October 13, 2011
SCRUB: How trees make way for billboards
By Frances V. Ryan and Sabrine Tribié
This summer, SCRUB was contacted by a distraught Philadelphian who observed the cutting of a large swath of greenery along the south side of the Vine Street Expressway between 23rd street and the Schuylkill River. It is an area that many Philadelphians can see from their high rises near the Art Museum and it is busy with traffic as cars head to the nearby interchange of interstates 76 & 676. Trees and bushes were completely removed, some trees were harshly “topped”. Our concerned citizen made inquiries and confirmed what was painfully obvious… the cutting was done in order to enhance the visibility of a huge billboard soaring above the roadway.
The cutting of trees to clear a view of billboards is becoming a hot button issue. Outdoor advertising companies want to protect their business as well as the businesses being advertised. Nearby residents want to protect the trees, their view and the environment. Legislative and legal battles have erupted in many states and municipalities. As the value of trees becomes more evident, more conflict is guaranteed.