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Example of a tree in the traveled way at 232nd Avenue NE.
232nd Avenue NE near Duvall.

Example of a tree in the traveled way at 356th Drive SE.
356th Drive SE near Fall City.

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Broch Bender, Roads Communications Manager
Desk 206-263-1189

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In spring and summer 2020, King County is scheduled to conduct guardrail installation work to improve driver safety on ten roads. As part of the work, trees and stumps within 10-feet of the traveled way will be removed to improve safety on the following roads:

This is the first phase of a multiple-year program which will remove trees within the 10-foot roadway clear zone. This type of work requires crews to focus on a few trees at a time with the work moving quickly through your neighborhood.

2020 guardrail installation

The following map displays the roadways included in the 2020 Countywide Guardrail project. The work involves installation of new guardrail and the revision of existing guardrail to meet current standards. - Map PDF 378KB

Frequently-asked questions

Roadways are safer when there are no immovable obstructions in the shoulder area or “clear zone,” up to ten feet of the road. Removing trees along the roadway edge could save lives by reducing the chance that a vehicle will crash into one of them if the vehicle veers off the road.
A Clear Zone is the area adjacent to a road where a driver can safely stop or regain control of a vehicle that has left the roadway, without hitting an immovable object (such as a utility pole or a tree). Some roads use paved shoulders as a clear zone, while others use the unpaved public right-of-way, up to ten feet from the edge of the road, as a clear zone. King County and WSDOT standards require all public roads to have adequate clear zones.
King County will only remove trees that are:
  • Located on a roadway scheduled to receive guardrail.
  • Within the public right-of-way (not on private property), within ten feet of the edge of the travel lane.
  • Have a trunk larger than four inches diameter.
King County traffic safety engineers and landscape architects evaluate and determine if a tree must be removed from the side of the road. First, the traffic safety engineer and landscape architect identify trees that appear to be in the clear zone along the road. Next, each identified tree is then appraised to see if it meets the County’s requirements for removal. Requirements for removal include location, diameter, species, health and most importantly distance from the edge of the lane. If a tree meets the requirements it is tagged for removal.
Once a tree is removed, the trunk and branches are used in local wetlands and streams to slow or direct the flow of water and provide a natural habitat for animals. In some cases, the trunks are donated to local tribes and other environmental stewardship groups for reuse.
Road Services is working with the County’s Water and Land Resources Division to replace and replant trees as part of that division’s existing tree replacement program.
Dead or dying trees located along the road edge could fall onto the roadway during windy or stormy weather. These trees are generally identified and removed by the county landscape architect before they create a potential hazard for motorists.