JEFFERSON CITY — Automobile tires that highway crews pick up off of Missouri highways are now playing a bigger role in making highway roadsides more efficient and environmentally friendly.
The Missouri Department of Transportation and Natural Resources join together to use mats made from recycled tires to control weeds that grow around highway sign posts. MoDOT said the mats are designed to delay vegetation growth, thus reducing the amount of herbicides needed to control weeds.
Roadside Manager Rand Swanigan of MoDOT's Central District Fewer said weeds at the base of sign posts will enable MoDOT crews to reduce the amount of more labor-intensive mowing and trimming they have to perform, all while keeping the used tires from going to landfills.
MoDOT crews will install the vegetation-control pads along U.S. Route 54 between Jefferson City and Kingdom City.
The crews will also replace the current metal reflective posts that mark the highway every tenth of a mile. The metal posts, most of which are old and battered, will be replaced with flexible posts that pop back up if hit.
Swanigan said he is confident the mats will achieve the goals of reducing herbicide use and mowing time, but says the department will have a better idea of how well the mats work next spring.
Photos of the mats can be found on MoDOT's website.