Bug-Infested Trees on Busway to Be Felled

From Times Staff Reports

About 120 eucalyptus trees along the proposed San Fernando Valley busway must be cut down because of infestation by a damaging Australian insect, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Friday.

The stately, 50-year-old trees on Chandler Boulevard between Tujunga Avenue and Laurel Canyon Boulevard pose a hazard because large limbs could fall, said Jose Ubaldo, a spokesman for the MTA.

The $265-million high-speed busway between North Hollywood and Woodland Hills was approved Thursday by the MTA, handing a major victory to proponents who have worked for more than 20 years to bring large-scale mass transit to the valley.

Experts said at least 119 trees along Chandler have been attacked by the redgum lerp psyllid, a pinhead-sized predator that draws sap from the wood, leading to defoliation, and, eventually, death. They say efforts to control the pest have proved ineffective, leaving removal as the only option.

The MTA said the tree removal will begin Aug. 6. Ubaldo said he did not know whether new trees would be planted to replace those that are cut down.

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