In the past, the Transportation Department mowed all South Carolina interstates in five cycles from April to November. Now, a tight state budget means, the grass on the interstates will only be mowed three times this year. David Cook is with DOT.
“As our revenue decreases, as people drive less, cause that’s primarily where we get our revenue is from the gas tax, we’re looking for ways to save money. And reducing the mowing cycles on the interstate, which is cutting the roadside interstate grass can save about $1.3 million for two cycles, if you cut out two cycles,” says Cook.
Cook says cutting these lawn mowing cycles is better than cutting elsewhere.
“When money is tight you have to really make hard decisions about what you’re going to try to reduce and we look at things that are safety related and we certainly don’t want to reduce anything that’s safety related and this is the area we decided we could afford a trade-off,” says Cook.
The state slogan is “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places,” and Cook says they do not plan on diminishing that, but they have to do what is best.
“The aesthetics and the appearance, ya know, that’s where a lot of times people’s perceptions come from. So, it’s important to us to try and make things look nice and really for people to perceive that we are doing the good job that we are doing, but really when money is short you have to make some trade-offs,” says Cook.
Cook says in the contract, the DOT is required to mow three cycles this year, but next year, if the budget is better, they hope to get the number of cycles back up to five. This year, the mowing cycles will only run through October 31.