A number of large white pine trees standing between the 15th fairway of the Chattahoochee Golf Course and Tommy Aaron Drive are causing problems for city Public Works officials whose job it is to keep the roads free from cracks.
Public Works Director David Dockery told Gainesville City Council members Friday that the roots from the trees are tearing up the asphalt on the road.
Some 640 feet of the road is in need of repairs, but city officials aren't sure how to approach it, feeling the need to keep the trees alive and the roads repaired.
In the past, Public Works officials have patched each crack as it popped up. But as the pine trees' roots continue to grow underneath the roadway, causing the asphalt to buckle, Dockery said simple patches are no longer a feasible solution.
"What we're looking at is a longer-term solution of dealing with that section of Tommy Aaron," Dockery said.
The trees provide some protection to motorists who drive alongside the golf course, screening them from errant balls that might break their windshields.
"Another challenge is those roots from those trees grow under the road and they are causing damage there," Dockery said.
Dockery said the city's golf course advisory committee is against cutting the trees or narrowing the fairway by planting a new row of trees that stand farther from the road.
Mayor Danny Dunagan expressed support for a solution Dockery called the simplest and the least expensive, at least in the short term. He said an official at the golf course told him the last time the city milled the pavement, it did not harm the trees.
The option includes milling the existing asphalt and resurfacing the road, which will initially cost the city $102,000, plus another $15,000 every five years for maintenance.
If the city seeks this option, Dockery said the golf course likely will plant more trees behind the existing white pines.
"If these trees do die because of the work that we've done there, then hopefully it will be several years and those trees will have time to grow up and form a screen between the fairway and Tommy Aaron Drive," Dockery said.
That option, he said, still may negatively impact the trees and may not address the issue in the long term.
It was one of four options he presented to council members for consideration Friday, including options to narrowing Tommy Aaron Drive and cutting the trees altogether.
Each of the options ranged from $110,000 to $260,000. Cutting the trees and replanting cryptomeria would be the cheapest option and rebuilding Tommy Aaron Drive would be the most expensive, Dockery said.
The option that seemed most friendly to the trees - resurfacing the road using a method called "root bridging," which involves removing the asphalt over the roots to allow them to get oxygen - was unappealing to the city's wallet.
The initial cost to repair that stretch of the road using the "root bridging technique" could cost about $245,000 up-front, Dockery said, but would likely eliminate problems for both the trees and the road and require minimal maintenance.
The city still needs to identify funding for the project, and no decision has been made.