|Drivers in the Southwest District should be on the lookout for MoDOT crews mowing along the shoulders of area highways. The crews have been out since May 11 for the first of three mowing seasons (spring, summer, fall).
|Lamar Senior Maintenance Worker Marshall Miller uses a brush hog to mow along the MoDOT right of way on Barton County Route HH east of Lamar. (Photo/David Mitchell)
The purpose of the mowing is to improve safety for drivers, rather than the visual appeal of the road.
“Currently, the focus is on routes with the most significant sight distance issues,” said District Maintenance Engineer Michael Middleton.
Middleton said those tend to be the district’s minor routes with curves and hills that sometimes restrict how far a driver can see.
“We’ve got 88 tractors covering 14,700 shoulder miles,” he said. “We can do that in about four weeks.”
An additional goal, said Middleton, is to mow I-44 from the Oklahoma state line to mile marker 113 and Route 65 from Springfield to the Arkansas state line before Memorial Day and the increased holiday traffic.
Crews are making a single pass, cutting a path between six and 15 feet wide. That’s been the policy for several years. Every other year during the fall, mowers will make two passes.
“Each time we mow,” Middleton said, “you can just cut a check for $750,000.”
That’s a little more than $50 per mile.
Middleton urged drivers to be aware of slow-moving mowing crews along highways this time of year.
“At two-and-a-half- to three miles an hour, you will approach them pretty fast,” he said. “We’ve got flashing lights, signs and follow vehicles trying to let you know we’re out there. We just ask drivers to be careful.”