Work to pick up remaining tree limbs on the state highway rights-of-way left by hurricanes and winter storms will be completed by July, but state officials ask residents to discontinue placing limbs and debris from their lawns and property along the highway right-of-way.
The Concordia Parish Police Jury is making a similar request concerning parish highway right-of-way.
Ken Free, District Engineer for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s Chase District, said the department is responsible for the removal or pickup of trees, branches or limbs that fall on state highway right-of-way, but not for limbs and debris that fall on private property.
He said a majority of the limbs and debris stacked along the highways along the lakes outside Ferriday in Concordia Parish is not storm-related debris.
DOTD workers recently saw a professional landscaping service cut a tree on private property and then pile the limbs on the highway right-of-way, Free said.
“We will eventually get what remains on the highways, but it is not a priority,” Free said.
DOTD announced two weeks ago thatdebris removal in Concordia Parish - and surrounding parishes – as a result of hurricanes and winter storms was complete.
Free said that what now remains stacked along the highways is debris that came from private property and some of it not storm-related.
But he said that will eventually be picked up, possibly by July.
Free said DOTD has spent $380,000 cleaning up debris in the six-parish region. He said crews removing debris from Concordia on Tuesday because weather conditions prohibited road work.
“Each crew has spent over a month just picking up debris,” he said, noting that DOTD’s main focus is on roads and bridges.
Concordia Parish Police Jury President Joe Parker said the Jury is facing a similar problem.
“We are buying a truck to pick up limbs,” Parker said, “but we are in the same situation as DOTD. When limbs fall on our right of way we will get them.”
He reminded residents that they can bring debris from their property to the parish maintenance barn on Highway 84.
“We’re trying to work out something with the sheriff’s office to use inmate labor to get some of the debris,” Parker said, “but are asking the public to help us out.”
He said that once the new truck arrives, work will begin “in the worst areas of the parish.”
Parker said the jury’s expenses for this extra work may be reimbursed by FEMA.
“But FEMA does not get in a hurry,” he said.
DOTD previously reported that hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020, along with two historic winter storms in February 2021, left behind thousands of cubic yards of debris along state routes and other roadways. DOTD crews and contractors have been working to clear this debris since those weather events struck the state.
More than 3.3 million cubic yards of debris have been removed from state highways across Louisiana over the past several months.
DOTD again requests that residents no longer place personal waste and other debris on the roadway shoulder or near the highway for DOTD workers to address. Instead, these items should be disposed of using alternate means to ensure the cleanliness of the roadway and safety of the traveling public.