Taking advantage of winter warm-up

Pic 2

Road commission continues work as snow takes break

MANISTEE COUNTY — A Northern Michigan winter is full of surprises, keeping both the driving public and staff at the Manistee County Road Commission (MCRC) on their toes.

Preparation is key, however, and the MCRC has been ready to react accordingly to whatever winter tosses its way.

“We’ve had some or all of our crew working extended hours on an as-needed basis during the normal weekdays, weekends and holidays due to the various winter events,” said Mark Sohlden, manager of the MCRC. “The cold weather (leading up this week’s warm spell) made it difficult to treat the main paved roads, such as the state highways, as salt was ineffective with cold temperatures, so we had to place a sand/salt mixture in select areas.”

As of Thursday, the MCRC has recorded approximately 106 inches of snow so far this winter, as compared to nearly 54 inches at the same time last winter. This season’s running total has already eclipsed the approximate snow fall (94 inches) recorded all of last winter.

A portion of the MCRC crew clocked hours of winter plowing/maintenance during the Christmas and New Year’s weekends as well as last weekend.

“Lately we have been dealing with a lot of drifting in various locations due to the recent snows and high winds which has impacted some of the east-west roads especially closer to Lake Michigan,” Sohlden reported.

On Thursday morning, crews could be found taking advantage of the week’s warmer temperatures by patching potholes along U.S. 31.

“The recent warm spell is finally allowing us to clear off the existing paved roads but we are hoping that it doesn’t last too long as it will have a major impact on the snow covered local gravel and dirt roads,” Sohlden explained. “Warm weather and rain can turn the snow pack into slush and make the roads difficult to drive on with normal passenger vehicles and it makes it difficult for us to plow and maintain the roads.”

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), “Potholes are created when snow and ice melt as part of Michigan’s seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. Moisture seeps into the pavement, freezes, expands and thaws, creating a gap in the pavement. As vehicles drive over the gap, the pavement weakens leading to a pothole.”

MDOT asks drivers to report potholes to its website, where one can pinpoint the location of the pothole and describe its size, depth and overall danger to passing vehicles.

One can also call (888) 296-4546 to report a pothole on a state road (any road beginning with M, I or US designations).

With a pause in the precipitation this week, the MCRC is also preparing for the snow that’s sure to fall sooner or later.

“We are also working on pushing back snow banks along roads to allow for snow storage for future snow events this winter,” Sohlden said, adding a safety reminder to drivers during the winter months.  “We ask drivers to be patient and to drive according to road conditions and to slow down so they can safely reach their destinations.”

Residents should also keep in mind that the practice of pushing snow onto or across the plowed portion of the roadway or shoulders is both dangerous and illegal (Act No. 82, Public Acts of 1978) and those performing this action could be held liable for property damage or personal injury resulting from accidents it could potentially cause.

Residents should also routinely remove snow from around their mail and newspaper boxes so they are visible to the snowplow drivers during their snow plowing operations.

Leave a Reply