Rural Roadside Rescue: TDOT presents herbicide plan to Metro Council

Johnsongrass is an invasive species that often blocks visibility where Moore County roads intersect with state highways. {Photo Credit: USDA}

LOCAL NEWS | Drive Highway 55 between Jack Daniel’s Distillery and Moore County High School and you’ll notice a constant down both sides of the road … shoulder high Johnsongrass. Growing unchecked, it can block Moore County driver’s vision as they turn onto local and state roads.

If you drive into Lincoln County, the grass isn’t a menace. What’s the difference? Several years ago, the Metro Council voted to opt out of the state’s roadside herbicide spraying program and mowing is more costly and can’t keep up.

According to TDOT, the state highway department and Metro Highway Department receive numerous complaints from locals each year concerning obstructed views when attempting to turn onto Highway 55, Highway 82 from numerous county roads including Good Branch Road, Cobb Hollow Road, Firetower Road, and the Five Points area near Motlow College.

Keeping the grass in control is an important but costly job. In the most recent year, TDOT spent $26,963 mowing 178.77 acres in Moore County. For comparison, the state agency spent $59,352 mowing 855.98 acres in Lincoln County. That’s a difference of $69 per acre in Lincoln County versus $151 per acre in Moore County, according to TDOT.

The State Highway Department will present a plan to spray Johnsongrass on local roadsides during Monday night’s Metro Council meeting. Two individuals from TDOT, Jarrod Bonar and Lance Roland, will appear to explain the states herbicide program and to ease any concerns about the “all kill” chemicals that have been used in the past.

Specifically, they will address UT Extension’s Larry Moorehead’s previous concerns about Round Up, which caused erosion and drifted into other areas, according to Mayor Bonnie Lewis. TDOT now sprays Out Rider, an herbicide that kills Johnson Grass only as well as a drift control chemical called Sharp Shooter.

Moorehead recently rode Moore County roads with TDOT and local farmer Jody Preston — who works as a Operations Tech for TDOT — to visualize the difference in the mow versus spray methods.

According to Mayor Bonnie Lewis, Moorehead did his own research after the ride along and agrees with the use of Out Rider on local roadsides.

The Metro Council meeting takes place on Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Lynchburg Legion Building located just of the Booneville Highway. For a complete agenda, contact Mayor Lewis’s office at 931-759-7076 or read our meeting preview click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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