Please, help save these 2 iconic healthy heritage oaks at Montopolis that TXDOT shows as "to be removed" in their currentBergstrom/183 Parkway design. Please, call and/or email ASAP the contacts at CTRMA/TXDOT listed in pages 2 and 3 of this email, and ask them to honor their commitment and change the design and plan so that the historic Twin Oaks can be saved by either keeping them on site or transplanting them if preservation is not possible.
Austin Heritage Tree Foundation:
Click Read More for Email Addresses and also for the Full Email
1. Mario Espinoza, Deputy Executive Director, CTRMA,
2. Lt. General Joe Weber, Executive Director, TXDOT,
3. Kelly Reyna, Public Information, TXDOT,
4. Melissa Hurst, Communications Specialist, CTRMA,
5. Thomas W. Lowe, Project Director, Atkins,
6. Carlos Swonke, Environmental Division Director, TXDOT,
7. John Barton, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Engineer, TXDOT,
8. Steve Pustelnyk, Director of Community Relations, CTRMA,
9. Mike Leary, Environmental, Planning and Program Development Director, TX Division,Federal Highways Administration,
Austin Heritage Tree Foundation:
> At a May 28, 2014 meeting to further discuss the protection of the Gateway Oaks in Montopolis, CTRMA (Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority) announced they are abandoning the Bergstrom/183 toll road design option that would have spared two of the largest heritage oaks. The doomed oaks are referred to as the Twins and sit 10 feet apart just off the highway near Vargas Street. These beautiful old trees are 46 and 50 inches in diameter! They are likely more that 200 years old.
> I, representatives from the Austin Heritage Tree Foundation, and environmental advocates invited to this meeting, were shocked and dismayed at this reversal. I have worked with TXDOT since 2008 to save these magnificent heritage oaks from the 183/toll road. When Austinites learned that the oaks were to be removed, there was such public outcry from citizens, city leaders, legislators, and county commissioners, that TXDOT listened and recognized the importance and value of these trees to the community and made a firm commitment in writing to save all of the Gateway Oaks (see note below from Needham, TXDOT Director of Transportation). For years TXDOT never faltered from the commitment to spare the oaks. Meetings on road redesigns, critical root zones, Best Management Practices for tree care, were ongoing. CTRMA's Open House events, specifically created for community input, featured the Gateway Oaks preservation in Montopolis on posters and used the term "Gateway" to describe the area with the heritage trees south of the bridge, part of their Regional identity for the corridor. At the October 10, 2013 Bergstrom Expressway Open House CTRMA stated that the design changes “reflect community values and preserve natural surroundings.” These events touted their commitment to community input. At every public event, the community communicated preserving all of the heritage oaks.
> This history makes the reversal of the commitment to save the Twins a real betrayal. If TXDOT/CTRMA wants to save these trees they can find a way. Although they are saving 5 heritage oaks that are not in the path of the new highway, saving all the Gateway Oaks is what they committed to for the last 5 years. They recognized what these heritage trees meant to the community. These 2 iconic trees are irreplaceable. These historic oaks were likely here when the Alamo was fought. They are part of Austin's natural history.
> At the May 28 meeting a tree assessment from a certified arborist was presented. The Twins, considering their antiquity, were described to be in good condition. One of the trees was given a “low” risk failure assessment because of defects. These defects can be addressed, but at the meeting CTRMA stated that these defects increased the risk of preserving the trees in the median. The risk, CTRMA says, is that if the trees topple they could fall on cars. This has made their preservation undesirable and they will remove the trees. CTRMA did not offer to address these challenges or consider relocating the trees. CTRMA said they would not consider any other road designs to save these 2 trees and informed us that they had already sent the revised plan, a plan that leaves no median for the Twin oaks, to the Federal Highway Administration.
> This is surprising because CTRMA's Bergstrom Expressway website touted that their design changes and improvements will increase driver and pedestrian safety, reflect community values and preserve natural surroundings. Why is CTRMA not giving the extra effort to preserve these 2 historic Gateway Oaks?
> CTRMA said they would at least consider the possibility of relocating the trees if they could get approval from “higher-ups”. This about face in attitude and commitment is a real travesty not only for Austin's historic Gateway Oaks but also for the community input process that TXDOT/CTRMA presented as credible.
> I do not believe the people of Austin will let this to happen and allow these two healthy iconic trees to be removed.
> Please, call and/or email CTRMA/TXDOT today and tell them to honor their commitment to Austin's natural heritage and save the Twin Oaks by either preserving them on site or transplanting them if preservation is not possible. These trees can be transplanted and the typical survival rate is 98%.
You can make a difference saving these 2 healthy iconic live oaks at Montopolis that show as removed in the current TXDot/CTRMA Bergstrom parkway design. Please, call (preferred) and/or email as soon as possible the people listed below and ask them to honor their commitment and change the design so that the historic Twin Oaks can be saved by either keeping them on site or transplanting them if preservation is not possible .
Thanks so much!