60 trees get the axe to protect homes, drivers

WOODINVILLE, Wash.--  Heavy lifting along a busy stretch of Highway 522 in Woodinville. It's a steep slope above the busy interchange with State Route 202 and WSDOT contractors are cutting down and removing about 60 trees that are diseased and dying. If these dozens of trees fell, there's condos on one side and the cars of highway 522 on the other. "Seemingly healthy trees don't fall down for no reason," says WSDOT spokesperson Marquise Allen. Allen says the disease is called laminated root rot. It's a fungus that gets into the roots and prevents the tree from absorbing water and nutrients. The trees then die, or in their weakened state are vulnerable to insect invasion.

Keeping up with falling and leaning trees has been a tough task for many cities and counties this fall-- including Seattle. "Just a couple of weeks ago, we had a pretty knarly wind storm. So we wanted to get in there and get these trees down as soon as possible." Western Washington had record rainfall in October and with a soggy start to November, the soil in our region is saturated.

So, now is the time to take these trees down before Mother Nature does it with fall and winter storms. "It's always sad when we take down trees," says Allen. "We Iike to be good stewards of the environment. But the funding only covers taking down these trees." Since the 100-150 thousand dollar tree removal project is coming from their emergency fund, replanting that slope in Woodinville isn't in the cards-- for now. WSDOT says they'll be able to use the money from elsewhere in their general fund next year to replace the trees removed this week.