Dec 22, 2009 9:36 PM by Ariel Wesler
The city of Santa Maria has begun clearing trees for its Union Valley Parkway project.
Phase one of the project will connect Blosser Road to Broadway. The project went through an intense environmental impact review earlier this year.
City engineers say it will help ease traffic in the area, but some living nearby say it will destroy the natural habitat.
Workers are clearing the way for the Union Valley Parkway project, a roughly $5 million dollar project engineers say is more than 50 years in the making, but it's making some nearby residents uneasy.
"The red tailed hawk and the red shouldered hawk both have nesting sites in that area. It's upsetting, very upsetting," said Carol Powell of Santa Maria.
She runs a wildlife rescue center out of her home. She's not only concerned about the wildlife, but the mighty old oaks.
"Driving down there, it's sort of nice, all those trees you know. . .Why couldn't they have designed the road so it goes around some of those old old trees that will take 100 years to replace?"
"It's mostly the non-native eucalyptus trees that are being removed," said Rodger Olds, a city senior engineer.
He says the project has gone through an extensive environmental impact review in the last year and biologists are also onsite.
"There have been some trappings set up to try to capture these animals and then release them outside the work area," Olds said.
The environment isn't the only issue surrounding this project. Some residents living nearby were also concerned with traffic and noise, so much so they hit the city with a lawsuit.
The lawsuit settled in March and the city agreed to put up a sound wall for nearby homes.
The city says the project is being funded through state federal grants and will help put local businesses and contractors to work.
City officials say neighboring residents were notified about the tree clearing process.
The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by July with construction starting next month.
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