Why are the trees along the old south Medford exit (Exit 27) of Interstate 5 dying from lack of water while new trees are being planted? Could the old trees be replanted at a park?

Why are the trees along the old south Medford exit (Exit 27) of Interstate 5 dying from lack of water while new trees are being planted? Could the old trees be replanted at a park?

— Claudia S.

The 15-year-old ornamental pear trees near the southbound off-ramp are on a piece of land that will be put up for sale and likely will be purchased by developers.

That's one reason why the Oregon Department of Transportation, the agency that spearheaded the South Medford Interchange Project at Exit 27, hasn't paid the trees much attention. The trees likely would be removed during future development.

Although ODOT didn't ask Medford officials whether they would want to transplant the trees in a park, that option would be more expensive than buying new trees and planting them, said Gary Leaming, ODOT spokesperson.

Ornamental pear trees cost about $30 each, while the labor and equipment that would be needed to dig out the tree's root ball would cost significantly more than that, Leaming said.

Even with the right equipment, the survival rate of trees that are transplanted is slim, said Bill Harrington, city of Medford arborist. About 80 to 90 percent of the tree's root system would be severed in a replanting, Harrington said.

"It sits idled just trying to recover a long time," he said.

"You hate to see a resource going to waste ," he added. "I never had the opportunity to look at those trees, but whether it would have been a positive or not, I'm not sure."

ODOT did ask the local garden club if it wanted the rose bushes along the south Medford exit, but the gardeners determined that the plants were too spindly and unlikely to prosper if transplanted, Leaming said.

Leaming noted that ODOT has planted some new trees along the roads in the interchange as well as along Bear Creek.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.