View Full Version : documenting an intersection

05-28-2009, 10:14 AM
In the small town where I live, there is an on-going political debate concerning traffic management. One side of this political divide has suggested adding left turn lanes at a particular intersection and increasing the width of one of the streets involved. This action would require, among other things, the removal of many large walnut and native oak trees. Some of these trees are probably 200 years old.

I would like to document the intersection and connecting road - especially the trees and landscaping that might be affected. The primary objective would be to produce documentation that would aid in the discussion of the alternatives. Obviously, I would like to persuade the decision makers to choose another alternative

Do standard methods or techniques exist for accomplishing such a project?

Suggestions or examples are appreciated.

05-28-2009, 10:44 AM
hi brad ...

the standard methods that you have been using, to give
"a sense of place" in your downtown / street photography
can be used here as well. once the trees are vanished,
it will be hard to remember what the intersection looked like
when they were there.

try to think about seeing the trees from a distance, from across/down the street,
maybe from a nearby building or looking up
... and in different conditions ( rain, dusk, dawn, nighttime, lots of cars, no cars ) ...

it is sad when trees like those are cut down ... it sounds like a great series
and service you are doing!

good luck :)


Nicholas Lindan
05-28-2009, 10:51 AM
You should move to Ohio. We are taking down traffic lights - there isn't enough traffic left on the roads to justify the electricity. What with the lack of traffic we will soon have Oaks and Chestnuts pushing themselves up from cracks in the center of the street.

Christopher Walrath
05-28-2009, 11:03 AM
Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry9000/ Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/

Ansel Adams used prints to lobby for national protection of wild areas. Just make spectacular photographs, print off some 8x10's and have at it.

Thomas Wilson
05-28-2009, 11:04 AM
I feel for you, but doubt that much can be done to stop "Progress." As for documenting the intersection, connecting road, and surroundings, I would suggest that standard photographic principles would apply.

The decisions to "Improve" roads and intersections are generally based on raw data, which are gathered with electronic traffic counters. Sentiment and emotion are generally omitted from the equation.

Even traffic fatalities are measured in a cost/benefit analysis. An "Acceptable" number of deaths per mile driven may rise or fall, depending on the cost of engineering a safer roadway.

Not knowing any specifics to your case, I can't offer any plausible suggestions. I would, however, try to find out who planted those walnut trees (think Historical Trust). I might also find an insect, protected under "Endangered Species" legislation, and photograph it "Thriving" in the walnut grove.

On a side note, about 25 years ago, I spent countless hours photographing (documenting) what had been my playground as a kid. It was rolling hills surrounding a deep valley, a big bass-filled pond, and a babbling brook. It is now an exclusive golf club surrounded by very large homes on 4-6 acre lots.

I think it's about time I print these 4x5 negs & transparencies and peddle them to the management of the club, and the home owners.

05-28-2009, 02:39 PM
Well, I don't really want to stop progress but if possible, I'd like to do what I can to influence it to proceed somewhat sensibly. Actually, I'd be really happy if the present city council and planning commission followed the general plan that has been in place for over twenty years.

Worse case, I guess, I can hope that some of the documentation may be of interest to some future historian.

05-28-2009, 02:53 PM
brad -

talk to your state historic preservation officer and local historic preservation planner
for the town you live. they might PAY you to document the streetscape and the trees &C.
i was contacted by a group and i am waiting for my authorization to proceed doing
exactly that ... documenting a busy interesction - streescape, trees &C - so there is a visual record of what will
be altered since time is marching on ...


ps. tell them it will be archivally processed + printed like a HABS documentation ... that may help you ;)

06-10-2009, 06:50 AM
You should move to Ohio. We are taking down traffic lights - there isn't enough traffic left on the roads to justify the electricity. What with the lack of traffic we will soon have Oaks and Chestnuts pushing themselves up from cracks in the center of the street.

Hmmm, ohio sounds like a great place!

Mike Wilde
06-10-2009, 08:43 AM
You would not want my 'neck of the woods'. I live in an auto focused suburban city of 600,000.

Near my house is the intersection of two major roads, Dundas Street ( six through lanes and auxilliary right hand turn lanes, and double left hand turn lanes at the intersections) and Winston Churchill Boulevard (four through lanes and auxuliiary right hand turn lanes, and a single left hand turn lane at the intersection. Fortunately this was all a farmers field before development took off, so there were not a lot of trees to bump off. It would be intersting tor see how Dundas Street evolved, for it was an original settlement road that runs back to the early 1800's. Winston Churchill was the 9th concession road from the late 1870's before suburban settlement moved in.

06-10-2009, 09:44 AM
I have a beautiful Walnut tree in my front yard, squirrels and birds love it, the squirrels clean out the nuts each year before anyone can harvest them. The tree was there when our house was the only one in the area, it was a primary school one hundred years ago. My neighbors who died last year lived in the neighborhood since the 1930's having built their house, the second one up the hill on a dirt road in the forest of trees, said the tree was fully grown then. It's old and has thick limbs twisting from bad pruning over the years. The leaves just came out a few weeks ago. We also had a telephone pole on the corner not far from the tree. It had been there for over 50 years the PUD told me. It was listing so they decided to replace it. In order to do it they needed to trim back the Walnut tree a bit. I told them it was a specimen tree and very old and much admired by the neighbors. The supervisor said they would only cut what was necessary for the wires to pass.

I watch and wait and finally the cutting crew came while I was out. As I drove up to the garage all looked fine but when I walked to the front I almost fell over. They made a half tree out of the upper branches. Hold up your hand and look at the palm, then turn your hand. Get the picture? I now call it my half Walnut tree. One squirrel ran down a wire and was going to jump onto a branch but stopped and just stared. It was too far to jump. I told my wife I will never trim that tree again. Instead of going under ground they put up another pole that will be there for another 75 years. A good shovel read project would be to put all the wires underground in this country and plant trees in the place of telephone poles.

06-10-2009, 04:52 PM
Be careful of what you wish for. I've seen underground wire trenching kill old trees from damaging their root system.

I do agree, many utility companies are to severe in trimming beautiful trees.


Mike Kennedy
06-10-2009, 05:22 PM
A few years ago the city widened one of our main streets.Cut down 80 trees and turned Regent St. into a drag strip on Fri. & Sat. nights.
Man,wish I still owned my Z1 900 street rocket.

06-10-2009, 05:34 PM
I wish I owned your Z1. It would make my 750 jealous though. :)