The roadside right-of-way serves many purposes– it provides space to escape crashes, creates a sense of openness that contributes to driving ease, improves sight distances, provides space for maintenance activities, such as snow removal and storage, and provides an area that allows for proper road drainage. However, overhanging trees, brush and weeds can grow into a serious safety concern for road users, especially in and around power and telephone lines, highway medians and along the roadside.
The Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) has developed a Roadside Brush Control Program to help keep these areas reasonably clear. This four-prong approach is designed to contain roadside brush that could obstruct motorists’ vision, create drainage problems or cause snow/ice problems if left unchecked, and includes the following actions:
WCRC uses a subcontractor to perform roadside mowing. Per their contract, they will mow along paved county roads twice and unpaved county roads once throughout the season. They do not mow along subdivision roads. The contractor is responsible for the scheduling of mowing to mow through the county most efficiently. They generally work on a township-by-township basis. Click here to read more about WCRC’s roadside mowing program.
Mechanical brush mowing
WCRC crews use a specially designed brush mower to cut back roadside brush. This equipment will focus on clearing brush that is 2” in diameter or less. This mowing will be done year-round, whenever the weather allows. Over the past decade, WCRC has not had the resources to continuously brush mow. Fortunately, with increases to road funding from the state, WCRC is finally able to restart its mechanical brush mowing program.
Specifically trained, licensed and experienced professionals selectively apply the herbicides to specific vegetation that could create a driving hazard. This spot spraying along local unplatted and primary roads is done on a rotating basis in one quarter of the county late each summer. The operation is not a continuous broadcast spray – only those roadside areas where existing brush and limbs create safety hazards are sprayed. Herbicide spraying does not take place in subdivisions. In addition, herbicides are applied annually along guardrails located on county roads.
Hand trimming is usually part of a larger road improvement project and is required to help ensure the safety of the roadway, including vertical clearance for emergency vehicles, school buses and WCRC snow plows.