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Trees Removed

PG&E is removing trees, including this eucalyptus, along Highway 29 near Oakville as part of a gas line safety program.

PG&E is doing another Napa County tree-cutting project, this one not in the far-flung hills but along a prominent stretch of Highway 29 in the Napa Valley.

The utility is cutting down trees north of Yountville near the “Welcome Napa Valley” sign because of a gas transmission pipeline. Northbound traffic at 10:30 a.m. Thursday was slowed for more than two miles.

Work should wrap up Friday, Oct. 12, utility spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said. Project hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., though traffic flowed freely at 12:15 p.m. Thursday as workers took a break.

“PG&E has identified some trees along Highway 29 in Napa County that are too close to the pipeline and pose a safety concern,” she said.

She didn’t say how many trees are coming down, referring the question to the property owner, which in this case appears to be Caltrans. Caltrans couldn’t be reached for a comment. At least two large trees had come down as of Thursday.

PG&E previously removed trees at other Napa County locations as part of its gas pipeline program, including several along Highway 29 north of St. Helena and 10 large eucalyptuses along Solano Avenue between Napa and Yountville. An underground gas transmission pipeline runs the length of Napa Valley near Highway 29.

Trees, tree roots and brush can delay emergency access for first responders to gas pipelines and delay utility crews from performing safety and maintenance work, a PG&E release said.

This latest Highway 29 work is separate from another local PG&E tree-cutting initiative that is taking place in such places as Mount Veeder and Angwin. The utility has been removing trees near power lines for wildfire safety reasons, though critics say the work has gone too far and created what looks like “ski runs” through the forests.

Napa County has also seen hundreds of fire-damaged trees cut down—by Napa County, private property owners and PG&E—in the wake of the Atlas, Nuns and Tubbs wildfires in October 2017. That is happening in areas such as Mount Veeder and away from county thoroughfares.

The tree-cutting work being done along Highway 29 this week will at least slightly alter the landscape in a location that sees about 25,000 vehicles pass daily, as counted by Caltrans.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.