A Rush to Mow Down Trees in Independence

While Inyo Supervisors wrestled with the spectre of State government gone broke, outside the Boardroom, Caltrans chainsaws buzzed and rapidly moved through the town of Independence to cut down 100 trees for a highway widening project that might never receive funding, according to State officials.

Citizens had taken Caltrans to court to restrain the chopping down of the large number of trees on the main street until firm information comes through that the State will, in fact, fund the project. Several State officials have said the funding for the Independence project is subject to the spending freeze and remains in jeopardy.

Caltrans District 9 Director Tom Hallenbeck insists the money will be there but doesn’t say how. Hallenbeck had stated to the court Monday that crews would take a month to take down the 100 trees. Judge Brian Lamb then set a hearing for Caltrans to show more about the project funding with the possibility of a restraining order on cutting the trees.

Tuesday, construction crews and others said that Mr. Hallenbeck planned to get the trees down this week, with nothing left to challenge in court.

The State gone broke has created mean tensions in many corners.

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