Department of Highways, District 7
Kentucky Highway Crews Begin Mowing Season

Press Release Date:  Thursday, April 27, 2006  
Contact Information:  David B. Thacker
Information Officer
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
District Seven



Kentucky Highway Crews Begin Mowing Season

Motorists Urged to Use Extra Caution in Mowing Zones


LEXINGTON, KY (April 27, 2006)— Mowing crews are sharpening their blades and taking to Kentucky roadways!  The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is in the process of dispatching state road crews and contract mowing crews to cover all 27,438 miles of Kentucky’s state maintained highways.  Most state highways are mowed at least three times to assure that motorists have maximum visibility along the right-of-way.  This year the number of mowing and litter removal cycles on primary roadways is being increased to improve the appearance of our roadsides.

 “We want our highways to be safe for the driving public and for our crews who are mowing along the right-of-way,” said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert.  “Our mowing crews are a crucial part of keeping grass and brush trimmed back to improve visibility.  Their work makes our highways safer.  It also improves the natural beauty of Kentucky’s scenic highways.  The least we can do when we drive through a mowing zone is to slow down and try to help make their work as safe as possible.”

Department of Highways Commissioner Marc Williams says the safety of those working on the mowing crews, whether they are state employees or contract workers, is always a top priority.  “Mowing operations create a situation where motorists should use caution and be aware of the mowing operators.  When crews are out on the right-of-way mowing, they have to infringe on the roadway pavement from time to time.  That’s where we need the help of the driving public.”

All mowing zones are all clearly marked.  Transportation Cabinet inspectors also monitor mowing crews to ensure proper safety procedures are being followed.  Drivers need to be more alert and cautious when driving through a mowing zone. 

“Mowing highway right-of-way is a tough business because of the obstacles.   When you’re on a tractor, you can’t see all the obstacles because of the high grass, so they’re being extra careful in an effort to avoid damaging the equipment,” said Robert Sturgeon, Chief District Engineer for the Department of Highways District Seven. “They’re watching embankments to avoid overturning a tractor as well as trying to watch for oncoming traffic.  It’s just a tough job.”

According to statistics from the Federal Highway Administration there were 1,068 work zone fatalities in the U.S in 2004.  In 2005, there were 8 fatalities, 198 injuries and 528 total traffic crashes in Kentucky work zones.  

The Kentucky Department of Highways District Seven, headquartered in Lexington, is responsible for 2200 miles of roadway in 12 counties, including Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Garrard, Jessamine, Madison, Mercer, Montgomery, Scott, and Woodford.

The mowing projects within these 12 counties involve mowing nearly 7500 acres of rural and urban highway rights-of-way three times per season, not including the Interstate projects.  The 1st round of mowing cycles on the rural projects will begin on May 12 and will end approximately June 1.  The 2nd cycle will take place in the late June/early July period with the 3rd and final cycle occurring around mid-September.

In addition to mowing along the right-of-way, contract crews will also be weed-eating with hand-trimmers along the rights-of-ways, which means that crewmembers will be on-foot alongside traffic. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet asks that motorists be mindful of their surroundings and utilize safe driving habits when traveling through work zones.