Plows need room to workPublished 5:34pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012
With winter at hand, the Cass County Road Commission would like to remind residents that while crews work to keep roads passable, there is no “bare roads” policy in effect.
The road commission is responsible for plowing 1,014 miles of public roads throughout Cass County, divided up into 24 routes.
The systematic operation begins on primary roads and selected heavily traveled local roads when conditions warrant, or when snow accumulates in excess of two inches.
Due to budgetary constraints in recent years, the road commission had to scrap its bare roads policy several years ago. A comprehensive snow and ice removal policy was implemented in 2008 with subsequent amendments as necessary.
Crews address primary roads, intersections, hills and curves on the first plowing and use ice control materials beyond the primary roads as the work continues. Local roads are plowed next, corresponding to lower speeds and/or traffic volumes. Subdivision, lakeside and gravel roads are plowed last and are not typically plowed during overtime hours unless more than four inches accumulation of snow occurs, or as otherwise warranted by weather conditions.
Plowing generally is done with trucks equipped with underbody scrapers, front plows and sand/salt spreaders to apply ice control materials, which is comprised of a mixture of sand and salt. Areas plowed with graders and tractors are not sanded unless conditions warrant and approval is given by the superintendent or manager.
The road commission now counts wing plows among its equipment as those throw wider swaths of snow, thus reducing plowing time. The goal is to open all roads in the county within 48 hours of a snow storm. However, if additional snowfall impacts higher priority roads, crews are redirected to those even if lower priority roads are not completed, officials say.
For safety reasons, plowing operations are terminated after 14 continuous hours of work to allow crew members time to rest. Operations also are suspended when visibility is limited. Road foremen begin assessing road conditions at 3 a.m. during weather events.
Residents are reminded to help crews by adhering to “common sense” safety measures.
Those include not allowing children to play near the roadway where they could be struck by sticks or rocks being thrown by plows, and for drivers not to follow plowing equipment too closely.
Also important, officials say, is for residents to place trash receptacles in their driveways instead of in the roadways and to remove those receptacles as soon as they are emptied. Officials also explain that it is a violation of state law to push snow across the roads from driveways or leave snow in the middle of the road.
It is not uncommon for snow plows to inadvertently damage mailboxes. Residents who need mailbox replacement because of plow damage are asked to take the mailbox to the road commission’s headquarters at 340 N. O’Keefe St., Cassopolis.
They will be given a replacement wooden post, a standard metal mailbox and a check for $20 will be mailed subsequently to help cover installation costs.