Recently, Public Works discovered that several heritage-class giant sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) at 1550 High Street had significantly damaged the sidewalk, creating a violation of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for safe walking surfaces. The giant sequoias had exceeded their growing space, creating a multitude of challenges for repairing the walkway to ADA standards. In consideration of the complexity of repairs required, the trees were posted with a notice of potential removal that allowed the public to comment.
The community’s response to the potential removal was overwhelmingly in favor of saving the trees, which led staff to meet the stakeholders onsite to discuss possible solutions and explain the City’s process when tree root and sidewalk conflicts occur. After receiving this public input, Public Works staff designed a creative walkway that preserves the trees by bridging over the existing roots, while at the same time extending the elevated portions of the walkway further to the south to meet ADA requirements for safe walking surfaces. This innovative solution should provide for safe, walkable sidewalks for at least the next 10 years.
Though a creative design worked for this particular location, not all conflicts between street trees and sidewalks are able to be resolved in this way, due in part to the surrounding environment, available right-of-way, and a number of other key factors. This situation highlights the challenges that the City sometimes faces in trying to meet the dual goals of a vibrant street tree canopy and safe, walkable sidewalks for all community members.
The sidewalk removal and installation was performed by the Public Works surface maintenance team. For more information, call Urban Forestry Supervisor Chris Girard at 541-682-4824.