Photo: The Florida Times Union

“The drive along Interstate 95 in Georgia gets uglier by the day as trees are taken down, but state transportation officials say the clear cutting will improve safety.

The ‘vegetative management projects’ along I-95 are aimed at reducing the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries along the interstate corridors in the state’s coastal region, said Jill Nagel, spokeswoman for the DOT’s District 5 office in Jesup…

The projects consist of removing all the vegetation inside the right-of-way and anything that’s hanging over the fence. All the cut trees and brush is then mulched flush with the ground, Nagel said.

Actually, not all of it. One of the contract companies loaded a couple of trailers with saw timber pine logs Tuesday at the Woodbine exit.

No grubbing will be permitted so the soil surface won’t be disturbed to remove stumps or roots.

Photo: The Florida Times Union

The clearing of trees will benefit billboard companies who will no longer need to get permits to cut trees to ensure their signs can be seen.

Starting in 1963, the Garden Club of Georgia had lobbied for control of signs on Georgia roadways and was successful in getting hundreds removed. More than 15 years ago, the Georgia legislature adopted a statute to allow the clearing of trees from in front of billboards. The Garden Club sued saying the law violated the gratuities clause of the Georgia constitution but the courts ruled that billboards also benefited Georgians…

The DOT is monitoring the projects to ensure the work results in visual quality.”

— Terry Dickson, The Florida Times Union

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