CRITICS OF THE proposed widening of Hiawatha Avenue may have just found another ally: the people in 30 countries who are members of the International Oak Society. The organization's president, Guy Sternberg, notes in a recent letter to local members that the Hiawatha project "seems to be making news across the country due to the potential impacts to the ancient bur and white oaks growing in the path of the proposed new road corridor... It is my understanding that many oaks 100 or even 200 years old would be removed or damaged by the Route 55 project as currently proposed, and that a natural oak savannah area would be destroyed."
Critics have long complained that the proposed expansion means irreparable damage to a natural area adjacent to Minnehaha Park. But officials with the city of Minneapolis and the state Department of Transportation say the project complied with all environmental requirements years ago and neither can nor should be stopped now.