Roundabout grass scheduled for maximum of four cuts

Roundabout grass scheduled for maximum of four cuts

CUMBERLAND – As grass in the area of the newly completed Diamond Hill roundabouts was approaching 3 feet deep last summer, a representative from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation said that mowing was still the responsibility of the contractor on the project, but RIDOT’s maintenance crews would soon be taking over the work.

With grass again growing out of control this spring, The Breeze has learned that the maintenance plan for the area, like other state-maintained areas, calls for maximum of four cuts and minimum of two cuts for the entire season.

RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said Monday that he expected grass-cutting to happen within two weeks, and the grass was then cut as of Tuesday morning.

Town residents had been increasingly vocal about the messy look of the roundabouts over the past weeks, logging frequent complaints about why the grass still wasn’t being cut.

Many of the bushes planted last year within the main roundabouts appeared to be dead or dying this week.

St. Martin said for a story last August that the long grass wouldn’t stay that way after the roundabout project was complete. He said in addition to the grass-cutting that contractor Cardi Corp. was responsible for until the project wrapped up last September, the company was responsible to replace dead plantings that hadn’t survived last summer and would be required to maintain trees and bushes after project completion until they became established.

Mayor Jeff Mutter said on Monday that it’s clear the current plan for cutting grass at the roundabouts isn’t enough, saying the situation had become both an embarrassment and a safety situation due to sightlines being obstructed. Told of the plan calling for grass to be cut two to four times per season, he said he planned to reach out and confirm that schedule and if true, he would ask about the town taking over some maintenance along the state road.

St. Martin sent a link to RIDOT’s schedule for grass-cutting, which includes the following note: “Mowing operations begin in mid to late April and areas shown on these maps are mowed continuously in the rotation sequence as shown in the legend until the mowing season ends in late October/early November. The dates and time of actual mowing at each location are largely determined by weather conditions such as rain or drought.”

Said St. Martin, “Each district starts in April and works in the order shown on the map, repeating the cuttings throughout the season as weather, rainfall, drought, etc. impacts growing conditions. This works out to about two to four cuttings per season and this would be the first time that part of Diamond Hill Road is cut this spring.”

The map on the state site shows Cumberland in the “Smithfield district mowing plan” running from Johnston and a portion of Providence to the north and east.

The color-coded lines show Diamond Hill in yellow and third out of five colors for getting mowed in each rotation. State roadways Mendon Road and Angell Road are both in red, or scheduled to be cut first on the rotational schedule.

St. Martin said Tuesday that various grassy areas around the roundabouts are available for adoption under RIDOT’s program that was revamped this spring. RIDOT has changed up its highway adoption and sponsorship programs to make them easier for businesses and organizations to identify areas of roads to clean, he said.

All information on the programs, links to maps to help people quickly find areas near them to adopt, and online application forms are located at www.ridot.net/CleanRhodes .

Here is a summary of the state’s revised adopt-a-spot program: “Create your own little paradise on a corner, a strip on a right of way, or a traffic triangle.

Then plant your plants and put your company or organization’s name right on it.”

• How does this work? Either find a spot or ask the adopt-a-spot coordinator to help.

• How do I start? Start by filling out the application on the website and sending it in with the spot chosen. Look over the limitations of how far from a road edge the plantings must be and how high they can be for visibility. Adopters are asked to keep up a spot for two years.

• Do I have to pay? No. But adopters will have to sign a release form for each member of their team so that RIDOT does not have responsibility for any injuries incurred during plantings. They also have to supply all the plants for their spots.

Comments

It may be the state's responsibility. But the town can and should do it if the state won't. Heck, this is our front door to the world.

Also, Governor McKee drives by this embarrassment every day. What does he think?

There needs to be a more comprehensive approach to the maintenance of the roundabouts and the 295 overpasses on both Mendon and Diamond Hill Roads. The is also true of the side walks in other areas of town. For a long time now, they have been unsightly with overgrowth and weeds growing between the cracks in the cement. It's an embarrassment and really changes the character and welcoming appeal of Cumberland as you drive through town and compare it to other towns and communities. Additionally, it wouldn't hurt to replace and/or update the white "Welcome to Cumberland" signs as you enter from border communities. As I remember, at one time then Mayor McKee initiated a beautification project to address similar issues. If the state is not going to maintain these areas to a high standard than there needs to be creative approaches to returning and maintaining the beauty and charm of our town.