CANTON Within just a few hours, more than two dozen trees lining the villages Main Street were cut down, chipped into pieces and cleared away Tuesday morning.
The downtown landscape changed quickly as workers from Black River Tree Removal, Black River, hauled away numerous maples and other trees, including many that have decorated both sides of Main Street for more than 25 years.
Denise D. Russell, owner of Hair Designs, 76 Main St., watched the ornamental pear tree fall in front of her shop.
I realize it has to be done, Mrs. Russell said as she swept up remaining branches. Its just one of those things that come with progress.
It was necessary to remove the trees before crews start the main portion of the $9.6 million reconstruction of Route 11, according to officials from the state Department of Transportation.
Impact from construction likely would have killed the trees, said Michael R. Flick, a spokesman for DOTs Watertown office.
Some of the trees were already dying or considered hazardous, he said in an email.
Replacing underground water and sewer lines, upgrading the storm drainage system and installing new curbing and sidewalks are part of the 1-mile project that stretches from the Gouverneur Street intersection to Stiles Avenue.
Although she knew the trees were coming down, business owner Marilyn I. Mintener became emotional as she talked about the demise of the large maple tree in front of her gift store, the Pear Tree, 77 Main St.
The tree was planted there 33 years ago in honor of her mother, Lena LaDuke Infantine.
I knew it was going to happen, but I didnt want it to happen, Mrs. Mintener said. Those trees have just been a real asset to Main Street. I dont think a lot of people realize that.
Besides providing shade in the summer, in the winter the trees are decorated with white lights to celebrate the holiday season.
As the project continues, about 100 village trees will be removed, Mr. Flick said, noting that the work is supposed to finish late 2013.
Plans call for replanting about 130 trees, including five different species downtown. The trees planted in the downtown area will include cast iron ornamental tree grates covering planting pits.
The vintage lighting also will be taken down and eventually replaced with similar fixtures that are supposed to be sturdy enough to hold hanging flower baskets.
The primary contractor is Luck Bros. Inc., a Plattsburgh firm that was the lowest of four bidders. The companys $9.55 million bid was lower than the projects $9.8 million estimated cost.
Improvements also will include granite curbing and park-style benches in the downtown area. Sidewalks and sidewalk ramps will be handicapped-accessible, and mid-block crosswalks with bump-outs will be installed to facilitate pedestrian movement.
Once the project is complete, the village should look great and be operationally superior to whats there now, Mr. Flick said.
The contractor hopes to complete the downtown work this year to minimize the impact on Main Street businesses, he said.