Honkin' Mad

Grass is chest high on some of these roads. Who’s supposed to cut it?

An unusually rainy September and October has left many roadsides with tall grass that can become a traffic hazard.

City and state officials say they are cutting the growth as quickly as they can.

A reader asked Honkin’ Mad, an online feature where Star-Telegram readers can submit traffic questions, why more of an effort isn’t being made to cut the grass.

“I (am) concerned about the tall grass in every median in town. All across town! That was going on even before we had so much rain. What’s up?” the reader, who asked that her named not be used, asked.

A spot check of some areas found chest-high weeds sticking out into the street along Granbury Road in southwest Fort Worth, and two-foot-tall bermuda grass on Basswood Boulevard in far north Fort Worth.

During the past couple of weeks, crews hired by the Texas Department of Transportation have been busy cutting tall grass on roads such as Interstate 35W, and Texas 121 — but those plans have been hampered by rain delays.

At the state agency, contractors are tasked with mowing all highway right-of-way three times a year — generally once each in the spring, summer and fall. Variables such as weather can affect those plans, however.

Residents who know of a particular stretch of highway that needs attention can call the agency’s main Fort Worth number at 817-370-6500 and let the call taker know of any problem spots.

“TxDOT crews will perform spot mowing to improve sight distances as needed,” spokesman Val Lopez said.

While the state transportation department handles grass maintenance on highways, each city is responsible for medians on city streets — and, for enforcing ordinances governing grass and weeds on private property.

In Fort Worth, an ordinance states that grass and weeds may not be taller than 12 inches, according to a city website.

“If a Code Compliance officer documents that the grass and weeds on a property are more than 12 inches high, the owners receives a one-time certified notice and then has 10 days to correct the violation,” the city’s website said. “If it’s not taken care of by the deadline, a city contractor will do the job. The average bill for a residential lot is $250.”

So far in 2018, the city has 6,548 mowing violations, and 1,742 private properties were mowed by contractors hired by the city. Another 4,580 properties were mowed by the owner before city contractors arrived, city officials said.

As for city-owned medians, the Parks and Recreation Department aims to mow, edge and trim the grass about every 14 days, although there have been delays this year caused by wet weather and other issues.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796; @gdickson
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