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CHICO — By the end of July, changes associated with the downtown First and Second streets couplet project will get started, focusing first on trees.

Fifteen trees will be cut down as part of the project, the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission learned Monday.

Trees will be removed because they are in the way of the project, said city project manager Bob Greenlaw. Trees will also be removed to make room for bus stops and bulbing of sidewalks at street corners.

Trees that aren”t doing well or are safety hazards will also be cut, he said. The project is out to bid now, and bids will be opened in early July, Greenlaw said. The city hopes construction will start at the end of July and go until October or when the rains interfere. It will restart in 2012.

Greenlaw said the city has adopted a ratio of planting one tree for every tree removed, but Park Commissioner Mark Herrera urged the city to plant more. Urban Forest Manager Denice Britton thought more could be planted, too.

Brian Firth of Land Image, the landscape contractor chosen by the city, will be working on the trees and landscaping. Firth told the Park Commission that he, Britton and a Chico State University representative examined the trees and worked on the replanting plan. Trees will also be planted in the medians.

A mature live oak, possibly with a 25-foot canopy, could be chosen for the roundabout”s middle, “like the tree was there before the roundabout,” Firth said. The Art Commission is involved in aesthetics for the roundabout.

“It looks like a beautiful project,” said Park Commissioner Mary Brentwood. The couplet project is meant to improve bicycle and pedestrian travel downtown, and involves changing two-way traffic to a single direction on East First Street and a portion of East Second Street.

A roundabout is planned at the foot of the Camellia Way Bridge where First, Second and Flume streets meet. Bulbing of street corners, new bike lanes and diagonal parking are also planned.

The project continues westward to the railroad tracks.

Information on the couplet project is available on the city”s website: www.chico.ca.us, under Capital Projects.

Staff writer Laura Urseny can be reached at 896-7756 or lurseny@chicoer.com.

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