Three separate teams make up the Roadside Vegetation Management
Program at Maintenance & Operations (M&O). These teams
include: a manual brush crew, a mowing
crew, and herbicide spray crew. Although each team has their
own detailed programs, they often cross over to help each other
and the other section crews of M&O.
The manual brush crew consists of five to six people: a basket truck operator,
a chip truck operator, one or two brush pullers, and two flaggers.
The work is generally of a preplanned maintenance program, but
it always gives way to the need to address all "hazardous
trees" in and next to the right-of-ways for public safety.
Because of the very hard work performed by this crew, they rotate
assignments during the day to give rest to the harder positions,
cutting down on the injuries and helping cross train the entire
crew. In addition to the removal of "hazardous trees",
we clear the overhanging trees and limbs for the Chip Seal program
in order to keep trash out of the fresh oil as the rock is applied.
We help the bridge crew clear any brush and trees that may be
a problem for an upcoming project. We do the same for culvert
projects in the Drainage program, and construction projects for
the Engineering Department as requested. The care for clear vision
at intersections and other sight problems is the main maintenance
This crew is broken down during the summer months to assist the
Chip Seal program and any brushwork required during this time is
done by the vegetation crew leader, with the assistance of the
herbicide crew and summer help. Big jobs are scheduled for times
when the chip seal program is shut down and the crew returns to the
vegetation crew. This work is hard to measure in miles maintained
due to the gaps between roadside vegetation. However, a whole day
can be spent removing one large hazardous tree and only cover a few
The roadside mowing crews work on two different programs
(mechanical brush cutting and roadside shoulder mowing), each
covering about 1900 lane miles of maintained shoulders.
There are four full time mower operators including an additional
full-time mower for winter work in Point Roberts and a part-time
mower for summer work in the busy urban areas.
Fall, winter, and early spring are the season for brush cutting.
The equipment is outfitted with 21 booms on their mowers that
carry a "Rotary Blade" head to chop and cut the heavy
brush along the right-of-way. We brush cut the ditches and back
slopes and limb and trim trees as needed. This program, often
confused by the public as mowing in the winter, is not mowing.
This program includes snowdrift and flood control in the north
farm country. The average distance for brush cutting is about
one road mile per day.
late spring and summer are devoted to Shoulder mowing. Most of
the units are equipped with short reach rotary blade mower decks
of about 50" width. They try to mow all 1900 lane miles
approximately five times during the summer. That is a lot of
shoulder miles. They average about 30 lane miles a day. Each
operator has his own assigned area, which he mows in a circular
fashion, returning to the beginning when he reaches the end of
each mowing cycle. This eliminates the need to transport the
equipment from one area to the next. However, because he is always
moving in a forward direction, he has to have his fuel and transportation
pickup truck spotted ahead of him almost daily due to the many
miles he covers each day. The herbicide crew does this in the
early morning when they have time due to early morning weather
conditions. The summer urban mower is the only unit that needs
hauling from one urban area to the next.
The herbicide crew has many programs that they maintain besides
helping the mower crew. The entire herbicide crew includes two
highly trained people and one spray truck.
There are several programs involved in vegetation management. The
most important program is the maintenance of the minimum 12-inch
bare strip next to the pavement for erosion control of the road
surface by preventing encroachment of grasses and weeds. The
second, three-way program covers the next zone, a 4-foot wide strip
of low-growing brush and noxious weeds, treating the brush and
weeds without removing the grass, which serve as a filter for road
surface water runoff. The third program, dormant brush winter
program keeps small trees and blackberries back from the road
edge. Other programs include a signpost treatment, guardrail
treatment, noxious weeds outside the second zone, and other special
programs for construction projects.
Due to the seven-day advance-posting requirement on the herbicide
program, hundreds of road miles are racked up traveling back and
forth at least four times to each treated road. One trip to post
the road, one to spray the road, one to re-date the posting that
the road has been sprayed & when it was sprayed, and one trip
to remove the posting sign 30 days later. Because of this posting
program, many miles of road have to be posted in advance.
With the exception of the service worker 1 that rotates for
training, our crew has been in place for almost ten years and
we are very proud of both.