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Every property owner knows this simple fact: mowing turf costs time and money. With thousands of acres of roadside to mow every year, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is concerned with time and money, as well as the volume of vehicle emissions released into the atmosphere from mowing equipment.
MDOT SHA has embarked on a program to mow less, thus returning select grassy roadsides to meadows and forests. Through this process, MDOT SHA has steadily decreased the number of acres being mowed and the number of mowing cycles in a season. In fiscal year 2010, for example, the revised mowing program allowed us to mow 33,000 fewer acres, freeing up $3.5 million for other necessary maintenance. At the same time, mowing reduction creates areas that benefit wildlife. It also improves water quality by capturing and containing runoff after storms.
MDOT SHA has intensified cost savings and enhanced environmental stewardship with our Turfgrass Management Guidelines. The guidelines call for a maximum of three “one-pass” mowing cycles that are confined to 10 feet from the edge of highways. Mowing does not occur until grass has reached a height of 18 inches. Median mowing is addressed in similar manner.
Restricted visibility areas — such as interchanges, intersections, and acceleration or deceleration lanes — are mowed more frequently and the grass is maintained at a lower height for the safety of motorists. In late fall, a “full width” mowing is performed along roadsides and in medians to assure that noxious vegetation is managed, and trees do not establish in areas where they could pose a danger to motorists.
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