Home > Uncategorized > NJ Turnpike Officials Blame Trees – Not Cars – For Safety Risks

NJ Turnpike Officials Blame Trees – Not Cars – For Safety Risks

The Fault Lies in Our Cars – Not in Our Trees

[Update: 8/16/11 – Sandy Bauers at the Philly Inquirer reports similar problems along Pennsylvania Turnpike: Highway agencies’ tree cutting raises practical questions]

We’ve been following developments in “The Great Tree Massacre” along the Garden State Parkway (see this and this and this).

Frankly, I thought we hit an absurd low when we revealed that Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) global warming funds were used to expand the NJ Turnpike and increase our carbon footprint. 

As I noted, from an environmental perspective:

Ripping off clean energy money to pay for projects that make our carbon footprint even bigger is warped

But today’s Press of Atlantic City story reveals that NJ Turnpike Authority officials have broken even more absurd new ground.

They are blaming the trees – not the cars, drivers, excessive speed, alcohol, congestion, weather, texting, or failure to use seatbelts - for roadway safety risks:

Garden State Parkway tree clearing caused public outcry, but state says it could save lives


The Garden State Parkway was designed to exhibit the natural beauty of the area it travels through, but dozens of people have died in recent accidents after striking trees that line the roadway.

That is an absurd statement – the large majority of highway fatalities are caused by a combination of factors that have little or nothing to do with trees (trees technically are a subset of what highway engineers call “roadside obstacles“).

Obviously, the Turnpike Authority is reacting to the huge public outcry against “The Great Tree Massacre”.

They probably are doing this gross PR initiative in an attempt to minimize tree replanting requirements and to get out in front of expected huge public opposition to ANOTHER plan to Massacre 12 more acres of roadside trees. The AC Press reported:

The SJTA continues to clear trees to make room for its own ongoing highway widening from mileposts 8 to 31, planning to cut down more than 12 acres of trees along that length. Donelson said the authority submitted a plan in June to the Department of Environmental Protection that calls for planting new trees on 7.5 acres of SJTA-owned land and replanting the remaining acreage in adjacent properties.

Meanwhile, DEP Larry Hajna said the department is still reviewing a revised plan by the Turnpike Authority that would detail exactly how many trees must be replanted or how much money the agency must provide to the DEP in their place.

Will DEP rubber stamp this tree massacre plan too?

I grew up nearby and often travelled on the Taconic and Saw Mill River Parkways in Westchester County NY. The design of those roads is lovely – and corridor trees are the most important element in keeping the “park” characteristics in the “Parkway”.

It is simply mind boggling that NJ highway officials are being allowed to Massacre trees along the Garden State parkway.

The car is perhaps the single worst cause of multiple land use, environmental, energy, and public safety catastrophe’s.

So when state officials start blaming trees for our problems, you know we’ve truly entered The Twlight Zone.

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