FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kentucky Highway Crews Begin Mowing Season
Motorists Urged to Use Extra Caution in Mowing Zones
LEXINGTON, KY (May 11, 2005)— Mowing crews are again taking to Kentucky roadways. Each year the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Highways dispatch 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 good visibility along the right-of-way.
Amos Hubbard, Chief District Engineer for the Department of Highways District Seven says the safety of mowing crews, whether they are state employees or contract workers, is always a top priority.
“When crews are out on the right-of-way mowing, they have to infringe on the roadway pavement from time to time,” Hubbard said. “Anytime you have personnel and equipment working along the roadway it can create a dangerous situation. That’s where we need the help of the driving public.”
Using good safety practices, road crews clearly mark mowing zones in advance. Hubbard says motorists can do their part by taking those mowing zone warning signs seriously.
“Anytime you enter a work zone you should slow down and be alert. It is sometimes easy to forget that a mowing zone is just like a work zone for road repairs or construction where extra care should be applied,” Hubbard said.
In 2004, there were 4 fatalities, 175 injuries and 560 total traffic crashes in Kentucky work zones. Hubbard and the District Seven staff have lot of respect for employees who are willing to get on a tractor and take on the challenges that come with mowing along a roadway with traffic buzzing past.
“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. They’re watching embankments to avoid overturning a tractor as well as trying to watch for oncoming traffic. It’s just a tough job,” Hubbard said.
“We want our highways to be safe for the driving public and our crews who are mowing along the right-of-way,” said Hubbard. “Our mowing crews are a crucial part of keeping grass and brush trimmed back to improve visibility. The least we can do as motorists is to slow down and try to help make their work as safe as possible. That applies to all of our people who work out in traffic, but this time of year it especially applies to our mowing crews.”
According to statistics from the Federal Highway Administration there were 1,028 work zone fatalities in the U.S in 2003. In 2004, there were 4 fatalities, 175 injuries and 560 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, beginning this year, contract crews will 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.