Thousands Of Dying Trees Pose Risks Along Bay Area Highways

KCBS Radio Special Report

Carrie Hodousek
October 04, 2019 - 5:00 am
Caltrans crews cut down dying trees along Bay Area highways

Carrie Hodousek/KCBS


(KCBS Radio) - Caltrans is working to remove thousands of dead trees along Bay Area highways that could potentially cause a safety hazard to drivers.

Dry conditions have prompted crews to cut down branches, limbs and entire trees that could snap and fall onto the road.

“Because these trees have suffered so severely from the drought, we want to get them out before they die completely and they have no stability and they fall,” said Chiconda Davis, a spokeswoman for Caltrans Alameda County West Office.

The project is taking place in phases across the Bay Area. The removal process started along Highway 13 in Alameda County where workers were using a new remote-controlled claw technology to trim trees.

“It’s basically a robotic arm that has a clamp that holds the branch and saws it at the same time and then transports it either to the ground or straight to the chipper,” Davis said.

The technology, which is being used by Caltrans for the first time, eliminates the need for workers to climb dangerous heights.

“The workers are safer because they’re not climbing trees to saw them by hand or electric saw,” Davis say. “The operator is a distance away from the tree that’s being cut.”

An arborist has iden​tified nearly 4,000 dying trees along Bay Area highways.

Drivers can expect lane and ramp closures mostly during weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Caltrans plans to launch tree removal projects in all nine Bay Area counties with the goal of finishing the work by next year.