In hopes of reducing herbicide usage

WAILUA — Motorists traversing Kuhio Highway near the Leho Drive intersection might have noticed a hint of green yesterday.

Crews from the State Department of Transportation, Highways Division, took a progressive step toward weed control while being conscious of the environment yesterday when workers installed a load of TraFix Weed Mats manufactured by Traffix Devices.

“Hopefully it will cut down on herbicide use since there is a growing concern about the use of herbicides,” said Randy Silva, a supervisor with the DOT Highways Division.

That was verified by the manufacturer’s Web site which claims the new product, measuring 48 inches wide by 37.5 inches long, eliminates the need to spray for weed control.

The concept behind weed mats dates back to plantation era days when residents in plantation camps would roll out lengths of roofing paper to prevent weeds from growing along areas they traverse in their yards.

But drawing from the growing concern for the environment, Traffix Devices claims that Weed Mat is made from 100 percent recycled tires.

A 48-inch by 43-inch weed mat removes 10 to 12 tires from the landfill, the Web site states. A mile of weed mats saves approximately 18,000 to 20,000 tires from going into landfills.

Weighing in at 40 pounds for each mat, the weed preventive not only controls weeds, but helps reduce soil erosion and containment of heavy metal contaminated roadside soil, the Web site states.

Silva said the installation yesterday was the first time the product was being used in the state, and if successful, there are plans to use it along the fences at the airport on O‘ahu.

With 110 miles of highway under his jurisdiction, Silva is pleased with the maintenance aspect.

“Right now, when our crews are done with one section, another area needs attention, so hopefully, this will eliminate that so the workers can do other things that need to be done,” Silva said. “If it works, it’ll also keep the guardrails from getting covered up by weeds.”

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