What roadsides are for
Roadsides and roadside vegetation are a critical part of the highway infrastructure. They improve safety by providing clear sight lines, unobstructed clear zones and proper storm water drainage. They protect roads and bridges by allowing storm water to drain away quickly, while at the same time, holding the soil in place. Roadside vegetation is also important for weed control, aesthetics, water quality, habitat and quality of life.
Roadside vegetation is managed to provide drivers with a clear view of approaching vehicles and other hazards, such as deer. They include clear zones that allow vehicles to safely come to rest if they run off of the road. Roadsides allow storm water to quickly drain off of the road while at the same time preventing erosion. Roadside vegetation can also be used to control blowing and drifting snow and signal drivers to slow down in urban areas.
Proper drainage is important for protecting the road surface and base, but storm-water runoff can lead to erosion and environmental contamination. Roadside vegetation prevents erosion and filters out contaminants while still allowing for effective drainage.
Invasive species can cause significant harm to human health, agriculture and the environment. Because roadsides are a major means by which invasive species are spread, it is important that they are controlled on roadsides. In fact, proactive control of invasive species on roadsides can prevent widespread invasions and the harm that they could cause. Learn how MnDOT keeps roadsides safe and sustainable with weed and brush control.
Attractive roadsides strengthen a sense of place and give travelers and tourists a more rewarding experience. These are important factors for the tourism industry and for the quality of life of Minnesotans.
The grasses and forbs 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. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Roadsides for Wildlife Program addresses habitat on all roadsides across Minnesota.
Quality of life
Natural looking roadsides can reduce drivers’ stress. Boulevard trees and the rest of the urban forest improve air quality which may reduce cardiovascular and upper respiratory disease. Urban landscape plantings and boulevard trees improve public spaces and have been associated with improved retail districts, higher real estate values and reduced crime.