After a fatal accident in July, and subsequent reports of other potential hazards, the Virginia Department of Transportation plans to remove 59 trees along roads in the Great Falls area.
On July 17, Albert Roeth III, the 64-year-old owner of a trucking company, died after a large tree fell on his car on Georgetown Pike.
Following that incident, Fairfax County and VDOT began receiving reports of other potentially dangerous trees in VDOT’s right of way, according to spokeswoman Joan Morris. The county sent out a team of five arborists to inspect trees in the area and recommended removing dozens of them. VDOT’s arborist agreed with the recommendation.
“This kind of intensified the effort in the Great Falls area,” said Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville), whose district includes Great Falls.
Each of the trees slated for removal is dead or in decline, according to VDOT. The removal list includes 25 trees on River Bend Road, 15 on Browns Mill Road, seven on Beach Mill Road, six on Georgetown Pike, four on Walker Road and two on Utterback Store Road.
The work, which will cost about $60,000, will begin next week and likely is to involve some road closures, Morris said. Crews will be working from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and drivers can expect one of two lanes to be closed for as long as 15 minutes at a time, she said.
Bill Canis, co-chair of the Great Falls Citizens Association Environment Committee, said he drove by the trees slated for cutting and agrees they are good candidates for removal. The association members also appreciate VDOT not targeting large trees that still are healthy, including two large oaks near the accident site at Georgetown Pike and Walker Road.
“VDOT has pretty much ignored tree maintenance in Great Falls,” Canis said. “This is a good step that they are taking this interest. ... Good tree management is a good thing.”
VDOT does not have a comprehensive tree inspection program, Morris said, as the agency has one arborist for the Northern Virginia region and possibly millions of trees in VDOT right of way. However, the arborist inspects potentially hazardous trees identified by VDOT maintenance crews or citizens, she said.
“We can at least go check on trees that appear to be a major hazard,” she said.