The control of the erosive potential of water along roadsides is critically important to the maintenance of roadway integrity and highway safety. Undercutting of the road surface by uncontrolled water flow can reduce roadbed integrity and necessitate costly repairs. The unchecked flow of water across roadways can deposit sediments on the roadway, resulting in hazardous driving conditions. Meyer et al. (1975) determined that erosion from roadsides can be predicted from the RUSLE and that vegetative stabilization can reduce sediment production dramatically. Roadbanks typically are composed of exposed subsoil, which is often higher in clay content than topsoil, resulting in greater resistance to soil particle detachment. In studies with various types of forest road sideslopes in Alabama, Grace (2002) determined that a tall fescue-bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flüggé)-sericea lespedeza [Lespedeza cuneata (Dum. Cours.) G. Don]-white clover (Trifolium repens L.) mixture was more effective at reducing sediment production than a native species mixture of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman)-little bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash var. scoparium]-switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.).
In addition to the benefits of tall fescue at reducing roadbank erosion and thereby stabilizing roadbeds, the low growth habit of tall fescue is safer for driver visibility than taller growing species. Tough tall fescue sod also is highly skid-resistant, providing a safe cover for drivers who are forced from the pavement to the roadside (Hottenstein, 1970). Tall fescue provides an effective erosion control cover on roadbanks that is aesthetically pleasing and which, owing to its low growth habit, does not obstruct vision.