winter maintenance

The Road Commission is responsible for 1042.74 miles of road.  This consists of 247.38 miles of Primary Roads, 587.36 miles of Local Roads, and 208 lane miles of State Trunklines or Highways.  Snow removal is done on a priority system.  State Highways have the highest priority.  We are obligated to stay on most of these Highways until they are clear of snow.  Many of our Primary Roads are tended to at the same time we are plowing State Highways.  When the State Highways and Primary Roads are clear, we move to the Local Roads and Subdivisions, also known as "side streets."  We strive to have all roads plowed, at least with a single pass, on the first day.  This is not always possible due to unforeseen circumstances, such as continuing snowfall, equipment breakdowns, or employee illness.

Ogemaw receives, on the average, 62 inches of snow in a winter. This snow compounded by the drifting that we get, makes a job out of keeping roads open all winter. We have 18 men assigned to snowplow routes.   Generally we don't like to work the day shift over eight to ten hours as it is more dangerous plowing at night and we want them rested for the next morning. However, they sometimes work seven days a week and up to 16 hours a day during the winter.

The main roads (I-75, M-55, M-33, M-30) are plowed first and then the men go on their routes. Within each route the primary routes are plowed first. Unfortunately, someone must be first and someone must be last and depending on where you live, it may be late in the day before your road is plowed. If the man on your route gets stuck or has a breakdown it may be later than usual. After a storm we try to open a narrow path down all roads the first day and widen them out the second day. If another storm hits the second day we start over and it could be several days before all the roads are widened out. We get in a lot of trouble when widening these roads because it tends to fill driveways. Contrary to popular opinion, we can not lift the plow at driveways, swerve away from driveways or put all the snow across the road from driveways. The worst case is when you are unable to plow or snow blow your own drive and our truck fills it just after your plow man has left. You may even have more of a problem than your neighbor depending on how the snow drifts by your driveway.

I don't know how our drivers are able to plow so close to mailboxes day after day and rarely hit one. If we do, physically, hit one we will replace it with a standard size mailbox, not a fancy one. If the snow coming off the plow knocks your mailbox off you are liable for that. Please do not put your garbage on the shoulder of the road in the winter, we probably will hit it and you will have a mess. We cannot plow any private roads or driveways. We are not allowed to spend public money on private roads or driveways. The law does allow Road Commissions in the Upper Peninsula to plow drives but not here.

We do not necessarily plow all County roads. Some are seasonal roads, too narrow, too steep or don't have a place to turn around. The school buses pretty much will only go on plowed county roads so check with us before you buy or build a house if you are not sure. We also don't plow roads that no one lives on, that wastes money.

County trucks when working on the road are exempt from the motor vehicle code. This allows them to back up in the roads, plow intersections, drive on the shoulder, etc. When our trucks are loaded full of snow it is sometimes hard for them to see a little car. For this reason, you should try to stay clear of County trucks as they may not do what you expect. Also, our trucks are not capable of plowing at 70 MPH as we are sometimes accused, more like 35 - 40 MPH. With all the snow flying it appears the truck is going faster. It is important for them to go relatively fast to get the snow thrown back far enough so a high bank doesn't form. We have to push back high banks with a grader and wing and that is real time consuming.

Did you know, that it is against the law to push snow across the road?  It is dangerous to the motoring public and could cause an accident.  Or it could possibly damage our equipment or cause one of our drivers to have an accident as well.  The Michigan Vehicle Code states that the "obstruction of safety vision by removal or deposit of snow, ice, or slush prohibited."

One last thing, if you have an emergency and need to get plowed out in a hurry, call the Sheriff's Department or the State Police. They will get in contact with us and get you out.

Winter Snow Safety

Snow Alert Flyer

Winter Maintenance Guidelines

White Shoulder Policy

Myths Reality Check - Roads & Salt Usage

Yearly Snow Totals