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MoDOT Evaluating Manchester's Highway 141 Mowing Concerns

MoDOT said it can't give the City of Manchester special treatment, but it is looking into a number of solutions for Manchester's mowing issues along Highway 141.

Manchester city leaders are not satisfied with the  maintenance of its grass along Highway 141 through the city of Manchester.

As previously reported by Patch,  This is all that is required of MoDOT.

Manchester Alderman Marilyn Ottenad has been particularly vocal about the fact that she wants more done and the city recently decided to send state leaders and MoDOT a letter expressing their concerns.

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In response to Manchester's concerns, last week, MoDOT officials, State Representative Sue Allen, State Representative Andrew Koenig (who will represent Manchester if re-elected in November, due to redistricting), and State Senator Eric Schmidt toured the areas with Manchester city leaders.

MoDOT officials tell Patch they will review the grass cutting situation and make a decision by June 22 if there is any more the department is willing to do in Manchester.

MoDOT District Maintenance Engineer for St. Louis Becky Allmeroth participated in last week's tour and will be very involved in making that decison.

She said while maintaining grass is important, maintaining the state's roadways is her priority.

"My primary roll is making sure we are making the right decisions and getting the most bang for our buck and that's why we are focused on pavement," Allmeroth tells Patch. "We also have to stay consistent across the region."

She said although it's possible for MoDOT to cut more of the grass along Highway 141, it would require more time and money, similar to the time MoDOT spends to maintain grass at intersections to help ensure driver safety, which is called site-distance mows.

"And that's where we get in trouble, when we do these site-distance mows for one city, like Manchester, then we have to do it for St. Charles and Arnold. Or if we do it for one subdivision, then we have to do it for all of them."

Allmeroth said if MoDOT crews start doing that, it will set back MoDOT's yearly mowing schedule by weeks which could then affect driver safety.

"There are intersection mowers and these crews do give it a more manicured look and they can mow lower. These crews also do the site distance mows to make sure interections are safe," Allmeroth said. "What we're trying to balance is that if we do a full cut to these areas...then we're going to be at about 1,000 acres we cut. Then we will not get to those intersction cuts and than will push our cycle time at the intersection cuts back out 5 or 6 weeks and that's what we're worried about. If we push those intersection cuts back then we are going to have unsafe conditions at those intersections."

However, Aldmerman Ottenad also cited safety has her main reason for wanting the grass cut completely along Highway 141 and nearby neighborhood roads.

"If they let this grow to two or three feet, we have no reaction time if deer come out. We won't even know it until they're on top of us," Ottenad previously told Patch. "People walk and jog on this sidewalk at night. What's to keep snakes from coming out of here? Or any other animal? I mean, you don't know what's in the weeds."

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Allmeroth tells Patch MoDOT is taking Manchester's concerns seriously and is considering a number of solutions.

First, crews will be out performing additional spraying for weeds in the tall grass areas this week.

"We'll make sure those areas that we don't cut aren't looking straggly. It's really those weeds that grow really tall. If you get the weeds out of there, the grass usually stays between 18 to 24 inches," Allmeroth said.

She also admits that when she saw the grass that was recently mowed, it could look better.

"We're definiely going to do some stuff to make it look better on the next round," Allmeroth tells Patch. "What we will cut on (Highway) 141 on the next round, it will be a little wider and it will look better. I didn't care for the way it looked either."

However, the more manicured mows are not limited to Highway 141 in Manchester. They may include other parts of Highway 141, Lindbergh Boulevard and Tesson Ferry Road.

"More people drive those routes and they have higher traffic volumns," Allmeroth said. "So we're going to go back and give some more attention to some of those major aterials."

She said right now MoDOT is scheduled to do a full mow of its grass once a year, then cut most subdivisions at intersections every four weeks, while other cuts along state highways were initally scheduled for three times this summer.

However, due to the mild winter and what MoDOT crews saw during the season's first cut near Memorial Day, more mowing may be added this year. 

"We're still looking at that. We're really looking at when we're going to do the next round. We might actually be doing more than three rounds this year," Allmeroth tells Patch.

She also said there is another solution which involves MoDOT giving up ownership of those parcels of land.

Check back to Town and Country - Manchester Patch later this week for more on that and other issues involving this matter.

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