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Sign of times: Roadside mowing cut

During last year's mowing season, some drivers were concerned that the decline in local transportation budgets was raising the level of grass and weeds along D.C. area roadways. It did last year, and will again this year. The Virginia Department of Transportation has issued a statement about its statewide mowing policy, saying driver sight lines won't be impaired.

VDOT said in the statement that it has extended the time between mowings in areas where sight distance and motorist safety are not issues. This is basically the same plan it used in 2009, when mowing cycles on most routes maintained by VDOT were reduced to save money.

"While we have stretched our mowing cycles the last few summers to save taxpayer money in this difficult economy, the safety of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians remains our first priority," Robert Prezioso, VDOT's acting state maintenance engineer, said in the statement.

Meanwhile, VDOT is expanding its Adopt-A-Highway program to allow volunteers to assume responsibility for roadside maintenance. Interested citizens, civic groups and businesses can sign up to help maintain the roadside on less-busy routes. (This should be for the sake of community appearance, not for safety. VDOT should directly address the roadside safety issues.)

This is what you should expect to see, according to VDOT's policy:

-- Roadsides along interstates, high-volume primary and secondary routes are scheduled to be mowed no more than three times this year, ending in late October. Litter will be removed at the same frequency. Crews will mow up to 18 feet from the pavement's edge or to the center of the adjacent ditch.

-- Roadsides along less busy routes will be mowed no more than twice this year. Crews will mow up to nine feet from the pavement edge.

-- Roadsides along unpaved routes and low-volume subdivision streets will be mowed once this year unless safety issues require more frequent attention. The usual pattern will be to mow up to nine feet from the pavement edge.

-- Crews will continue to address areas along all roads as needed where vegetation may limit the sight distance of drivers, cyclists or pedestrians. Travelers can report any roadside vegetation causing sight distance problems by filling out VDOT's online maintenance request form or by calling 800-367-7623 (ROAD). TTY users can call 711.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 17, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Safety  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, VDOT traffic information  
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Not in Virginia, but in DC, on 16th heading into town from Silver Spring, there's a traffic light that's dangerously obscured by trees. And yesterday in Maryland, on the way home from FedEx Field, I (barely) saw a speed limit sign completely overgrown -- vines winding around the pole, trees and bushes in front of the sign front. (The driver didn't see it at all, and I only noticed it because I was kind of daydreaming out the window.)

Are there handy links for the District and for Maryland, for their roadside maintenance teams? (I've had good luck Tweeting @ddot in the past for potholes and such, but I'm not keen on making Twitter my primary connection.)

Posted by: EtoilePB | May 17, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: EtoilePB, The District government uses the 311 call center for all that. The online version is at:

All the local transportation agencies are picking up on Twitter now, but so far, I find DDOT to be the most effective. It has the most current information, and appears to be the most responsive to feedback. I think that's why it's up to more than 3,200 followers.

In Maryland, you might be needing the State Highway Administration, or a county or city transportation department for such a complaint, depending on your exact route.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | May 17, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that! I'll try to note where that tree is on the way home today and report it to DDOT.

Posted by: EtoilePB | May 18, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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