What's wrong with this picture?

June 12, 2011
  • A man mows high grass Thursday at the on-ramp to southbound Interstate 81 from Salem Avenue.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

The problem: Along the ramp onto southbound Interstate 81 from Salem Avenue, grass was allowed to grow tall enough to block drivers’ view of merging traffic, reader Mark Houser wrote in an email.

“It looks like it is over 2 feet tall,” Houser wrote Tuesday.

Who could fix it: Maryland State Highway Administration

What they say: When a Herald-Mail photographer went to take a picture of the grass Thursday morning, the grass was being mowed.

SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said it is the state’s policy to keep areas that are critical to sight distance mowed regularly enough to prevent impediments to drivers’ view of traffic.

Gischlar said recent rainy weather, which makes grass grow faster, might have contributed to the height of the grass Houser observed.

He encouraged anyone who sees tall grass interfering with traffic visibility to alert the SHA by going to and clicking on “contact us.”

However, under a mowing reduction plan implemented over the past couple of years, most grass along state roads that does not interfere with sight distance will be mowed only two times a year, Gischlar said. A 10-foot swath along the side of roads is mowed when it grows to a height of 10 inches, he said.

In addition to saving money, this policy has environmental benefits by avoiding the use of gas-powered mowers, and maintaining a habitat for insects and the birds that eat them, Gischlar said.

 — Compiled by Heather Keels

If you are aware of a safety problem, a major annoyance or a pet peeve that one of our governmental bodies, an agency or an organization is responsible for fixing, send the information, and a photo if you have it, to:
What’s Wrong With This Picture
c/o The Herald-Mail newsroom
100 Summit Ave.
Hagerstown, MD 21740
You can email the information to

Editor’s note: Each Monday, The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation.
We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes, or consumer problems.

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