Tree cutting on First Street. Photo courtesy of Xavi Moreno

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While many community members are expressing concern about the cutting down of trees along First Street between Boyle and Soto Avenues, the work marks the beginning of phase two of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Access Project.

The plan is meant to transform and beautify the walking street between Mariachi Plaza and the Soto Street station. The project includes tree removal, tree planting, sidewalk reconstruction, lighting installation and street furniture.

Originally, the plan called to reconstruct the tree wells around the Ficus trees, but the decision to remove them was made after other options were considered.

“Tree improvements were considered, including trimming roots,” said President of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council Eddie Padilla. But because of previous root trimming there was a danger the trees could fall down.

Ninety-one trees will reportedly be removed, but two trees will be planted for every tree that is cut down.

While signs were posted regarding the tree cutting, many community members were not aware of the reason behind the removal.

Last week, a group of artists started a movement “PoeTree” to post poetry on the fated trees, in protest of money spent on such projects, and the lack of money put into arts programs.

The Eastside Access Project is a $12 million improvement project, funded by Measure R, which was approved on the ballot in 2008.

Project construction will take place between the hours of 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday. Parking restrictions will be in effect from 6:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

For questions regarding the project, community members can contact the job site supervisor, or the Bureau of Street Services Special Projects at (213) 847-2966.

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