To Whom It May Concern:
DOTD must budget for and prioritize the complete and equivalent replacement of all, if not increase, of trees removed by the widening of I-10. Roadside trees are not only environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing, but they demonstrate to locals and passers-through alike that Baton Rouge is a forward-thinking, conscientious city that embraces the spirit and beauty of Sportsman’s Paradise in urban settings. Since at least the mid-nineteenth century, urban developers have recognized the social, civic, psychological, aesthetic value of natural spaces in the midst of urban settings. Trees in the middle of an interstate may not provide the same escape as Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park or Portland, Oregon’s Japanese and Rose Test Gardens, but remain in the same noble tradition. Baton Rouge, as the capital of a state long recognized for its lush and abundant natural beauty and resources, should embrace this image and tradition. What better way to represent our community and state than to feature historic natural value simultaneous with modernizing transportation improvements? On a personal note, the trees Baton Rouge Green and others have planted along and between the thoroughfares and in the middle of on- and off- ramps are a genuine and consistent source of joy. Quite simply, they are pretty and they make me happy. Also, as a Calcasieu Parish native, I still feel a sense of loss, regret, and sadness when driving that last stretch of I-10 between Vinton and the Texas border because the state removed very old and absolutely stunning oak trees between the east- and west-bound lanes many years ago. Please do not make this mistake. Many, many others have similar sentimental attachments and I hope you will respect these values and local pride in the planning and budgeting process. Thank you for your time.
DOTD will be replacing trees in accordance with their Significant Tree policy and will replant where, possible in coordination with Baton Rouge Green.