King County crews start roadside weed control soon

March 27, 2012

By Staff

King County road crews plan to roll out a roadside weed control program in unincorporated areas April 9.

Through the annual program, certified technicians conduct controlled herbicide spraying along road shoulders during the spring and summer. The program is meant to reduce safety hazards for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

The spraying also controls noxious weeds — a potential threat to animals and native vegetation.

If residents do not want county crews to spray the county right of way near their property, they should post “owner will maintain” signs. The owners must also agree to maintain the right of way themselves. Maintenance agreements must be completed and returned to the county Road Services Division before the signs can be issued.

The agreements should be received by April 4. The county provides signs at no cost to property owners.

What to know

Unincorporated King County residents can opt out of roadside weed spraying. Call 206-296-8100 or 1-800-KC ROADS toll free for maintenance agreements and signs. The agreement is also available on the county Road Services Division website,

Crews use small amounts of herbicides approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the state Department of Agriculture. The process also includes follow-up monitoring and soil testing.

No spraying is conducted near water, including rivers, streams, wetlands, bridge abutments, guardrails near water, ditches, levees, back slopes or in moratorium zones.

Spraying in moratorium zones — such as the Snoqualmie Valley, and Vashon and Maury islands — is conducted in limited situations mandated by state or local law, or by King County Weed Board.

Officials said the herbicide application is designed to keep road shoulders safe for bicyclists and pedestrians. The action also prevents weed root systems from damaging roadways and reducing sod buildup. Such problems can cause road flooding and icy conditions in winter.

The annual weed control also reduces fire risk by minimizing the amount of uncontrolled vegetation on roadsides. Overgrowth from weeds can also accidents due to reduced visibility.

In addition, Road Services Division crews also plan to remove all tansy ragwort from rights of way due to the flowering weed’s danger to animals. State and local laws require the removal of tansy ragwort and other noxious weeds.

Residents responsible for maintaining rights of way should place vegetation containing tansy ragwort in sealable bags to prevent the spread of the weed.

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