Road commission readies for winter
ARENAC COUNTY — Freezing rain that caused some slick road conditions Nov. 25 reminded drivers that winter is not far off, which means it will not be long before the road commission is out plowing and salting roads throughout Arenac County.
Road Commission Superintendent Blair Dyer said the road commission purchased $75,000 worth of salt this year, which equals about 5,000 tons. The majority of the salt will be used to reduce icy conditions on the state highways — I-75, US-23, M-65 and M-61 — according to Dyer.
Dyer said the salt on hand is expected to last throughout the winter. How much salt is used during the season often depends on what type of winter weather is most common, Dyer said.
“Every storm’s a little different, and it depends on temperature and what’s going on,” he said. “Rain is the worst, because it takes a lot of salt. When you get a lot of rain in the winter, that’s the worst because the salt gets washed away and it keeps freezing.”
The state routes are plowed and salted first in the winter, followed by county primary routes and then local roads, Dyer said. In many cases, the road commission can tackle the state roads and then move on to the primaries and locals, but Dyer said that also depends on the nature of the weather.
“That depends on the storm, too,” he said. “Sometimes the storm comes in, and it’s done by the morning. The ones that hurt us are the storms that go all day. Some days we don’t get off the states.”
Dyer said the road commission will have six drivers working on a night crew starting Dec. 2. He said the night crew’s main function is to keep the state routes clear through the night, but the drivers will be able to go elsewhere if they are requested to do so by Arenac County Central Dispatch.
While the night crew focuses mostly on the state roads, in some cases it does make it easier for the road commission to get onto primary roads, because by the morning the state roads may require less work.
“If the storm stops in the middle of the night, we can have more time on primaries,” he said. “We don’t have to spend as much time on the states.”
Equipment necessary for the winter season is in decent shape, according to Dyer. He said the road commission has 16 trucks that can be equipped with plows, although a few of them are backup trucks. The average age of the fleet is 13 years old, Dyer said. The plow trucks are also used to spread salt, he added.