Cass County Road Commission sets priorities

Published 3:11 pm Thursday, December 12, 2013


Special to the Argus


CASSOPOLIS — The Cass County Road Commission says that with the winter season well under way and with safe driving conditions a top priority, it has announced its goals and objectives for winter maintenance operations.

Engineer-Manager Christopher Bolt announced that plowing operations on 1,014 miles of county roads, 24 routes generally begin when slippery conditions exist or snow levels reach about two inches.

Bolt said crews address primary roads and apply ice control materials on road surfaces at intersections, hills and curves. Local roads are plowed next, corresponding to lower speeds and/or traffic volumes. Subdivisions, lakeshore neighborhoods and gravel roads are plowed after all primary and high priority local roads are safe and passable.

Bolt said due to budgetary limitations, the low priority roads do not generally get plowed during overtime hours unless more than four inches of snow accumulation has occurred or unless management determines a need.

Trucks are equipped with underbody scrapers, front plows and sanders to apply ice control materials. There are six-wing plows used to clear wider swaths to include the driving lane and adjacent shoulders. The commission’s goal is to have all roads plowed within 48 hours of a snow event.

Management teams work with the sheriff’s office and central dispatch to monitor road conditions throughout the night. Crews begin plowing between 3 and 7 a.m. or earlier if needed.

Bold said the road commission’s primary source of funding is the Michigan Transportation Fund, but revenues have remained stagnant for more than  a decade while operational costs have risen each year with inflation.

Its staffing level is 50 percent less than it was 10 years ago. Today there are 30 employees.

Bolt concluded that trash receptacles should be placed in driveways and not on road edges. They should be removed as soon as possible after being emptied.

Snow plows occasionally damage mailboxes. If this happens, he urged residents to bring their damaged mailbox to the office at 340 N. O’Keefe Street, Cassopolis, for a replacement post and metal mailbox plus $20 to help cover installation costs.

Children should not be allowed to play on or near the roadway, and motorists should be mindful of the need for plows to have space, he said. He also reminded residents to not push snow across the road or leave piles in the road. It is a violation of state law to do so.

Residents are urged to contact the road commission with concerns at 445-8611.