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Campus tree removals for Garfield Avenue project set for December-January

Trees will be removed between Dec. 26 and Jan. 20 in preparation for a redevelopment project to begin this spring along the Garfield Avenue corridor on UW-Eau Claire’s lower campus.

The $12.4 million redevelopment project, which got the final go-ahead from the Wisconsin State Building Commission in August, was prompted by the critical condition of underground utilities running under Garfield Avenue alongside the Chippewa River from the base of the university hill to Park Avenue. Approximately 75 percent of the project budget is for replacement and some extension of utilities including water, sewer, storm water, natural gas, power, chilled water and steam utilities.

Before work begins on the project in the spring, workers will remove approximately 70 trees during December and January. A second phase of tree removal in December 2017 and January 2018 will remove another 24 trees. Removal of the trees to allow for the utilities replacement and extension work is being done during the winter before any birds would begin nesting in the spring.  Larger trees that are removed will be recycled through urban forest renewal programs that use the trees to create new wood products such as table tops and decorative doors. Some of those products could be incorporated into future campus building projects and renovations.

Approximately 213 new trees will be planted as part of the surface-improvements phase of the Garfield Avenue project. Surface improvements, anticipated to be completed by fall 2018, will include:

  • reconfiguring the south end of the UW-Eau Claire footbridge to improve safety and ADA compliance;
  • removing the existing Garfield Avenue street and creating a primarily bicycle and pedestrian thoroughfare;
  • removing the Putnam parking lot to create outdoor classroom space;
  • creating a scenic overlook along the Chippewa River; and
  • constructing a small outdoor amphitheater that can be used for classes, performances or informal gatherings, as well as new pathways along the Chippewa River.

Approximately half of the Garfield Avenue redevelopment project will be funded by state-tax-supported bonding, with the remainder funded through program-revenue-supported bonding.

In addition to the tree removals for the Garfield Avenue project, 15 trees will be removed during December and January in advance of the Towers Hall renovation project to begin this summer on UW-Eau Claire’s upper campus. Ten of those removals are due to the poor health of the trees, and landscaping plans are being developed that will include the planting of replacement trees as part of the Towers Hall project. Nine additional trees will be removed in various campus locations during December and January due to other facilities projects or poor tree health.

For more information about the Garfield Avenue redevelopment project, visit the project website.

Photo caption: An artist's rendering shows the concept for an overlook along the Chippewa River bank that will be developed as part of the Garfield Avenue redevelopment project at UW-Eau Claire.