Winter Storm Cleanup to be SLOW this year!

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Local 4 Traffic Blog by: Lauren Podell

raffles-city-christmasCan you believe it? Winter is right around the corner! I mean Thanksgiving is less than 4 weeks away. That means Christmas decorations are already on display at every mall in America…. and SNOW is on the brian. It won’t be long before we need to snow scrapers, defroster’s, and fleece gloves on a daily basis.  So that means MDOT and all of the counties road commissions are looking ahead to winter driving season! Specifically, the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) warns drivers that winter storm clean up this year may take longer than in past years due the agency’s reduced staff resulting from years of declining revenue.

WATCH FOR MY FULL STORY TONIGHT ON LOCAL 4 NEWS AT 6PM!

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 “In the past, we had 190 employees available to drive snowplows/salt trucks in the winter,” stated RCOC Board Chairman Richard Skarritt. “Today, we have 150. That’s a 21 percent reduction in available drivers.” ((NOT GOOD))snow-plow
 

Skarrritt added RCOC typically puts 106 snowplows/salt trucks on the road to battle a major snow or ice storm. The initial drivers can stay on the road for up to 16 hours ((wow, you thought your day was long!)) before they must rest ((for only 5 1/2 hours)), according to RCOC rules. In the past, RCOC was able to replace the initial 106 drivers with up to 84 drivers for a second 16-hour shift to continue fighting the storm or to clean up after the storm. This year, no more than 44 drivers will be available for the second shift ((ALSO, NOT GOOD)).

TowPlow
 

“The current fiscal year (2009/10) marks the fourth straight year in which our primary source of operating funds – revenue from the state gas tax and vehicle registration fees – has declined,” Skarritt explained. “Those four years of decline follow nearly 10 years of virtually flat revenues. We’ll receive less funding in the current fiscal year than we received in 2000.”

 RCOC maintains nearly all state roads in the county on a contract basis for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). MDOT has mandated a slightly lower level of service on some non-freeway state routes.

The impacted state routes are:

  1. Woodward (M-1)
  2. Northwestern Highway (M-10)
  3.  Grand River Ave. in Farmington Hills (M-5)
  4.  Rochester Road in Rochester Hills (M-150)
  5. Auburn Road in Rochester Hills (old M-59)
  6. Square Lake Road between Telegraph and I-75 (Business Route 75)
  7. Ortonville Road (M-15) north of Dixie Highway

On the impacted routes, MDOT has instructed RCOC not to clear the roads during overtime (anytime other than the normal weekday shift of 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) except during storms or unless otherwise instructed. For these roads, MDOT mandated that RCOC clear them to the point that the road is “generally bare of ice and snow” in the wheel tracks, and then finish clearing the next regular work day. In the past, RCOC would have cleared these roads to bare pavement regardless of the time.

State routes NOT affected by this are:

  1.  I-75
  2. I-696
  3. I-96
  4. M-59
  5. I-275
  6. the freeway portion of M-10
  7. the   M-5 extension
  8. US 24 (Telegraph)
  9. M-24 (Lapeer Road)
     
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