ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A towering, centuries-old tree at the University of Michigan is set to be moved to make way for a construction project.
The Ann Arbor university is preparing to relocate the 250- to 300-year-old, 65-foot-tall bur oak in October as part of a $135 million expansion of its business school. Crews from a company that specializes in transplanting trees spent months preparing for the move.
"This provides a very real, active learning opportunity for our students, and that, ultimately, is why we're doing what we're doing," said Allan Cotrone, chief administrative officer at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
The oak dates to at least 1764, which is 73 years before the university moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor and 60 years before the founding of the city that's named in honor of the founders' wives and the natural arbor created by the massive oaks.
History was a factor in the decision to move the 55-inch-diameter tree, Cotrone said. And it helped that money was there to make it happen. The $400,000 cost is included in the price tag for the donor-funded expansion of the Ross School.
The only question for Cotrone and other school officials was how to do it.
That's where Texas-based Environmental Design Inc. came in.
The company has moved trees for decades all over the world. Vice president Paul Cox said the Ann Arbor oak is not the biggest that EDI has moved but it is "on the large end of the scale."
Crews installed pipes that will serve as a "lifting platform" to help get 750,000 to 850,000 pounds of tree and earth onto a trailer, which will transport it about 600 feet away.
As for its chances of enduring the move, Cox said, "We are somewhere north of 80 percent survival."