Innovations by government to improve efficiency deserve recognition.
Credit the Missouri departments of Transportation (MoDOT) and Natural Resources (DNR) with finding new applications to reduce roadside maintenance.
Trimming roadside vegetation is not unlike mowing a lawn.
Larger machinery is used to cut broad swaths. Trimming, however - whether around trees in yards or signs along highways - is time intensive.
Mats made of recycled tires now are being used to control weeds and vegetation that grow around highway sign posts.
The mats are an adaptation of mats already in use by MoDOT to control vegetation around guard rails and guard cables.
The newly designed mats are being installed by MoDOT workers along U.S. 54 between Jefferson City and Kingdom City as part of a larger project. Another component of the project is replacement of metal reflective posts, which are old and battered, with flexible posts.
"Placing the mats now at a time that grass and weeds are not growing will allow us to get ahead of the vegetation growth that comes with spring weather," said Rand Swanigan, MoDOT's central district roadside manager.
By suppressing vegetation, the mats will save costs for herbicide as well as the labor costs for application or mowing.
In addition, decreasing the need for slow-moving mowing machines on highways or workers along roadsides will improve safety.
The mats are funded by a grant from DNR. As a further enhancement, the mats provide a reuse for discarded tires, which - ironically - are among the debris found along roadsides.
The mats are a welcome addition to efficient operations.