Sidelining median mowers saves Iowa DOT big bucks

| 7/22/2005

No, Iowa DOT employees aren’t being lazy – the overgrown, unkempt medians of its highways and interstates are supposed to look like that.

In an effort to cut costs from its maintenance budget and support the growth of native wildflowers and prairie grass, the state has stopped mowing its medians, leaving three to four feet of foliage along 1,500 miles of divided roadways and roadsides.

Last year, the move saved taxpayers approximately $600,000 in mowing expenses. Further reduction could trim even more money from an estimated $2 million mowing budget in the state, the Des Moines Register reported.

“From our perspective, it’s more than saving money,” Dena Gray-Fisher, a spokeswoman for the DOT, told the Register. “It deals with aesthetics and breaking up the monotony of the roadway for drivers.”

Some mowing will continue in the state, however. Six to 10 feet-wide areas are trimmed for safety along shoulders, and all medians will be mowed clean in the fall to allow snow to accumulate within them.