Nearly 300 oak trees could be gone in Oak Hill

Many residents are hoping to save hundreds of historic trees by putting a stop to TxDOT's Oak Hill project.

A rally was held for that reason.

The historic trees are what Allan Watts says make up the Oak Hill community, but hundreds could be in danger.

"When you design a highway, you're supposed to take into account the context that the highway is placed in. When you ignore all these trees that are going to be cut down, you know, you kind of rip out the heart of Oak Hill. It forever alters our community. There's so much more potential here then what TxDOT is proposing," says Allan Watts, co-founder, Save Oak Hill.  

The proposal is an expansion of US 290 West and SH 71 along Williamson Creek in order to reduce traffic congestion. An independent survey shows there are around 288 trees in the path.
 
"Pretty much as wide as a football field through Oak Hill. It's an elevated toll road, which toll roads have a lot of negative effects on communities and businesses. Then the elevated highway and the noise, pollution from that," says Watts. 
 
A rally was held Saturday afternoon at the northeast corner of William Cannon and Hwy 290. It was led by Save Oak Hill, a grassroots group that formed out of concern for the rapid loss of treasured Oak Hill landmarks.
 
"It scares me because I know a lot of us out here in Oak Hill, we moved out here because of the beauty, and the history, and the trees. I really don't know if i'd want to live out here if they were gone," says Andrea Street, volunteer. 
 
They believe some of the trees are more than 300 years old. TxDOT is currently conducting an environmental study to measure the extent of impacts. 
 
"They proposed to relocate a handful of trees, but at a cost of $100,000 per tree, they're not really wanting to move more than a handful," says Watts.
 
Some of the more famous trees are expected to be saved, like the iconic Grandmother Oak and the Taco Bell tree. For now, many of the residents will continue their fight.
 
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