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McKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) – Efforts to ease traffic in growing Collin County are coming at the expense of some beloved trees. And that’s sparking outrage from some McKinney homeowners along Virginia Parkway where an expansion project is at the center of a growing controversy.

Donna Wilson couldn’t believe it when she saw a backhoe destroying trees in the median just beyond her backyard.

“And I see the big tractor going across right as he hit this tree here and just demolished it,” Wilson said.

The City of McKinney insists the work is necessary to expand Virginia Parkway from four lanes to six and ease congestion.

“I get the fact that they need that space to put in extra lanes. However the way they’re doing it isn’t fair,” homeowner Helen Loniewski said.

A city spokesperson said McKinney will eventually replant new trees, but preserving the existing ones would have doubled the $100,000 cost of the project. That’s why some homeowners offered to save the trees at their own expense.

“I have a piece of property right here. I mean I would save at least two or three trees,” Loniewski said.

“There was just no reason not to offer that to the citizens in my opinion. We could have at least paid for them and put some money back into the project,” Wilson said.

The city spokesperson said allowing individuals to enter the work zone to remove trees themselves could damage utilities in the median and delay the project schedule. Now that most of the trees set to be removed along Virginia Parkway are already gone, homeowners like Wilson hope to have a say in future projects that involve removing trees.

“I’d like to just look for a different solution other than just coming in and ripping them out of the ground and carrying them off,” Wilson said.

Although it doesn’t save the trees that were in the median, the city said by the end of the construction in 2019, the new trees planted will outnumber the ones removed.

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