Feb 23, 2011 7:44 PM by Carolyn Cerda
A 150 year old oak tree in New Iberia will soon be on the move. It's travel expenses are being paid with tax dollars. The tree is called "Mr. Al." Recently, petitioners convinced the Department of Transportation and Development not to cut it down.
"Mr. Al" is currently in the way of construction of a new service road along highway 90 near Freyou Rd. As it is now, the service road dead ends on either side of the tree, forcing drivers to travel about a mile to interchanges in order to go around the tree. It's an inconvenience Kelli Peltier doesn't mind enduring. Her house is located behind the tree.
"It's massive, and it's a part of our history," said Peltier. "I just remember it being full of life, green and pretty."
DOTD decided to comply with the request to not cut down the tree. Instead, they looked into three other options.
"The community asked us to keep the tree," said Bill Oliver with DOTD. "We either had to let the road dead end on either side of the tree; move highway 90, which would have cost $6.5 million to $7 million; or move the tree to the interchange. We decided that was the most feasible."
Oliver says moving the tree will cost the department an additional $300,000. He says it is the best option for everyone involved.
"Keeping the tree would have stopped frontage road," said Oliver. "It would burden local businesses and sugar cane farmers who have to travel all the way to interchanges. Therefore, with concern for the community we decided to move the tree."
Although Peltier would have liked for the tree to stay put, she says this option is fine.
Peltier said, "I'm just happy they're moving it and not cutting it down."
Oliver says the tree will be moved about one mile up highway 90 to the Jefferson Terrace interchange. The move should be complete in one month.