SAN RAMON -- Eighty-five sycamore trees that shade Bollinger Canyon Road have again been spared the axe, at least for now.
No decision was made on the future of the trees at a city council meeting Tuesday night. Instead, a interim plan was agreed on to install temporary cement barriers on a troublesome eastbound section of the road.
Meanwhile, the council will weigh options and return to the issue at a later date.
In March, the council approved a traffic safety plan that called for the trees to be ripped out to allow road widening. Members backed away from that approach after a tremendous outcry from area residents.
On Tuesday, about 100 people turned out for the meeting.
"I think people made it very clear that they like sycamores," Councilman Dave Hudson said after more than a dozen speakers spoke out against removing the trees.
The mature, leafy sycamore trees in the median were to be cut down in June as part of the road-widening project, Eight cars have crashed since May 2010 into a fence there that separates the road from the sidewalk.
Police Chief Scott Holder told the council Tuesday that speeding was a factor in two of the crashes. The rest were caused by drivers failing to stay in their lanes.
In March, the council voted to approve the road-widening project, but when neighbors learned of the plan, they crowded into a June 12 city council meeting and spoke passionately for the trees, resulting in the
On Tuesday night, the project was back on the agenda. Anticipating the crowd, the the meeting was moved from City Hall to the larger capacity Dougherty Station Community Center.
One resident said the crowd would have been standing-room-only if the meeting hadn't been held on Back-To-School Night when many parents couldn't attend.
At the start of the meeting, interim city engineer Brian Bornstein presented the council with five options for the road:
Cost $1.1 million: Original proposal -- widen the road and remove all the trees.
Cost $1.5 million: Transplant the sycamores and replant 64 of them into the median when road widening is complete.
Cost $2.1 million: Widen the road by 18 inches and install a permanent barrier between the road and the sidewalk. Remove half the trees.
Cost $2.9 million. Relocate the sidewalk to the north side of the road. Thirty trees would be removed on the north side but the median sycamores would remain.
Cost $3 million: Widen into the neighboring golf course. No trees removed.
Residents then spoke against removing any of the trees. Several agreed that too many drivers speed up the hill in eastbound lanes. They asked for more traffic enforcement, the installation of rumble strips, construction of a new road into Dougherty Valley to relieve traffic on Bollinger and adjustment of a traffic light at the bottom of the hill to slow down speeders.
"Bottom line is don't touch our trees," former mayor Abram Wilson said to the council, causing the crowd to break into cheers.
Mayor Bill Clarkson said the K-rails are a temporary solution and that a permanent fix for the road is needed.
"That road right now is unsafe," he said. "All those trees are not worth one life."
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.