Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Michigan cuts back on mowing, too

The Michigan Department of Transportation is, like Wisconsin, cutting back on its mowing schedule.

From the Detroit News:

When it comes to Michigan's freeways, cost-cutting is in and grass-cutting is out.
To save as many greenbacks as possible, the Michigan
Department of Transportation is making fewer trips to state roadways to mow the slopes, trim trees and pare bushes.
Grosse Pointe resident Suzi Padilla, who does most of her east-side driving on Interstate 94, understands the reason; she just doesn't like the results.

"It bothers me because it makes our city look bad," Padilla said. "For people coming in from Metro Airport, it's their first greeting to the city. It looks terrible. There's probably a lot of garbage caught in the high grass, so that when they do cut it, all this garbage is going to show up."

For MDOT, doing next to nothing has become the economical thing to do. The agency hopes to save up to $30 million this year in labor and fuel costs by mowing and trimming less often.
"The economy is in terrible shape, plus we've had two really tough winters in a row," said MDOT spokesman Bill Shreck. "I think we ended up going $30 million over budget for last winter's maintenance, which means our summer budget is much tighter. We will still concentrate on safety issues -- such as trimming and mowing to maintain good sight distances -- rather than mowing for cosmetic reasons."

According to Shreck, MDOT's maintenance budget is $300 million, which includes salting and plowing, repairing potholes, fixing guardrails, maintaining drains and mowing the freeways.
To save money, MDOT -- which owns or is responsible for nearly 9,600 miles of Michigan's 119,500 miles of roads as well as 4,400 bridges -- will cut once or twice a summer versus three or more in normal years.

Michigan's DOT argues that cutting back on mowing will provide more naturalized, environmentally friendly rights of way, but that is a load of highway litter. Maintaining naturalized green areas is amazingly labor intensive -- what the cutbacks in cutting will produce is a lot of invasive species running rampant through communities.


capper said...

Besides invasive plant species, long grass is also a haven for insect problems like ticks and fleas, that jump on our pets and then infest our homes.

Anonymous said...

No matter what choices you make, there are uncomfortable consequences. If you mow and use pesticides and herbicides, you pollute the air and water. If you let nature take its course, you have weeds and insects. Not all weeds are bad, not all insects are bad. What is a weed? An invasive species? Humans are invasive species.
In the province of Quebec, they let the roadsides go natural years ago and it is completely stunning.