The National Roadside Vegetation Management Association (NRVMA) has presented roadside management specialist Rand Swanigan and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) with a national Roadside Excellence Award for developing a successful plant growth regulator (PGR) vegetation management program for Missouri roadsides-–including historic Route 66. The award is one of four given annually to the city or county that demonstrates best practices and innovative management of roadside vegetation.
“I’ve worked with MoDOT for 13 years to manage vegetation on Missouri roadsides,“ said Swanigan. “I’m proud that our PGR program has allowed us to reduce mowings and transfer labor to other priorities, which is the driving force behind the nearly $3 million in cost savings MoDOT has enjoyed since introducing the program in 2003.“
MoDOT was nominated for the award by Randy Lusher, a sales specialist with BASF Professional Vegetation Management. Lusher worked with Swanigan to develop and implement a PGR program for controlling tall fescue, a perennial grass that can be beneficial for roadsides but quickly grows to disrupt natural habitat and obstruct sightlines for drivers.
“The cornerstone of MoDOT’s PGR program is using a herbicide that suppresses seedhead formation, which allows fescue to thrive while keeping the plants at a safe, manageable height,“ said Lusher. “MoDOT’s PGR program with Plateau herbicide reduced total mowings and made the mowings they did do easier because the grass was at a more manageable height.“
The MoDOT PGR program allowed the department to decrease mowings from three or four times per year to only one or two cycles per year.
“From a safety standpoint, the PGR program is also a much better alternative to frequent mowing,“ said Swanigan. “It’s safer for our workers if they don’t have to be out there in traffic mowing.“
Swanigan and his team plan to continue leading Missouri’s 10 districts in using the PGR vegetation management program, helping to keep Route 66 “the highway that’s the best“ and helping others achieve the same standard.