Department of Highways, District 5
Kentucky Highway Crews Begin Mowing Season
Louisville, KY (May 2, 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 real challenge because of many obstacles. When you’re on a tractor, you can’t see all of them because of the high grass, so they’re being extra careful in an effort to avoid damaging the equipment,” said Barry Sanders, Chief District Engineer for the Department of Highways District Five. “The workers are watching embankments to avoid overturning a tractor as well as trying to watch for oncoming traffic. A tractor mower operates at 7 mph while vehicles are going by at 65 mph.”
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 Five, headquartered in Louisville, is responsible for 2800 miles of roadway in 8 counties, including Bullitt, Franklin, Henry, Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble.
The mowing projects within these 8 counties involve mowing both rural and urban highway rights-of-way four times per season, not including the Interstate projects. Area interstates, which include I-64, I-65, I-71, I-264 and I-265, will be mowed five times this season. The 1st round of mowing cycles began mid-April in preparation for the Kentucky Derby. The other mowing cycles will occur in late May, early July, mid-August and late 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.