MnDOT prepares I-35, I-90 roadside land near Albert Lea for native plantings
ALBERT LEA, Minn. – Motorists on Interstates 35 and 90 near Albert Lea should be alert for Minnesota Department of Transportation crews who are preparing land adjacent to the roadway for native plantings, according to MnDOT.
MnDOT crews are working from May 9-12. They will be spraying areas adjacent to I-90 westbound from Petran to the Hayward exit (Exit 163), approximately 3 miles, and on stretches of 13 miles of I-35 from the Minnesota-Iowa border to the center of the traffic loop ramps at the I-90-I-35 interchange.
The spraying is the first step in preparation for a replanting effort this summer that will include native plantings such as grasses and flowers. The first stage is to spray to remove grasses and weeds in these areas. Spraying now allows MnDOT to monitor its effectiveness and determine the timing of the planting effort.
After the areas are planted, MnDOT will monitor for growth and mow to control growth of unwanted grasses and weeds. The grasses and flowering plants that make roadsides safe, prevent erosion and clean storm water also provide much needed habitat for many species of small wildlife, including pollinators, and rare plants. Additionally, once the plantings become well-established, they can aid in reducing roadway snow drifting.
Previously, MnDOT’s Albert Lea Truck Station maintenance workers planted grasses and flowering plants north of Albert Lea on I-35. Early indications are that over a number of years the reduction of snow blowing over the road could eventually reduce the amount of salt, labor, and equipment hours needed to keep the highway free of snow and ice, safe and open to traffic. The group received a MnDOT award for its efforts in 2016 for innovative work that enhances financial effectiveness.
Minnesota is among six state departments of transportation and the Federal Highway Administration that signed a memorandum of agreement in 2016 to improve pollinator habitat along I-35, a key migratory corridor for Monarch butterflies. (mndot.gov/newsrels/16/05/26pollinator.html)
To learn more about MnDOT’s roadside vegetation management work, visit the MnDOT website mndot.gov/roadsides/vegetation/integrated.html.
Motorists should always be attentive, drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones. For real-time traffic information in Minnesota, call 511, visit www.511mn.org.