|The image above and all images in this post were taken by Dr. Rick Bonart.|
Instead of trees, TxDOT is now planting cacti and ocotillos:
So, what's the story? Although there is an irrigation line including bubblers to the trees, the area is above any local water tank. It seems that no pumps were provided so the trees went without water and died. To remedy the situation, TxDOT directed the contractor to plant cacti and ocotillos. Tim Twomey of TxDOT explained:
"Most of the trees died in the Paseo to Plexxar section. This was due to the fact that there was no water service in the area and the proposed irrigation system could not feed this area due to the steep grade. We attempted to establish the trees by change order with an installed pump system followed by hand-watering efforts. As we only have 6-months remaining on the two-year plant maintenance period, we directed the Contractor to remove the dead vegetation and replace them with native landscaping (cactus). We plan on continuing hand-watering for the remaining six-months that should be sufficient to establish the new vegetation."
Removing the trees and planting with something other than trees is a violation of the development ordinance which clearly states planting native evergreens at 12 feet apart.
The contractor is obligated to water the vegetation for only six more months when the care of the landscape is turned over to the City of El Paso. It is doubtful that the City will follow its own ordinance. Instead expect it to merely keep the cacti and forget about the trees. John Balliew of El Paso Water (formerly EPWU) has offered to help but will he be asked is the question.
Hikers and bicyclists were counting on the shade - something neither TxDOT nor its contractor seems to be willing to provide in violation of the terms of the development.