A reader wrote in to us several weeks ago to report the lobotomization of several trees on Elmwood Avenue at the ramp from Route 95. Among the trees that had their tops sheared off was Elmer, who survived both the widening of Elmwood Avenue, which resulted in the removal of most of its namesake trees, and the construction of Route 95. The photo below was submitted by our reader and shows Elmwood Avenue during the construction of Route 95 in 1966. Elmer is visible at right past the bridge abutments.
Our reader reports the trees were pruned so that drivers on Route 95 would better be able to see the lottery billboard nearby (shouldn’t drivers be driving, not reading about the lottery?). I reached out to RIDOT for comment and was told:
RIDOT did not perform this cutting. The Department issued a permit that allowed for tree trimming close to I-95 near a billboard. The cutting went beyond the area outlined in the permit. The Department is investigating the matter further.
I have heard nothing more about the Department’s investigation.
The trees, not only are nice to look at, but in part help mitigate pollution created by Route 95. As the city struggles to find the resources to increase its tree canopy, it is certainly disheartening to see RIDOT allowing this to happen to trees within the city under its care. Our reader suggests that those who have interest in expressing their concern about this issue should address their emails and calls to Susan Votta, supervising landscape architect at RIDOT.