Roadside Tree Planting and Maintenance in Connecticut

Roadside Tree Planting and Maintenance in Connecticut

Roadside Tree Planting and Maintenance: Whom to Contact?

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Roadside Tree Planting and Maintenance in Connecticut

Route 159, also known as Broad Street in downtown Windsor, is a state highway adorned with beautiful pin oaks. These trees are diligently maintained by the Town of Windsor under a permit from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

When it comes to dealing with trees along the road, it is crucial to determine whether it’s a state road or a municipal road. This distinction affects the procedures for planting new trees, maintaining existing ones, or removing them.

Municipal Roads

  • Most roads in Connecticut are municipal roads, controlled by towns or cities.
  • Trees on public land alongside these roads fall under the authority of the municipality’s tree warden.
  • The Tree Warden web page provides interactive maps with contact information for each of the state’s tree wardens, sorted by town.

State Roads

  • Connecticut has over 3,700 miles of state roads, primarily state highways with associated route numbers.
  • For example, Route 1 runs along the shoreline, while Route 41 passes through Sharon and Salisbury.
  • Trees along state roads are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation (DOT). You can find the correct contact for tree issues along state roads here.

Municipal Maintenance Along State Roads

  • In certain cases, especially in town and city centers, municipalities take on the responsibility of managing trees alongside state roads.
  • However, the municipality can only assume this responsibility with permission from the DOT.
  • For instance, the Town of Windsor maintains the pin oaks along Route 159, a state road, with permission from the DOT.
  • It’s important to note that the state retains final authority over state roads, and the tree warden automatically cares for and oversees public roadside trees on town or city roads.

Management of Trees Alongside a State Road: Planting, Pruning, or Removing Trees

To plant, prune, or remove trees or shrubs alongside a state road, individuals must obtain an encroachment permit from the DOT. This permit is similar to the one required for construction or land clearing within the DOT’s right of way.

Find out more about the DOT’s encroachment permit process here.

Connecticut State Laws Relating to Tree Management on State Roads

The primary state law governing the management of trees along state roads is CGS Sec. 13a-140. Some key provisions include:

  • The Commissioner of Transportation has sole authority to cut, remove, or prune trees along state highways to ensure safe and convenient travel.
  • Unlike town trees, there is no requirement to notify the public of the DOT’s intent to prune or remove a tree.
  • A written permit from the DOT is necessary before any individual or entity other than the DOT can cut, remove, or prune vegetation alongside a state highway.
  • A permit is required for trees over 18 inches in diameter, and the chief elected official of the local municipality must be notified.
  • Requests for tree, shrub, or vegetation removal shall not be refused if such removal is necessary for the most valuable use of the adjoining land.

CGS Sec. 7-149a outlines the designation of roads as “scenic roads,” including the role of mature trees in that designation. Regulations Sec. 13b-31c-1 to 13b-31c-5 provide guidelines for designating state highways as scenic roads.

DOT’s Tree Maintenance Practices

DOT assigns a Landscape Designer to each of its four Maintenance District Offices. These professionals oversee the condition of trees and vegetation along state roads in their respective districts and recommend necessary maintenance activities.

DOT’s tree maintenance activities are carried out by both DOT tree crews and contracted tree crews.

For further information, please contact the appropriate DOT Maintenance District Office.

To learn more about trees and urban forests, visit the Tips Tree Planting website.

Content last updated on October 2019

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