Rep. Bacon: Improving Indiana's roadsides

Posted by: Hannah Carlock  | Friday, September 2, 2016 9:00 am

After hearing many concerns from local communities about the lack of mowing along our highways, I looked into the Indiana Department of Transportation’s mowing policies and discovered changes that could be made to improve the system. Indiana is known as the Crossroads of America. But at times we look like the backroads of America, which is why we should focus more on keeping our roadsides better maintained.

INDOT is responsible for maintaining 60,000 acres of medians and roadsides of Indiana highways. Currently, the state dedicates $8 million each year to mowing and treating state highways. According to INDOT, there is a three-step treatment process to maintain the growth of grass along our roadways, including targeted timing of mowing cycles, selective herbicide applications and vegetation management zones. The department noted that vegetation management and correctly timed mowing cycles reduce the need for additional mowing and herbicide application, which saves money while benefiting the environment.

INDOT crews usually begin mowing our region in mid-May, while Northern Indiana isn’t touched until early June. They are aware that this results in tall grass in the summertime, but they only have two mowing cycles scheduled unless they need to address specific safety issues, like if motorists’ lines of sight are disrupted. Mowers are adjusted to cut at a height of no less than six inches to control weeds and prevent scalping, rutting and other damages. Areas with trees and steep slopes are not mowed as a part of INDOT guidelines. The reasoning behind these guidelines, including only having two mowing cycles on the books each year, is to cut down on costs since each mowing cycle for the entire state costs approximately $4 million.

After looking through INDOT’s guidelines and policies for mowing, I believe lawmakers can address some of these matters during the upcoming legislative session. I intend to bring fully vetted legislation to the Statehouse in January in hopes of keeping our roadsides clean-cut and safe for motorists.

As always, please contact me with questions or input at 317-232-9833 or by email at h75@iga.in.gov. I appreciate hearing from you in order to better represent our district. Stay up-to-date with the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/75.

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Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

A high-resolution photo of Bacon can be downloaded by clicking here.