A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Tree wells: a streetscape update

Written February 26th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

So what’s with those wooden frames, square and sturdy as they look, around the newly planted trees in Albany’s downtown streetscape reconstruction?

I wondered whether the frames were intended to answer the complaint that some of the more than 200 new street trees in the downtown project had been planted too deep in the ground to thrive. No, that’s not it, City Engineer Staci Belcastro assured me.

“The contractor is not taking a shortcut,” she emailed me when I asked. “Staff is working with the general contractor, the landscape contractor, and city forester to ensure that the trees that were planted incorrectly are re-installed correctly, and at the correct depth. The cedar frames are being installed to retain the pavers and keep the sand installed around the pavers from falling into the tree well.”

The contract for Phase 2  (the main part) of the streetscape project called for 224 trees to be planted, at a price of $780 each for a total of $174,720.

The contract also provided for installing new 210 tree wells. (I guess 14 of the new trees went in existing spots.) At the bid price of $2,200 each — including pavers, sand and presumably the cedar frames — the tree wells came to $462,000.

What else is new with the streetscape project?

At Monday’s city council work session, Councilman Bill Coburn brought up the steel plates covering trench cuts in Ellsworth and Lyon streets. He urged the city staff to get the contractor to put down additional asphalt at the edges to lessen the jolts that motorists have been feeling. ODOT is scheduled to repave those two legs of Highway 20 this summer.

City Manager Peter Troedsson gave the council an update on the streetscape project last week. Furnishings including trash cans, benches and bike racks have arrived, he reported, and the cans were to be put in this week. The benches and bike racks will wait until paving and striping is complete later in the year.

On the money front, Phase 1 of the street and sidewalk reconstruction (around the post office, completed last winter and spring), cost $1,036,000. Phase 2, now winding down except for paving, is expected to total $8,786,000. That puts the streetscape total at $9,822,000, or $1,215,800 under the budget for both projects of $11,037,800.

Now, if we could just get those trench cuts smoothed out … (hh)


5 responses to “Tree wells: a streetscape update”

  1. Katherine says:

    $780.00 A TREE? WOW!! I’d love to see the breakdown on that invoice.

    • Stephenie says:

      I am also surprised by the cost for the trees and would be interested in understanding how that cost is broken down. I wonder why we don’t ask for volunteers for these kind of projects (tree planting). We have a lot of amazing community resources for the expertise and I’m sure community members would be eager to be a part of the downtown project.

    • Cheryl P says:

      Depends on the type of tree and the maturity of the tree. But you’re probably looking at around $200 a tree. Then there is the cost associated with the tree with includes delivery, labor and materials. Looking at the photo…that’s a two-person job. They will have to remove the brick, dig a hole, plant the tree, add appropriate nutrients, firm the hole, add in the frame and braces, secure the tree and clean up. That’s easily 2 1/2 to 3 hours per a tree.

      And let’s not forget…this is a government contract and even if the contractor didn’t pad the bid (it IS government work), there are costs they have no choice on, like labor, because the government requires ‘prevailing wage’. As an example, I used to work for a mason. We normally paid our general labor workers $6.00/hour (minimum wage was $4.25/hour back then), but government work required that we pay them $8.00/hour. In additional to increasing our gross labor costs, it also increased our payroll taxes and worker’s comp…the latter is based on gross payroll.

  2. Shawn Dawson says:

    Honestly, I don’t criticize all that is down with tax money, but $780 per tree plus $2200 per tree well? Trees are wll under $100 dollars at Tom’s or Garland or any other nursery in town. Surely they can be bought and installed for less.

    It may be too late for this project, but for future projects, how about writing the contract so that the wells are prepared for trees, but let the installation be done outside the contract by less expensive means.


  3. Mary Brock says:

    OMG! Half a million bucks for downtown trees so the elite can go out to eat along some shaded streets about 20 years from now! It is tax-payer money (through CARAA), so what the heck! (I’m being sarcastic, in case anyone wondered!)


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany Carousel Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal Andy Olson Benton County Benton County parks bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park Calapooia River CARA City of Albany climate change coronavirus COVID-19 Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path DEQ downtown Albany Edgewater Village global warming gun control Highway 20 Interstate 5 Kitzhaber Linn County marijuana medical marijuana Millersburg North Albany North Albany Road Obama ODOT Oregon coast Oregon legislature Pacific Power Portland & Western Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Willamette River

Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering