The Price of Progress

Recently, our local community newspaper had a few things to say regarding a planned road upgrade. It's the main road (and alternative to the nearby highway which is currently undergoing construction) that runs past my complex-of-complexes. And yes, it's busy. Very busy. Many people use it as either the shortcut or the speed-along-enjoying-the-bumps between Sir Lowry's Pass and the Cape. Today the traffic cops were out earning their bonus along a section of it, armed with a radar device - good on them.

But also today I saw something that made me sick at heart.

The planned road upgrade is apparently gaining momentum - at a cost.

Many years ago, this was an area of pine and oak trees. There was a lot less wind and a lot more nature - until the housing developers got hold of it. They've packed in what my grandfather likes to call "rich man's squatter camps". Housing development after housing development, security complex after security complex - all with your neighours within handshake-through-the-bathroom-window distance away. Yes, I live in one of them and although I miss having a garden, it's not too terrible a home. It's safe, secure, and a lot more interior space than I had before.

But with all these developments going on, trees are going - and the wind gets worse and worse here each year. It comes howling down the pass with nothing to break it, sweeps dust and grass and plastic bags, channels itself down between the complexes until it nearly knocks you off its feet.

And now there's the road. All along the road there have been magnificent old oak, pine and gum trees. There's one I can see from my bedroom, towering in front of the view. If you're building a new double-lane road, it's pretty easy to put one double on one side of the line of trees, and one on the other. There's more than enough room! And a solid tree is pretty much a decent deterrant to trying to cross into oncoming traffic, as well as a shield for the eyes of drivers facing each other at night. There's been enough room left on one side of the tree line for roads between building and tree.

But today the tree-fellers moved in. They're systematically taking out all these old and beautiful trees, leaving mere bare wind-tunnels and speeding machinery.

Two trees down from my intersection was a beehive in the top hollow of an oak. The few pines left housed squirrels who risked life and limb to cross the road occasionally. For those of us who have to walk the 1km to town now and then, these trees provided much-needed shade along the route.

But there's a price to progress. I'll let these shots speak for themselves.

Work Your Wealth