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TDOT forcing town to rip out plants on Highway 11E

Motorists driving through Jonesborough on Highway 11E during the next week or two will likely notice some landscaping upheaval in the medians there.
According to Town Operations Manager Craig Ford, grasses planted in those medians during a beautification project about two years ago are being removed after town leaders received an ultimatum from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
“The grasses are not coming out by choice. But at the end of the day, it has to be done,” Ford told members of the Tree and Townscape Committee. “TDOT officials out of Knoxville contacted (Town Administrator Bob Browning) relative to vision complaints they had received on 11E. We were given an ultimatum – take them out or they will.”
The Cloud Nine switch grass apparently grew too tall in the medians, leading to visibility complaints from motorists making turns along the highway.
While TDOT agreed with those complaints and ordered the plants removed from the state-owned roadway, local leaders are not as convinced there was a problem.
“Every time I’ve gotten a complaint, I’ve gone up and made the turns myself and the thing is, if you pull up there like you should, you don’t see the vision obstruction,” Ford said. “But (TDOT) has standards and they are sticking to them. I hate it, but we have no choice but to redo it.”
The plantings are being removed from the three medians and will be replanted in other areas of town, including Persimmon Ridge Park and Stage Road Park.
They will be replaced with Northwind switch grass and Shenandoah switch grass in the medians.
While the Cloud Nine grass grew to be anywhere between 7 and 9 feet tall, the replacement grasses will not exceed 4 feet in height, Ford said.
“It looked so nice, especially at that first median. You were on a four lane, but you actually felt like you were on a residential street because you didn’t have to see all that oncoming traffic,” Ford said. “It’s going to take to take probably another year for those to fill out like the Cloud Nine did.”