Escalon City Council members learned of an expansive pipeline safety project in the city being done by Pacific gas & Electric, a project that will mean the removal of dozens of trees.
But utility officials are quick to point out that they will work with the city and property owners to replace the trees that have to be removed because they pose a potential hazard.
“We are in the early phases of starting the gas safety initiative in the city,” said PG&E spokesman Shaun Maccoun.
Council members viewed a power point presentation that outlined the reasons the tree removal is needed, what areas will be impacted, a potential timeline and the safety benefits for the community.
“We are 100 percent committed to keeping families safe,” Maccoun added.
The pipeline studies, he said, have determined that some trees and other vegetation that can compromise safety have been found in several locations and the goal is to address those issues as efficiently as possible.
The areas in question also have to remain accessible, so if there ever were a pipeline incident, PG&E crews as well as local first responders could get to the area and deal with the situation without being hampered by tree roots or overhanging branches.
“We know how important trees are to communities so we are looking at every single tree that is near a pipeline, really looking at what that risk is and we are only going to remove trees that pose a threat,” said Maccoun.
He said the studies have identified about 200 trees throughout the community that fall into that category, with the bulk of them in areas including portions of Main Street, McHenry Avenue, Roosevelt Avenue and Judith Way.
“We will reach out to customers, create customized plans to replace any trees,” Maccoun said of putting others in place of those that will be removed.
The removal of the trees and planting of new ones will not cost the city or the customer, PG&E officials said.
The firm has also spent the last few years making enhancements to the pipeline system that carries gas across the state and said the removal of problematic trees is part of that continued safety initiative.
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and their families,” said Maccoun.