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Posted: 5:33 p.m. Friday, May 3, 2013
By Scott Wickersham
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Eyewitness News discovered crews are destroying trees just put in two years ago next to Interstate 485 in Ballantyne. It's not a mistake. The North Carolina Department of Transportation said the workers are removing them for a new ramp that's part of the interstate's widening project. Workers are ripping, twisting and pulling out trees to make way for the new flyover ramp from Johnston Road to the 485 outer loop. The Department of Transportation spent $44,000 in stimulus money to add trees to other 485 interchanges. Channel 9 learned 200 trees were purchased for the interchanges in 2010 and half of the trees will likely be torn down to make way for the new ramp. "We didn't spend a whole lot of money, but we didn't have any idea that was going to be planned two years down the road," said NCDOT engineer Tim Simpson. NCDOT said the trees were saplings at the time and only cost $80. Some taxpayers were bothered by the expense. "Wasting money; make up their minds," said Joe Wells. "It's the principle of it. I'm retired Air Force. I know what the government does and they're always doing something stupid." Others said it's not a big deal. "Plans change. I mean, you can't foresee the future," Deborah Zahn said. Hannah Simmons agreed, saying, "I think that is just a part of building roads." The NCDOT said when the flyover ramp is done, there will be no more work at that interchange. It will likely go back and re-landscape the area and possibly replace the trees they're now tearing down. The other 485 interchanges that were improved with the stimulus money are at Providence Road, Wilkinson, Independence and Interstate 85 in west Charlotte.
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