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by: DAVID F. ASHTON - The removal of 45 hazardous trees caused some highway traffic congestion along northbound S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard in March. Many days in the month of March, traffic on northbound S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard (Oregon Highway 99E) was restricted to one lane between the Bybee Bridge and S.E. 17th Avenue, to allow highway workers to perform as lumberjacks.

“The [tree removal] work we’re doing there goes back to the winter storm in February,” explained Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Portland/Metro Public Information Officer Don Hamilton.

“During the windstorms, two cottonwood trees came down along McLoughlin Boulevard, within about 20 minutes of each other,” Hamilton told THE BEE. “One of the trees was in the northbound lanes; the other, in the southbound lanes, struck a car.”

Especially when two trees come down, in the same area and at the same time, it is ODOT’s policy to examine other trees in the immediate area.

“A prompt inspection by an ODOT forester determined that eight nearby cottonwood trees were rotten and needed to be removed right away, as soon as the windstorms abated,” explained Hamilton.

These aren’t the larger old trees that provide the green leafy canopy over the highway during the summer, he added. “Our arborists say cottonwoods are the ‘weeds of trees’. They’re a hazard because they get top-heavy, and the root system cannot support the weight of the trees.”

As work progressed during the project, arborists took a closer look at the stand of trees. “Further inspection showed that even more trees needed to be removed – along a quarter-mile stretch on the east side of McLoughlin, south of S.E. Harold Street,” Hamilton said.

In all, about 45 trees were felled during the project.

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