The Muskegon County Road Commission is urging motorists to be safe this winter. Pictured above: Road Commission trucks plow Whitbeck Road after a major snow storm in February 2011.
The Muskegon County Road Commission (MCRC) is urging motorists to remember good driving habits in winter weather conditions that will make the roadways safer.
Just as MCRC snow plow drivers are preparing for winter conditions, motorists should be getting ready, too. MCRC is encouraging motorists to monitor the weather and when a MCRC truck is seen on the road doing their job, give them plenty of space.
The MCRC is responsible for maintaining over 1,400 miles of roads that include the state highways (expressways). Road crews must have ample room in order to safely clear the many miles of roadway of snow and ice. A steady decrease in road funding and an increase in costs have caused the road commission to plow the same miles of road with fewer employees. With that said, many of the road commission trucks are now supplied with snow wings that will allow plowing services to be completed more quickly in some areas. The large trucks are hard enough to maneuver through traffic and with the snow wing attached, it becomes even more challenging.
The snow and ice removal plan is the same as last winter season and the MCRC drivers will follow the same procedure as last year. The plan is setup as a priority system meaning that state expressways like US-31, BR-31 and I-96 will get immediate attention as weather mandates. The M-routes such as M-46, M-37 and M-120 will be serviced with a goal of providing a pavement surface that is free from drifts, snow ridges and as much snow pack as practical.
According to Laurie Peterson, maintenance superintendent for the MCRC, the road commission uses pure salt on the expressways, unless the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In those conditions, a salt/sand mixture is applied when ice conditions exist on the expressways.
Primary roads are the priority on the county system with local roads and subdivision roads following. On the county system, road commission drivers will be called out after hours and on weekends if four inches of snow have fallen and/or if there is a continuous storm. For slippery conditions after hours or on weekends sanding crews will be dispatched as appropriate.
The MCRC will be using an enhanced calcium chloride product called “Boost” to anti-ice bridge decks ahead of a winter event whenever possible. The salt and sand material used in snow removal is wetted down with a calcium chloride brine to centralize materials and minimize scatter and bounce.
The MCRC offers the following reminders to motorists:
• Snow plows have limited visibility and drivers cannot see directly behind their trucks.
• Snow plows often throw up snow clouds, reducing the visibility on all sides of the truck.
• Snow plows need to clear the middle of roadways, often hugging the center lines.
• Motorists should never attempt to pass a moving snow plow on the right: especially now that they are equipped with wings.
• Always wear your seat belt and allow extra time to reach your destinations this winter.
Help prevent other hazardous conditions by not plowing excess snow from driveways across the road, by not piling snow high near intersections, by not placing items in the right of way such as parked vehicles and instructing children to not play near the road or throw snowballs at moving traffic.