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Shrubs, not trees, removed from I-5 median

My wife noticed last week that a crew was cutting down a grove of small trees that have lived peacefully for years in the median of Interstate 5 south of Exit 33. We've noticed in the past that those trees had occasionally served as a hiding spot for state troopers looking for speeders. Who ordered the tree slaughter and for what reason?

— L.M., Central Point

Such dramatic language, L.M. "Tree slaughter?" That was the reaction from those at Since You Asked headquarters, as well as from the Oregon Department of Transportation, which is responsible for the vegetation in the freeway and major highways throughout Oregon.

You said "trees," right?

"Actually, they were large shrubs that had grown over time in the median, planted after the interstate was constructed," ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said.

ODOT removed the shrubs in preparation for installing safety cable rail in the median, similar to what a contractor is currently installing between Ashland and Medford.

"The cable acts like an arresting cable to prevent crossover crashes that can result in serious injury or death," Leaming said.

ODOT will go out to bid next month, and the contractor will install cable rails along 39 miles between Medford and Yoncalla, which is just north of Roseburg.

L.M., we hope you're a little relieved that ODOT removed shrubs, not trees. Also, it appears to be for a good cause, installing safety cables that will help minimize catastrophic accidents.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.