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State to maintain many prominent Memphis streets
State to maintain many prominent Memphis streets
Posted on 06/14/2018

A significant change will soon take place concerning who maintains some of the most-traveled roads and streets in Memphis.

Beginning July 1, the Tennessee Department of Transportation will take over maintenance of streets within the city limits that are also state routes — those in red in the map below. (For a larger version of this map, click here.)

State routes

This will enable the City to increase its focus on neighborhood streets — including increased litter collection cycles, more street sweeping, and faster pothole filling.

“We are continuing to re-orient our resources to the tasks that only the City can perform — such as maintaining the 6,000-plus lane-miles of streets in Memphis that are not also state routes,” Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said. “While TDOT has the resources and agency to perform maintenance on its routes, no other entity can maintain City streets but us.”

While these routes have always been a responsibility of the state, the City of Memphis currently maintains them in a contract with TDOT. That means the City has performed tasks on behalf of the state like filling potholes, removing debris, and treating for winter weather.

The City also has a separate contract with TDOT to cut the grass on medians and near on/off-ramps on the interstate highways within the city limits.

The City’s work of maintaining state routes and cutting grass on interstate highways costs roughly $2.5 million annually. As part of the contracts, TDOT reimburses the City about $1.5 million each year. Also, the state does not reimburse the City for pothole damage claims paid by the City for damage that occurs on state routes.

The City has decided not to renew these contracts, which end June 30.

Allowing TDOT to return to maintaining its routes will ensure the City can prioritize its resources on neighborhood streets. Based on current service request data, this projects to a 17 percent increase in litter clean-ups and a 15 percent increase in pothole response capability.

TDOT’s maintenance of state routes here will place Memphis in line with all other large cities in Tennessee. In fact, Memphis is the only large city in Tennessee that currently maintains state routes within its City limits.

TDOT has always conducted major maintenance on these routes — such as complete street repaving. That will not change.

Administrators from the City’s Division of Public Works and TDOT have been collaborating to prepare for this transition and will continue to communicate specifics during the transition.

So, what will this mean to you? A few things:

  • Potholes on state-maintained routes will now be filled by TDOT. This also means that the City of Memphis will not be servicing claims for pothole damage on state-maintained routes beginning July 1.
  • Snow and ice treatment on state-maintained routes will be the primary responsibility of TDOT. The City and TDOT will collaborate on this in the interest of public safety, however, and will communicate strategies in advance of winter weather forecasts.
  • Grass and weeds in medians and rights-of-way on state routes will be cut by TDOT.
  • Debris and litter removal on state-maintained routes will be conducted by TDOT.
  • Drain maintenance on state-maintained routes will be conducted by TDOT.


To report an issue to TDOT, call 901-684-5467.

Reverse frontageThe contract change will also mean the City will no longer cut grass on so-called “reverse frontages” — such as the area between a fence and a curb (see photo for example). These areas have always been the responsibility of the property owner, but the City has cut the grass in past years as a courtesy as part of its maintenance of state routes.

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)

(Updated on July 2 with TDOT issue reporting information.)

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