Trees torn down along South MoPac will be replaced

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — When construction crews started tearing down trees along South MoPac at Slaughter Lane this week to clear the area for new lanes and a revamped intersection, people started raising concerns about the removal of the greenery.

When homeowners said it seemed like the contractor had marked too many trees for removal, they contacted the Texas Department of Transportation before it was too late. TxDOT determined too many trees were earmarked for removal and stopped the crews before any damage was done.

While construction requires trees to be uprooted, TxDOT says there’s a plan to replace what gets uprooted. The agency and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center have the Green Ribbon Program in place to make sure native vegetation is restored once all the construction is completed. TxDOT implemented the  program to transform concrete-dominated landscapes into ribbons of green. The program covers landscape improvements, like planting trees and shrubs, enriching soil and installing irrigation.

Diann Hodges with TxDOT says a change in the common green scene is inevitable projects of this size. “In order to accommodate that growth we do have to take into account that some trees at times need to be removed.”

The Wildflower Center has developed a native seed mix that will be laid down once construction is finished. This will help return some green that’s been replaced by a concrete jungle and it will help reduce air pollution.

“[It’s] to make sure when we have projects that go through areas that we are doing the right thing and re-developing that area as best as we can,” explains Hodges.

The project to construct two main lanes in each direction on MoPac underneath Slaughter Lane and La Crosse Avenue, as well as a new Diverging Diamond at MoPac and Slaughter, is expected to wrap up in 2021.

South MoPac at La Crosse Avenue in southwest Austin. (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)

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