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Highways teams spring into action

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Following the extreme weather last winter and the promise of summer at last, highways teams across Hampshire are busy trimming spring growth on verges during the annual grass cutting season.

Good visibility is vital for motorists and other road users and so it is important to trim back verges to maintain clear lines of sight. Verge cutting is also timed to manage designated Road Verges of Ecological Importance which have identified rare flower species. These verges are cut either early in the season during April, to reduce invasive plants such as thistles or vigorous grasses that may have taken hold over the winter, or in late September so that rare species have had time to flower and set seed for the next year.

Verge cutting is undertaken in both rural and urban areas. In general rural grass verges are defined as areas with speed limits of 40mph and above and are cut by the county council's highways term contractor Amey who use local sub contractors. Urban grass verges tend to be on roads with a speed limit of 30mph or lower and are cut by the 11 district councils in Hampshire on behalf of the County Council.

Rural grass cutting is carried out twice a year, with the first cut normally taking place in May and June. The second cuts starts in early September and should be completed by the middle of October. Work on most of the rural road verges consists of a one metre wide cut but at junctions, bends and in front of traffic signs the grass is cut back further to ensure good visibility for motorists. In addition, the remaining areas of verge are cut once every three years in rotation, in order to prevent them from becoming overgrown.

Cllr Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council said:

"Hampshire has almost 6,000 miles of road and over 2,000 miles of them are covered by the rural grass cutting programme and the same if not more in urban areas. Good visibility for all road users is critical and so it is important to make sure that our verges are trimmed. We balance this with the need to ensure that plant and wildlife habitats of special interest are protected and, with sensible timing, managed verge cutting can support wildflowers and rare species."

"This is a very busy time for our grass cutting contractors so please be patient if you get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle. We always try to keep any inconvenience to road users to a minimum but the work to keep our roads and verges in good condition is in everyone's interest."

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