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May 15, 2013

Riverside Drive residents want input on replacement trees


Riverside Drive resident Phyllis Croce said part of the allure of living along the river thoroughfare is the trees that dot the landscape. 

Or, the trees that, until recently, stood there.

“Unbeknownst to me, about 10 days ago, the Edwards Company under contract with the bridges’ engineers cut down all of the Oak species that are along West Riverside Drive ... from the [Interstate] 65 bridge to the [Big Four Bridge] ramp,” Croce said.

To make way for homes to be moved as part of a settlement agreement reached for the Ohio River Bridges Project, a number of trees were removed along Riverside Drive in Jeffersonville. The pact reached between Indiana Department of Transportation, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, National Trust for Historic Preservation and conservancy group River Fields Inc. calls for the relocation of five historic homes in the path of a new Interstate 65 downtown bridge to new locations within the city. In order to be able to move the homes, INDOT has cut back about 15 trees in the city’s right-of-way, and streetscape trees on the south side of Riverside Drive were also taken out before the houses can be moved.

INDOT has agreed to replace those trees torn down with “trees of similar size and species,” according to an INDOT press release. 

However, the Riverside Drive residents had suggestions before the state’s transportation agency replaces any of those trees.

“What I am suggesting is we figure out the net loss of those trees and replant them in our community, looking for canopy species,” Croce said.

She explained that the canopy trees would help mitigate some of the heat created in the urban areas during the summer. One of Croce’s Riverside Drive neighbors offered another reason to see the trees replanted somewhere else in the city.

“I don’t want the trees in front of my house, because the reason I live there is the view of the river,” said Beverly Knight, who also lives along Riverside Drive. “I think there are a lot of places in Jeffersonville that could use the trees. If we could all be contacted, and worked with, as to where those go, so that we [can] keep our view and also have those trees put back in areas that are better served.”

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