Trees at the southernmost end of the Fulton Mall are among the first to be cut down in a $20 million project to restore automobile traffic to a six-block stretch in downtown Fresno.
The city issued a notice, effective Monday morning, giving contractors a green light to begin work on the Fulton Street restoration, Mayor Ashley Swearengin said.
By Monday afternoon, nearly a dozen trees – African fern pines and camphor trees – between Kern and Inyo streets had been reduced to stumps or beheaded of their foliage-bearing branches behind chain-link fencing and green plastic screening.
North of Kern Street, several Chinese elm trees were surrounded by temporary chain-link fencing and marked with the word “nest” in bright pink spray paint – a signal to workers to leave the tree untouched until a biologist can determine whether nests identified in the branches are active and contain immature nestlings.
The trees are among about 140 with trunks that are at least six inches thick on the Fulton Mall, according to a 2013 inventory prepared for the city as plans were being made for the reconstruction project.
The section of the mall between Tulare and Inyo streets is the first segment of work to restore Fulton Street to carry trafficfor the first time since the mid-1960s.
In addition to the removal of some of the trees along the mall, including those deemed unhealthy, artwork along the mall also is being preserved for relocation as sidewalks are rebuilt and the new street, curbs and gutters are installed.
The overall construction project, from Inyo Street at the south to Tuolumne Street at the north end, is expected to take about 14 months since the ceremonial groundbreaking last month. Once the Tulare-Inyo section is complete, work will shift to the segment between Fresno and Tuolumne streets. The final segment will be between Fresno and Tulare streets.
Tim Schulz, founder of Revive Industries, plans to salvage some of the trees for lumber once they are hauled from the mall by demolition subcontractor Kroeker Inc. Revive Industries focuses on reclaiming lumber from buildings being demolished for reuse in new projects, including salvaging the bowling lanes before the Cedar Lanes bowling alley in east-central Fresno was torn down several years ago.
“I’ve been working with Kroeker, and they let me come in and mark a number of the trees that we wanted,” Schulz said Monday afternoon. Among the trees he expects to salvage are olive, carob and Canary Island pine trees.
“Once we can pick them up from their yard, we’ll take them back to our shop in Sanger.” There, the trees will need to be stored, then milled and the lumber dried before it can be used.
The trees that aren’t claimed by Revive will be ground for mulch. “Even if we don’t take the trees, they will be recycled,” Schulz said.