it costs $150 or more per tree, just to get them in the ground.

Ayres says, "We not only want to address the landscape for this section but we want to look at the air quality impact and the community at large. Hopefully there will be some provision for other trees."

PG&E says it does plan to make a donation to Tree Fresno to cover the costs of replanting new trees, elsewhere in the city.

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