Daylighting is a practice that is a part of a vegetation management plan for road maintenance. Good management of vegetation at roadways can reduce erosion and can save on future maintenance costs. Daylighting is the process of cutting back trees so the road is exposed to more light. By utilizing a daylighting practice on rural roadways a municipality may increase sunlight to the roadway, increase visibility for drivers, dry out soggy road surfaces and reduce annual trimming needs.
The Dirt Gravel and Low Volume Road Program’s primary focus is to reduce sediment pollution caused by rural road ways to local water bodies. To achieve that, a road needs to have adequate drainage where water has an opportunity to exit the roadway and to filter out before it reaches the water body as runoff. Daylighting can improve drainage function. By cutting back vegetation, the chances of leaves and debris clogging cross pipes and ditch lines can be reduced.
Soggy roadways can more easily erode if they never dry out and compact. By cutting vegetation back, sunlight can more easily reach the road bed, helping to dry out areas that tend to retain water. This practice reduces erosive soil that can pollute local waterways through runoff.
Daylighting is also a practice that can increase safety on a rural roadway. Cutting vegetation back can increase line of site for drivers. This practice also reduces the opportunity for vegetation to block road signs and to cause damage utility lines and guard rails.
The Venango Conservation District recently awarded funding to Irwin Township to perform daylighting practices on their Kerr Road and Byers Road. These roads are both dirt and gravel surface roads. The road surfaces tended to stay moist throughout the year, promoting erosion of the road surface.