Trenches to Trees
The DDA aims to make Huron more pedestrian-friendly.
From the August, 2019 issue
Three projects are tearing up Huron St. this summer. Most disruptively, DTE is replacing a gas main in the roadway from Fourth Ave. to Thayer. Most innocuously, the U-M is putting in improvements around the Power Center. But most significantly, the DDA is adding a traffic light by the YMCA at Chapin and Third, improving the street lighting--and replacing all the trees.
"The city forester determined that few, if any, of the existing trees were in a healthy vigorous condition," explains DDA spokesperson Maura Thomson by email. Even the healthy ones wouldn't survive the installation of underground electrical lines for the new streetlights.
Among the casualties: a row of buckeyes planted in the early 2010s across from City Hall. Thomson says she's not aware of any complaints about that Ohio State namesake in the heart of downtown, but the trees had been struggling.
To give the new ones a better chance of survival, they're putting in larger pits protected by raised curbs and grates, with permeable pavers to let in more water. Some spots, however, won't be replanted because building vaults extend under the sidewalk.
The goal is "substantial, healthy trees along the corridor," Thomson writes, "to provide a continuous pattern of trees to promote a more pedestrian friendly environment."
Weather permitting, the utilities, road work, and planting should all be done this fall.
By next spring, Huron should leaf out with hackberries, ginkgos, Kentucky coffee trees, black gums, honey locusts, tree lilacs, oaks, and elms--but no buckeyes.
[Originally published in August, 2019.]
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