MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Friday the Memphis City Council chair put the Tennessee Department of Transportation on blast on social media, saying the state should do a better job cutting the grass along Memphis roads and interstates.
TDOT said they are midway through yearly cut three of five in Memphis, but Council Chair Kemp Conrad said it’s not enough. So he asked Memphians to call the state.
“We are at our wits end. This is state of Tennessee property. This is blight. If the state of Tennessee was a property owner, we would cite them for blight,” said Conrad.
Conrad talked to WMC Action News 5′s Kendall Downing Friday from an overgrown area of grass along Poplar Avenue in East Memphis. It’s a busy part of town and the heart of the city’s business community that Conrad said is a now an eyesore.
“This grass here is over six feet tall. This is Poplar and I-240,” Conrad said.
Conrad started tweeting pictures of overgrown grass along interstates and other state highways in the city Friday morning, encouraging Memphians to reach out and complain to TDOT.
We too found long grass along parts of the interstate but also areas Friday where it was in the process of being cut.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to TDOT and provided Conrad’s tweets.
A spokesperson for TDOT wrote in an email that the mowing contractor is 70% done with cycle three of five, with weed eating following mowing. The fourth cutting cycle will start mid-October.
Conrad said TDOT doesn’t trim often enough.
“TDOT treats the whole state the same in terms of cuts,” he said. “Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the growing season in Memphis is a lot different than east Tennessee and they shouldn’t treat it all the same.”
Last summer the City of Memphis ended a deal with the state and quit cutting grass and picking up trash on state highways in city limits, largely because the city was spending $1 million annually more than they were being reimbursed by the state. Months later, residents had complaints about the new TDOT maintenance.
Conrad said city leaders have had high level meetings with TDOT about the cutting situation in Memphis but there haven’t been real results.
“I take no pleasure in doing this. We have been working for months and months behind the scenes,” Conrad said. “This is unacceptable and nobody that drives around the city should look at this and think this is normal.”
TDOT said the last cutting cycle of the year is reserved for late fall and early winter depending on how warm it stays.
Conrad said city leaders have a good working relationship with state officials, but this is one place it needs improvement.
“TN has over $1 billion surplus, but they don’t cut the grass,” Conrad wrote on Twitter. “Memphians please observe interstate intersections today. If you don’t like what you see - let TDOT (615) 741-2848 know. Don’t accept this. Let TDOT know we deserve better. Snap a pic of what you see.”