The Tennessee Department of Transportation says it won't cover up a confederate monument alongside a major interstate highway, despite members of a local council asking it to do just that because it could be seen by some as offensive.
The metro council in Nashville asked TDOT to plant trees and vegetation to obstruct the view of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue along Interstate Highway 65. The council passed a resolution earlier this month but it can't plant anything at the site without first getting TDOT's approval, the Tennessean reported.
The state has officially denied Nashville's request to block the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue off I-65 pic.twitter.com/YpTvxK2ged— Everything TN (@Everything_TN) July 20, 2015
But motorists won't have to peer between tree limbs to see the confederate statue anytime soon because the Volunteer State's transportation agency is flat out denying the council's request.
“TDOT does not plant foliage on its right-of-way with the sole intention of blocking items on private property based on what might be offensive to some and not to others," TDOT commissioner John Schroer said. "Therefore, the request of metro Nashville’s council to have TDOT plant vegetation on I-65 near the Harding Place exit is respectfully denied.”
The 25-foot fiberglass statue surrounded by confederate battle flags was erected in 1998 on a 3.5 acre private lot owned by Nashville businessman Bill Dorris. State Sen. Douglas Henry (D-Nashville) led efforts at the time to ensure that the statue could be seen by passing motorists.
Dorris is standing by his controversial statue, despite occasional vandalism attempts throughout the years. He told the Tennessean that he understands where his opponents are coming from but, added, "there's not enough money" to plant trees in front of everything that could be considered offensive.
At-large councilman Jerry Maynard, who introduced the measure, said just this week that the statue just doesn't reflect the sentiment among Nashville residents, and therefore shouldn't remain visible.
"We want the vegetation back up so that we do not have to see those things on I-65 that do not show what we are and what we value as Nashvillians," Maynard said.
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