I was out for a run recently when I noticed this scene on Wells Street:

If you look at the pavement, there is a narrow line of fresh asphalt that runs along the street about four feet off the curb. That is a trench Berkshire Gas dug the week prior for new gas lines.

About a month ago, a controversy erupted around similar work on Norwood Street. There, the initial plan had been to dig the trench through the tree strip, and all the trees there were marked for removal. After an outcry from residents, the trees were saved from removal and Berkshire ended up digging the trench through the street.

Berkshire Gas (and presumably town officials who sign off on such work) prefer going through the tree strip, as it is easier and cheaper to dig there than in the street. Why, then, did they choose to dig the Well Street trench through the pavement?

My guess is that it has something to do with the line of utility poles, which, like trees in the tree strip, would need to be removed in order to dig a trench there. I get why no one wants to do that—all the lines and cable would need to be moved, there would be service interruptions for electricity, phone, cable, etc., and it would be a huge pain.

So this question is more rhetorical than practical, but why do we as a town make the assumption that utility poles are critical infrastructure that cannot be moved or taken down, but we will remove trees out of convenience so long as no one objects?