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17 Jul 07
The Braddell Tree: It's like losing a friend
TWO people with differing viewpoints.
By Andre Yeo
TWO people with differing viewpoints. One a tree-lover who grew up in a kampung, climbing trees. The other a civil servant entrusted with explaining government policy.
At the centre of their good-natured disagreement - an 80-year-old Angsana tree on Braddell Road. To cut or not to cut?
The Land Transport Authority had decided last week to remove the tree, citing near-accidents on that stretch. Workers began cutting branches yesterday morning and removed the entire tree by 7pm.
This was a reversal of the LTA's decision two years ago to let the tree remain. It sits in the middle of Braddell Road where work on the Lornie-Braddell flyover is on.
The LTA's sudden decision to remove the tree after spending $200,000 on drainage and other work to save it, surprised many and riled nature-lovers.
Mrs Angie Ng, who is in her late 60s, thinks of the tree as a friend. She grew up in Geylang when it was still a kampung with lots of coconut and fruit trees. The retired secondary school teacher, a committee member of the Nature Society (Singapore) plant group, attended a meeting at the LTA office last week to hear the explanation for removing the tree.
DON'T BLAME TREE
Mrs Ng, who recently took pictures for a book on old trees at the NUS Bukit Timah campus, did not leave the meeting impressed.
She said: 'Some of LTA's reasons for removing the tree are valid like certain motorists not driving safely and almost being involved in near-accidents.
'But then, should you blame the tree for their speeding? It is these speeding motorists who should adapt to the tree and not the tree to them.'
Mrs Ng felt that while LTA was right in thinking about safety issues, it had not exhausted all possible solutions to save the tree.
She made some suggestions to LTA's senior executive (media relations), Mr Aaron Chong, yesterday.
Both were at Braddell Road to witness the tree's removal. Mrs Ng felt speed-reducing strips could be placed before the tree so motorists would have to slow down.
LTA had said in a statement last week that it had observed motorists not keeping to the 40 km/h speed limit as they approached the tree. This had resulted in several near-accidents on that stretch of the road, which splits, with lanes going around the tree.
Several members of the public had also informed LTA that the tree posed a road hazard.
Mr Chong explained to Mrs Ng that the stretch of road leading up to the tree was not long enough to install the strips. As the road had a series of bends, he said the strips would pose a danger to motorcyclists who might lose their balance as they negotiated the bends.
LTA had also said that it had painted a double white line on the road before the tree, and placed warning and speed limit signs before the split road with 'slow' markings on all three lanes.
But it found that many motorists did not heed these markings and failed to slow down, often not keeping to their lanes.
In an e-mail reply to The New Paper yesterday, LTA spokesman Naleeza Ebrahim said: 'We have made the decision to cut the tree following numerous rounds of reviews and deliberation. 'Over the last two years, we have reviewed the traffic situation, put in extra measures to get motorists to slow down and have considered several alignment options.'
There had been feedback from motorists about near-miss accidents on that stretch. 'Based on such feedback and our observation of motorists' behaviour, we have come to the conclusion that removing the tree is the best, if unfortunate, course of action to prevent any accidents,' the spokesman said.
When the flyover is completed early next year, motorists will be able to have direct access to Lornie Road from Braddell Road. LTA said the split should be removed by 7 Aug, leaving a straighter road.
Mrs Ng sighed as workers sliced through the tree with chainsaws. She took pictures of the operation.
She even took home two pieces of the branches to remember the tree by.
'It's like losing a friend,' she said.
more links in responses to plan to cut down Braddell Angsana tree
Related articles on heritage trees
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