TDOT to take over maintenance of state routes in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Beginning July 1, if you hit a pothole on Poplar, it's not the city's responsibility anymore.

Some of the largest and most-traveled roads in Memphis are about to see changes in the way they are maintained as the city turns over maintenance duties on state routes to Tennessee Department of Transportation. Those state routes include Poplar, Union, Summer, Lamar, Stage, Germantown Parkway and Bill Morris Parkway and more.

State routes are shown in red below. A complete map is here.

The city says the change will allow Memphis to focus more resources on maintaining about 6,000 miles of neighborhood streets. They project litter collections on these neighborhood streets will be 17 percent faster and pothole filling 15 percent faster.

While maintenance of state routes has always been the state's responsibility, Memphis has for years maintained these roads  by filling potholes, removing debris, clearing snow and cutting grass along frontages under contract with the state. TDOT reimburses the city $1.5 million a year for the work, though the city spends $2.5 million annually under the contract.

That contract expires June 30, and the city says it will not be renewed.

TDOT will continue repaving the state routes, as it has always done, and will also be responsible for grass cutting, drain maintenance, debris removal and snow clearance. The agency says a standard cycle of grass mowing is about six times a year.

Kevin Gallagher, who drives on the listed roads every day, thinks the move is a good idea.

"It absolutely makes sense," Gallagher said. "We're talking about really interstate commerce happening on these big roads or at least between communities, between cities. ... We're talking about roads that are essentially state highways."

The city says its Public Works division and TDOT have been working together on the transition.

Memphis was the only major city in Tennessee that maintains state routes inside city limits, though TDOT has contracts with some smaller cities.

A TDOT spokewoman said the agency has not announced what method will be available for Memphis residents to report roadway problems.

In addition to interstates (I-40, I-240, I-55), here are routes that will now be maintained by TDOT:

  • Bill Morris Parkway (TN 385)
  • Covington Pike (TN 204)
  • Danny Thomas Boulevard/Thomas Street (TN 3)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard east of Second (TN 278)
  • East Parkway/part of Airways Boulevard (TN 277)
  • E.H. Crump Boulevard (TN 1/4)
  • Elvis Presley Boulevard/Bellevue Boulevard south of Union (TN 3)
  • Germantown Parkway (TN 177)
  • Getwell Road/New Getwell Road south of I-240 (TN 176)
  • Jackson Avenue (TN 14)
  • Lamar Avenue (TN 4)
  • North Parkway/A.W. Willis Avenue east of Second (TN 1)
  • Poplar Avenue east of East Parkway (TN 57)
  • Second Street south of Chelsea Avenue (TN 14)
  • Shelby Drive east of Third Street (TN 175)
  • Stage Road (TN 15)
  • State Route 300 — I-40/Thomas Street connector
  • Summer Avenue (TN 1)
  • Third Street/B.B. King Boulevard (TN 14)
  • Union Avenue east of Second (TN 3)
  • Walnut Grove Road west of I-240 (TN 23)
  • Weaver Road south of Shelby Drive (TN 175)