Northern Virginia motorists should get ready for the smell of newly mown grass and less-obstructed views of roadways.
Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) work crews have begun the second pass of their thrice-yearly operations to mow medians and roadsides of the region’s streets and highways.
In Northern Virginia, VDOT maintains roads and state rights-of-way in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. Arlington County controls many of its roads, but VDOT maintains the county’s interstates and primary roads, said Jennifer McCord, spokesman for the agency’s Northern Virginia division.
VDOT has 18 area headquarters in these counties, with hundreds of employees devoted to maintenance work that includes mowing, she said.
VDOT maintains 457 centerline miles of primary roads in Northern Virginia, including 181 miles in Fairfax County and 31 miles in Arlington. The agency also oversees 4,907 centerline miles of secondary roads in Northern Virginia, including 2,621 miles in Fairfax County alone.
(Centerline miles refers to the length of roadways; lane-mile totals are much higher, as there usually are multiple lanes per road. VDOT is in charge of 13,413 lane miles in Northern Virginia, McCord said.)
Fairfax County supervisors have been unhappy with VDOT officials’ decision in recent years to cut back median and roadside mowing from six times per year to three, for budgetary reasons.
“High grass in our medians makes our county look shabby and unkempt, lowers property values [and] is a serious safety issue for motorists,” said Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) said at the board’s July 26 meeting.
Supervisors at that meeting unanimously agreed to have Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) send a letter asking VDOT officials to use a recent influx of maintenance moneys to resume mowing six times per year and improve conditions along roadside trails.
VDOT pays for mowing operations through its maintenance fund. Officials give priority to emergency or safety-related situations involving vegetative overgrowth, drainage and broken concrete or pavement, McCord said.
“We will always continue to make visibility or safety issues a priority, and schedule additional mowing and cutting of vegetation when needed,” she said.
VDOT crews monitor roadways for such conditions, agency officials ask motorists and residents to report problems online via my.vdot.virginia.gov or by calling (800) 367-7623.
Mowing is VDOT’s responsibility, but residents who wish to cut grass in certain areas, such as neighborhood entrances, are allowed to do so if they first obtain a permit. Residents interesting in the permitting process should visit http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/volunteer_mowing.asp.