Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- For years, people who travel along the Westbank Expressway have complained about high grass, trash and bad or no landscaping in the neutral grounds under the bridge.

Just ask state Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, whose law office is on the expressway.

'It was only being cut eight times a year,' said Connick. 'Trash was constant. Jefferson Parish was sending crews in to clean up and pick up the trash even with the tolls.'

Contractors hired by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development now maintain the median.

Connick and others urged DOTD to let Jefferson Parish do the job.

'That's a proven fact that we were being overcharged and the job wasn't being done,' said Connick.

'The parish would be reimbursed 100 percent of our costs to do so by the state, but on top of that we'll be able to increase the amount of times that we are cutting the grass,' said Jefferson Parish Councilman At-Large Chris Roberts. 'I think the end product will be much better as well.'

Tuesday, Jefferson Parish President John Young met with DOTD officials to discuss the possibility of the parish taking over the grass cutting contract.

'We're in discussions and negotiations and we have an agreement in principal, but certain details have to be worked out,' said Young.

Young said price and frequency are the two sticking points.

'We have to be assured by DOTD that we'll be paid, we'll be paid on a timely basis and we'll be paid for the number of cuts we deem necessary.'

Jefferson Parish leaders say parish contractors can cut the grass, pick up the trash and trim the trees, cheaper, better and more frequently than DOTD contractors.

'I'm very happy that they were able to get this process started and I think the end product is going to be a much better maintained ground portion of the Westbank Expressway,' said Roberts.

'We can provide a better level of service and a better product than the state has been providing, historically,' said Young.

The agreement with DOTD would include twice a month grass cutting and landscaping areas like the ones along Veterans Boulevard in Metairie.

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