Tree canopies are beautiful, and here in the greater Orlando area, in areas like Winter Park, Lake Mary, and Windermere, they add a nice touch to the roadways of our communities.
But as the population in Central Florida continues to rapidly increase, how much longer can we afford these visual luxuries?
Unlike communities up north, many of these canopies have been constructed in the medians of busy roads. These were projects that 15 or 20 years ago, couldn’t project how much traffic would invade it’s neighborhoods. They were purely cosmetic and not practical.
Now as we continue to build (that’s not slowing down), we’re missing that needed road space and traffic congestion is an inevitability almost every day. While we’re keen on widening roads in those areas, we’re limited when it comes to streets with canopies because it means those trees are coming down.
And we’re still designing that way too. Even as the population increases in the tri-county area shows no signs of slowing down roads with wide medians and trees. These decisions will haunt us in the future.
We know that the longtime residents of these communities love their tree canopies. In Winter Park, the issue once played a big role in the city council races. If you mess with those canopies, you’ll hear about it.
And when the traffic density increases in those same areas you’ll hear about it too.
We have come to a point in community planning here in Orlando where that extra lane of road is more valuable than a tree canopy. That lane can make a tremendous difference in helping us get to work, helping our kids get to school and helping our emergency vehicles get to where there needed as quickly as possible.
It will also be one less danger come hurricane season, where we have zero control over how those trees and roads will endure. A major part of clean after the storm is the debris left behind by fallen branches.
We should do what we can to maximize the efficiency of our existing roads with tree canopies and think twice before making more of them in the future.