Life-Saving Plan to Cut Trees on Interstates will Cost Millions of Dollars

Tom Warne Report, 8 March 2013

WSB-TV – March 5, 2013

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Transportation is estimating that a proposal forcing the agency to cut down every tree tall enough to potentially fall onto an interstate will cost between $45 million and $75 million. State Rep. Al Williams of Midway proposed the measure after a fellow lawmaker was nearly killed by a tree collapsing on I-20 in Rockdale County last week, and killed a truck driver.

“If a tree falls on you, and you are driving 70 mph, it can have some tough, tough consequences,” said Williams. “If it saves one life, it’s worth everything we do.”

However, GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale said the department does not have available funding right now for such a plan.

“We appreciate the sentiment behind the bill,” said Dale. “What we’re looking at is 1,500 miles of roadway and about $30,000 to $50,000 per mile, so we’re talking about tens of millions of dollars which the department may not have at this time.”

Williams said the state could offset the cost of the work by allowing timber companies to bid on projects and then let them keep the cut trees, but Dale said the department’s estimates take timber sales into consideration already.

“It’s not very practical,” Dale said. “It’s a great idea, but it’s not very practical.”

The reality is you can’t afford to protect every citizen from every untold event that might or might not occur. You could spend $75 million on roadway or signal improvements and be reasonably assured of saving lives year in and year out versus worrying about whether a tree will fall or a meteorite will strike at some time in the distant future. TW

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