Big rig hauling oversized load rips apart trees on Slaughter Lane

Austin

A southwest Austin neighborhood is worried large oak trees along Slaughter Lane are in danger after an oversized load was brought down the street pulling down dozens of limbs on Saturday. People who live in the Circle C area say the crew eventually started sawing the branches down but didn’t treat the tree, leaving it susceptible to oak wilt.  

“It really hurts to see these trees torn up like this,” said Trent Patterson who lives near Slaughter Lane. “The trees are part of the reason that we love this part of town, it is beautiful and these trees have been here a very long time. We are trying to do everything we can to save them because there is oak wilt in this area and we are losing trees.”

Several KXAN viewers sent emails and photographs of the truck being moved through the area and causing the damage. The name on the side of the truck shows it was operated by Barnhart, a company that specializes in lifting, heavy-rigging and heavy transport.

Barnhart says it worked with local and state authorities to obtain permits before transporting the cargo.

“During the haul some tree branches along Slaughter Avenue were broken inadvertently,” the company said in a statement. “Others were trimmed not only to allow safe passage but to prevent further damage to the trees. Barnhart has hired a certified arborist to help clean up the debris, inspect the trees, and seal the cuts to ensure the health and viability of the trees.”

“There’s about a whole mile of damage up and down Slaughter Lane. It looks to me like this equipment was just tearing into the tree and pulling branches out before they started using the chainsaw,” said Patterson.

On Monday morning a crew could be seen cleaning up the debris left behind and sealing the cut limbs. The company hired to seal the limbs, Brents Tree Service, tells KXAN the trucking company caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to the trees.  

“The rigging company that came through contacted us and said they were making a mess and they would like to see if we could come out and do the best we can to fix the problem,” said Michael Tassler with Brents Tree Service. “Obviously, I don’t think they realized what they had gotten themselves into.” 

Tassler says his crew is examining each branch that was torn off, re-cutting it, sealing it and sanitizing equipment between each tree to make sure they aren’t spreading any kind of fungus. 

While Tassler and his crew work to protect the trees, the city of Austin says it has also dispatched a crew to take steps in preventing oak wilt. The city agency that manages the right of way was not involved in the movement of this construction equipment. 

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