Native grasses, flowering plants to be planted June 28 along I-35, I-90 near Albert Lea
ALBERT LEA, Minn. – Motorists on Interstates 35 and 90 near Albert Lea should be alert Wednesday, June 28 as crews begin working along the roadsides planting native grasses and flowering plants, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The planting work will be on approximately 3 miles adjacent to I-90 westbound from Petran to the Hayward exit (Exit 163), which is east of Albert Lea, 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 at Albert Lea.
The grasses and flowering plants will help prevent erosion and clean storm water. The plantings also provide much needed habitat for many species of small wildlife, pollinators, and rare plants. Additionally, once the plantings become well-established, they can aid in reducing roadway snow drifting.
Earlier this season, MnDOT crews prepared the replanting areas by removing grasses and weeds. Once the areas are planted, MnDOT will monitor for growth and mow to control growth of unwanted grasses and weeds.
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. (www.dot.state.mn.us/newsrels/16/05/26pollinator.html).
To learn more about MnDOT’s roadside vegetation management work, visit the MnDOT project website www.dot.state.mn.us/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.