SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There is a growing concern along California freeways. Weeds and tall grasses are springing up and drying out after a long wet winter.
Highway shoulders and medians are filled with flowing overgrown grass.
“[We’ll] try and get a lot of that taken care of before the hot summer really starts bearing down on us,” said Dennis Keaton with the California Department of Transportation.
Caltrans is responsible for trimming back the brush and trees that line more than 1,500 miles of roadway just in the Sacramento region.
“There is a lot of things to do,” said Keaton.
Keaton says they’re a bit behind on taming the tall weeds.
“Mother nature is going to kind of dictate where you’re going to put your resources at,” he explained.
A historically wet winter wreaked havoc on area roads. There were landslides and sink holes in the foothills. In the valley, potholes and cracked pavement are on top of Caltrans to-do list.
“Making sure we repair the roadways and alleviate all the concerns of the pot holes and cracking,” said Keaton.
With resources stretched thin, cutting grass on the roadside isn’t a top priority. The department already has a backlog of $60 million worth of infrastructure maintenance. Keaton says new projects are being put off or on hold, while the maintenance work gets done.
“Right now we want to get out there are start fixing what needs to be repaired,” said Keaton.
But the overgrowth will only continue to dry out.
“There is going to be a lot more fuel to burn,” said Cap. Derek Parker with the Sacramento Fire Department.
Parker says they’ve noticed a change in the valley brush just in the last couple weeks.
They conducted training at Sutter’s Landing in late April. Parker says the brush was green and has since dried out, turning into a golden brown.
“It’s still going to be 100 degrees, it’s still going to have relative humidities that are very low in the summer. We’re going to get north winds. We’re going to have red flag warnings.
Parker says they plan to have controlled burn training in the coming weeks to further prepare for wildfire season.