Manchester city leaders are not satisfied with the maintenance of its grass along Highway 141 through the city of Manchester.
However, this is all that is required of MoDOT.
Although MoDOT and state leaders recently toured the area with Manchester City leaders, Becky Allmeroth, MoDOT district maintenance engineer for St. Louis tells Patch there may not be much more MoDOT will do for the city.
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"We would love nothing more to make our roadways look like golf courses because that's where we take our pride, but we have to get our focus back in the pavement," Allmeroth tells Patch. "We need to make sure we keep our good pavement in good condition."
Allmeroth said that means using MoDOT resources, manpower and equipment to maintain roads is the department's priority and it trumps maintaining some of its grass.
"And that's where we're tying to turn our focus is trying to have those crews on the pavement more," Allmeroth said. "We used to mow those roadways five to six times a year. Last year we cut back to four and this year we're cutting back to three."
She blames the mowing cutbacks on state budge cuts to MoDOT.
Allmeroth said although the department's operating budget was not cut, last year $1.2 billion was used on Missouri roadways as part of the Transportation Improvement Program, in the next two years that is being reduced to $600 milion.
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However, Allmeroth said MoDOT is searching for solutions to address Manchester's grass concerns.
She said MoDOT crews will be out spraying the weeds in the taller patches of grass this week and will do a better job of mowing during the next round which is currently scheduled for July.
However, a longer term solution Allmeroth said MoDOT is considering is giving or selling these parcels of land along Highway 141 to the or residents. The the new owners would then be responsible for maintaining the grass.
The land is referred to as "excess right of way," Allmeroth said.
"It's kind of what's left over. Sometimes it happens when we purchase land for a roadway and it's what's left over when we realign a roadway. Where the old roadway used to be," Allmeroth explained. "That's really property that MoDOT doesn't need to run state highways. Sometimes we'll give it over to a city or a county for them to maintain because then they become more of a residential street."
She said MoDOT has approximately 1,000 acres of such land, much of which is near neighborhoods and behind sound walls like in Manchester. The areas in Manchester that city leaders are concerned about and MoDOT is reviewing fall into that catagory, including Howard George Drive and the areas around Bromfield Terrace and Rockhurst Drive in the Chadwick Estates subdivision.
Although Manchester city leaders Allmeroth said this option would give the city, or residents who live near the land, ownership of the land parcels.
One option is to offer the pieces of land to nearby residents.
"We are looking to see if we'll ever have a use for them anymore, or we might put it up for the neighbors to see if anybody is interested in purchasing it," Allmeroth tells Patch. "That happens quite a bit. We give it pretty cheap to the land owners who are next to it."
Another option is to offer the land to the city at no cost.
"We literally give it to them. Especially if it's one of those roadways like Howard George, where now they just connect city streets and it's not what a state highway is supposed to be," Allmeroth said.
She said MoDOT is serious about this possible solution and the proposals have already been turned over to MoDOT's right-of-way department.
"We turned that over in the last week to see if we can get the ball rolling and see if they (the city or property owners) are interested in it."
One solution Manchester Alderman Marilyn Ottenod previously proposed, is MoDOT saving tens of thousands of dollars by not spending it on an annual seminar, as reported by FOX2 News, but instead using that money for better mowing its grass.
"If you spent between between 74 and 76 thousand doallars on a seminiar in Springfield, why can't you cut the grass the next to residents?" Ottenad told Patch she asked a MoDOT official.
Allmeroth defends that seminar that she tells Patch cost the department $76,000 this year. She said that is MoDOT's statewide manintenace meeting that is necessary for the functiion of MoDOT locally and across the state.
"It's to get everyobdy in the room and to be talking with our counterparts in the state so we can share best practices and make sure we have consistancy across the state," Allmeroth tells Patch. "It is to give us statewide direction on how we're going to handle things like mowing, snow removal and environmental issues."
She said although the seminar costs the department tens of thousands of dollars, it saves money in the long run.
"It can save us thousands of dollars," Allmeroth said. "I can't tell you how much money we've saved just through some of these ideas."
Now Manchester waits to see the next step for grass along Highway 141. If there is a next step, they're set to find out by June 22.
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