Cutting Grass and Harvesting on Interstates and Freeways

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) allows for mowing operations and harvesting hay within Limited Access highway Right-of-Ways, under certain conditions. Permit applicants shall also comply with state law, which mandates vegetation mowing and the control of brush within the Right-of-Way of all public roads, except those within the limits of a city or village and designated Federal-aid urban boundaries.

In rural areas, mowing and harvesting is confined to July 16 through August 31; however, not less than 12 inches of grass height must be maintained. Mowing is only permitted between the ditch bottom and the Right-of-Way line.

Where Limited Access Right-of-Way is involved,the following guidelines shall be followed:
  • Mowing is only allowed from the bottom of the ditch to Right-of-Way fence. MDOT shall determine if the ditch is part of a recognized wetland, waterway or county drain, which is prohibited from mowing operations.
  • Woody plants shall be protected from all mowing activities. Use of trimmers (line or blade) will not be permitted around plants. Any damaged vegetation will be replaced by the permittee at their expense.
  • No existing woody vegetation shall be cut or removed from the Right-of-Way.
  • Litter shall be removed prior to any mowing activity and properly disposed of at the permittee’s expense.
  • Mowing limits will be established by MDOT. Limits shall begin and terminate at natural or physical barriers (i.e. ditch, stream, wooded area, overpass, cross road, property lines, etc.) as determined by MDOT’s Region Resource Specialist.
  • No mowing in the median area will be permitted on limited access Right-of-Way.
  • No mowing will be permitted in areas where slopes are one-on-three or greater.
  • Access to and from Limited Access Right-of-Way will only be allowed from an interchange cross road at an entrance point that is at least 300 feet from the ramp terminal or greater so as not to interfere with driver’s visual sight distance needs.
  • Protective apparel must be worn as required by state law, which includes proper safety vests, eye protection, etc.
  • The hay shall be for the harvester’s personal use; not for the purpose of monetary gain.
  • Hay harvesting equipment needs to stay out of areas of phragmites plants.
  • The applicant is responsible for securing the permission of any underlying property owner where easement or statutory Right-of-Way is involved.
  • No other type of farming shall be allowed such as plowing and planting of a crop.
  • Traffic Volumes – sites chosen shall be areas with reasonably low traffic volumes to minimize the possibility of causing congestion or hazards.
  • Roadside Cross-Section - the person requesting the permit shall carefully go over the area requested to make sure that the roadside slopes are not too steep for the operation of hay baling equipment. Also, many areas of Right-of-Way that look fairly flat have not been mowed in years and are deeply rutted from erosion, which may prohibit the operation of typical farm equipment.
  • Soil Type- MDOT shall determine that the roadside soils shall support the weight of the farm equipment without causing rutting, or other damage to the turf.
  • Linear hay harvesting, such as along the Right-of-Way fence, operations are not allowed. Hay harvesting shall only be allowed in rural diamond shaped interchanges and no other areas. Access to and from Limited Access Right-of-Way will only be allowed from an interchange cross road at an entrance point that is at least 300 feet from the ramp terminal or greater so as not to interfere with driver’s visual sight distance needs.
  • Farm Equipment shall not be driven on the limited access highway or shoulder when traveling from one harvest area to another.
  • Hay harvesting shall not be allowed in median areas or any roadside area routinely mowed. In general, hay harvesting along freeways shall normally not be allowed closer than 35 feet to the shoulder of the road.
  • Hay harvesting shall not be allowed in areas where planted or desirable volunteer woody vegetation might be destroyed or damaged.
  • Equipment shall not be parked on the highway right-of-way overnight. However, in the event that it is necessary to leave equipment overnight, it shall be left only in areas approved by MDOT.
  • To give a clean-cut and uniform appearance, all vegetation within and approved area shall be cut even if it is not raked and baled. Jumping around and skipping areas shall not be allowed.
  • Undesirable material may be left on the roadside, but once the hay is raked or baled, it shall be removed from the Right-of-Way.
  • The requirements of the Michigan Farmers Transportation Guidebook need to be followed, as well as applicable MIOSHA safety regulations. Protective apparel must be worn as required by state law, which includes proper safety vests, eye protection, etc.

For more information on the Construction Permit process, click here

All construction permit applications are submitted and purchased through the MDOT Permit Gateway available thru MiLogin online system.