Bill Drafted to Target Dept of Transportation “Vegetation Management”

The Greenwich Tree Conservancy who will present a draft of CT Senate Bill 466, “An Act Concerning Vegetation Management by the Department of Transportation,” during a POCD Greenscape Implementation Task Force meeting on Wednesday, Feb 10.

The legislation is being sponsored by Greenwich Democrats Senator Alex Kasser (36th District) and State Rep Stephen Meskers (150th District).

The agenda also features an update on CT Dept of Transportation I-95 project by DPW deputy commissioner Jim Michel.

The meeting starts at 9:30am. Click for link to agenda and Zoom details.

The draft bill concerns vegetation management by the Dept of Transportation, which came to light when the I-95 improvements project was presented on Jan 21 via zoom. During the Q&A session with the public, questions focused on adding sound barriers to protect adjacent neighborhoods, given the project includes extensive tree clearing.

At the Feb 1 Byram Neighborhood Association meeting, residents of that community, which is also bisected by I-95 in the area of Exit 2, expressed concerns about noise and pollution. Greenwich First Selectman said he and Mr. Meskers had been having conversations with the Dept of Transportation and urged them to voice their concerns.

The project is open for public comment through Monday, February 22, 2021. Residents can email the CTDOT or call at (860) 944-1111. Reference Project No. 56-316 in your voicemail.

The proposed tree clearing for the I-95 project follows other recent tree clearing projects by the DOT and Metro North.

In December 2020 Metro North clear cut a massive swath of trees adjacent to Riverside School. Neighbors protested. The clearing proceeded.

(Residents Protest Metro North’s Tree Clearing in Riverside Dec 2020)

Large swathe of trees removed by DOT close to exit 5. Feb 1, 2019 Photo: Leslie Yager
Large swathe of trees removed by DOT close to exit 5. Feb 1, 2019 Photo: Leslie Yager

In February 2019, residents were upset about the cutting of Greenwich’s trees along I95 northbound between exits 3 and 4.

(DOT Tree Removals Along I95 Northbound Draw Ire from Greenwich Residents)

The DOT responded with a statement.

“…it is the Department’s responsibility to prune, trim or remove dead, dying, decaying or otherwise compromised trees and vegetation in the state highway right-of-way, abutting the road shoulder area and center-median of highways and ramps.”

The DOT said between 2012 to 2014 there were over 7,800 motor vehicle incidents involving tree strikes statewide, resulting in 147 fatalities.

They added that as part of the Department’s vegetation management program, reestablishment of a ‘clear zone’ along high speed roadways was a priority.

“Trees and brush were not present when the highways were constructed. However, due to years of deferred maintenance they have become hazardous to the motoring public.”

– CT Dept of Transportation, Feb 2019

Back in 2018, residents were shocked about the sudden and unexpected clear cutting of trees between Exits 3 and 4 along the I-95 corridor (in the right-of-way between I-95 Exit 4 Indian Field Road to Bruce Park.)

Bocchino Explains “Sudden and Unexpected Clear Cutting of Trees along I-95”

DRAFT Bill 466:


That the general statutes be amended to require the Department of Transportation to manage vegetation along highways and railroad corridors to curtail unnecessary tree pruning and removal and to prohibit the use of clear cutting in lieu of vegetation management and conserve urban and edge forests through adherence to guidelines developed to accomplish such goals.

See also:

DOT Hearing on 6.6 Miles of I-95 Improvements: Yes to Tree Clearing, No to Sound Barriers, No to Noise and Air Quality Analyses, 3-4 Years to Complete

Jan 24, 2021