A number of trees slated for removal during highway widening at Blackheath and Medlow Bath will now be spared.
But one which locals fought to save – an evergreen oak on the highway at the corner of Govetts Leap Road – will go.
The RMS has responded to the 100 submissions it received about its road widening plans – half of which referred to the trees – by abandoning large-scale clearing at three separate areas around Blackheath.
Spared will be the sections of highway vegetation between Evans Lookout Road and Chelmsford Avenue on the eastern approach to town, the area near the cemetery and a third area between Radiance and Sunbeam avenues.
The RMS has now agreed it will “seek to retain existing street trees where possible”.
In the next phase of the project, the detailed design, a qualified arborist will assess the impacts of roadworks on street trees in the two towns.
“The assessment would seek to provide recommendations to minimise the impact of the proposal on street trees and confirm the viability of trees identified to be retained,” the RMS said.
Hollow branches and trunks felled plus any bushrock disturbed during construction will also be relocated to adjacent bushland where possible.
This is in response to concerns raised in the submissions that cutting down old trees with hollows would remove important habitat for a range of native birds and animals.
The RMS report in response to the submissions noted the most common points raised were tree removal, pedestrian and cyclist facilities, traffic and safety and loss of parking.
The main intersection in Blackheath – of the highway and Govetts Leap Road – was of particular concern.
Eight parking spaces on the western side of the highway in that area will go, as well as the much-admired oak and a second tree, to accommodate turning lanes.
“Roads and Maritime acknowledge the reduction in parking”’ the report said, “however the safety and travel condition benefits that would be achieved are considered to outweigh any potential impacts.”
In Medlow Bath, 90 trees will still be removed around the Bellevue Crescent intersection (near the service station), mostly radiata pines and some eucalypts. This will allow for a dedicated right-hand-turn lane.
Detailed design of the proposal would seek to retain existing street trees where possible.