FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Traffic Issues

Road Maintenance Issues

How do I make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request?

As a governmental agency, the Washtenaw County Road Commission is required to comply with the Public Act 442 of 1976, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

If you are interested in obtaining documents that fall within the requirements of the FOIA, you may submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request in writing to the Washtenaw County Road Commission, 555 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103, Attention: FOIA Coordinator.  (FOIA Request Form)

Please be advised that upon receipt of a FOIA request, the Road Commission has five business days in which to respond (six business days if received via fax or email), in accordance with the Act, and the requesting party will be charged for research time and copies of any documents requested. If an extension of time is necessary in order to fulfill a FOIA request, the Road Commission will notify the requesting party in writing, at which time an additional ten business days will be permitted to the agency, in accordance with the Act.  For further questions, please email the WCRC at: FOIA Coordinator

Approved minutes from the Board meetings may be obtained on the agenda page of our website. Minutes are available following the meeting at which they are approved by the Board of County Road Commissioners. If you would like to receive archived Minutes that are not available on our website, please submit a FOIA Request, as instructed above.

Back to top

How do I file a claim for damage to my vehicle?

If you are seeking compensatory damages for vehicle damage due to a defective road condition we first urge you to contact your own insurance company to see if you have applicable coverage before filing a claim with the Washtenaw County Road Commission.

Claims filed with the Washtenaw County Road Commission are decided on a case by case basis by our insurance carrier, Specialty Claims Services, Inc., or the insurance carrier of a contractor performing work within the county road right-of-way. The Washtenaw County Road Commission does not investigate potential claims and has no authority to independently settle any claims.

Primary/Local Road Damage Claim If you believe your vehicle sustained damages on a Washtenaw County Primary or Local road, due to a defective road condition, you can file a claim for damages by following the steps below.

Filing a Claim

  1. If you have not already done so, see "how do I report a pothole" or road defect.
  2. The incident must have occurred on a roadway under the jurisdiction of the Washtenaw County Road Commission. If unsure please review the county road certification maps.
  3. To obtain a claim form, please contact the Washtenaw County Road Commission Administrative Office at (734) 761-1500.
  4. . Complete the claim form and return it (with any attachments) to our Administrative Office at 555 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Construction Zone Damage Claim If your vehicle sustained damage while driving though a construction zone on a roadway under the jurisdiction of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, you may file a claim with us and we will coordinate with the responsible contractor for processing. Please follow the directions above for filing a claim omitting Step 1.

Damage Claims on Other Roadways in Washtenaw County If your vehicle sustained damage on a state trunkline highway in Washtenaw County (I-94, US-23, US-12 (Michigan Avenue), M-14, M-52, M-17 (Washtenaw Avenue or Ecorse Road), M-153 (Ford Road connected to M-14), or the Willow Run bypass), you can visit the (MDOT) website for instructions on filing a claim.

The Cities and Villages within Washtenaw County are responsible for the maintenance of roads within their respective city and village limits. If you would like to report a road defect or file a damage claim in any of the cities or villages within Washtenaw County, please contact the city or village directly.

MunicipalityPhone NumberMunicipalityPhone Number
City of Ann Arbor734) 794-6320City of Ypsilanti(734) 483-1100
City of Chelsea(734) 475-1771Village of Dexter(734) 426-8303
City of Milan(734) 439-1501Village of Manchester(734) 428-7877
City of Saline(734) 483-1100

Back to top

What do you do if there is a dead animal in the road?

If it is a large animal we will remove it from the roadway, which means we move it out the driving publics’ way. There is no agency in Washtenaw County that removes dead animals from the roadway.

Back to top

Do you remove and/or replace dead trees. Also what if the roots are coming up through my sidewalk?

If the tree is completely dead and in the ROW, we will remove the tree. We do not replace trees and request that you do not plant or landscape in the ROW. Sidewalks are the homeowner's responsibility; we do not repair and/or replace sidewalks.

Back to top

We all pay property tax, why is that not enough to cover fixing the roads?

The property tax you pay is used for your local and county governmental units and for schools, not for roads. The Road Commission budget is funded mostly by the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

Back to top

What should be kept in mind when shoveling/plowing driveways?

Homeowners should be aware that shoveling or plowing snow from driveways onto or across roads is illegal (Act 82 of 1978, vehicle code 257.677A) because it can present a serious traffic hazard to motorists. Instead, pile the snow behind the curb or shoulder on your side of the road.

Be sure to place snow to the right as you face the road, so plows will push it away from, rather back into, the driveway entrance. It is also important to avoid vision obstructions. Care should be taken not to impede the flow of storm water from melting snow in the ditches or culverts. Citizens should also make certain that their trash containers are not placed too close to the edge of the road before snow removal has taken place.

Back to top

How much tax do I pay per gallon of gasoline?

The amount of tax paid per gallon of gas consists of 19 cents for state tax and 18.3 cents for federal tax. The sale of gasoline is also subject to 6 percent sales tax in Michigan, however, this amount is not used for transportation improvements.

Back to top

Why are weight restrictions placed on county roads each spring?

Roads thaw out from the top down each spring and moisture is trapped on the surface. Heavy loads cause the break-up of gravel and bituminous surfaces during this thawing period.

Back to top

How close to the road can I place landscaping or fixtures?

Normally the distance is 33 feet from the center of the road; however, there are exceptions depending which road you reside on.

Back to top

How does the Road Commission determine when and where to put traffic signals?

A traffic control signal should not be installed unless an engineering study indicates that installing a traffic control signal will improve the overall safety and/or operation of the intersection.

The engineering study includes the evaluation of warrants (guidelines) identified in the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD). The warrants consider vehicular and pedestrian volumes, crash history, vehicle delay and vehicular progression.

Prior to the installation of a traffic control signal, the roadway may need improvements to provide acceptable traffic operations at the intersection.

Finally, adequate funding must be available to finance the installation of traffic control signal and any necessary roadway improvements.

Back to top

How are speed limits determined and by whom?

Each year the Washtenaw County Road Commission receives many questions and requests regarding speed limits on county roadways. Many of these concerns materialize as requests for reduced speed limits.

The purpose of a speed limit is to promote a safe roadway environment for motorists and pedestrians as well as to enable police enforcement of unsafe driving behavior. In order to promote the safest driving environment possible, established speed limits must be realistic.

How Speed Limits are Established on County Roads

Michigan State law governs the methods by which speed limits are established on the county road system. The Michigan Vehicle Code was updated in 2006 with unanimous approval from the Michigan House and Senate. The revisions to the vehicle code established a new prima facie method for determining speed limits. The revisions also placed great emphasis on establishing an absolute speed limit through an engineering study and the traffic control order process.

The Legislature, Michigan State Police, County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM), and representatives of the Washtenaw County Road Commission worked together to develop the changes in the vehicle code. The methods established for determining speed limits are based on empirical evidence and practices that are used throughout the country. These methods are designed to promote uniform operating speeds across the driving population and to provide the safest driving conditions possible.

The Basic Speed Law and Prima Facie Speed Limits

The Michigan Vehicle Code states that at the most basic level a “person operating a vehicle on a highway shall operate that vehicle at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper”. The Vehicle Code places responsibility on the driver to be diligent and aware of their surrounding while being fully in control of their vehicle at all times.

The Michigan Vehicle Code establishes the maximum speed limit on all highways as 55 mph. Prima facie reductions to this maximum speed include 25 mph in business districts, 25 mph on platted subdivision streets, and 15 mph in mobile home parks; these prima facie speeds do not need to be posted speed limits. Other prima facie speed reductions are based on access point density.

The Michigan Vehicle Code allows for reductions in maximum speed limits to 45, 35, or 25 mph on the basis of access point density per half mile. Prima facie speed reductions on the basis of accesses points require the speed limit to be posted on the roadway. Maximum speed limit reductions made through this method require a field investigation where the number of access points (commercial driveways, residential driveways, and intersections) per half mile is determined. Reductions to the speed limit can be made if any of the following criteria are met:

  • 25 miles per hour on a highway segment with 60 or more vehicular access points within 1/2 mile
  • 35 miles per hour on a highway segment with not less than 45 vehicular access points but no more than 59 vehicular access points within 1/2 mile
  • 45 miles per hour on a highway segment with not less than 30 vehicular access points but no more than 44 vehicular access points within 1/2 mile

Back to top

Why do some left turn lanes at traffic signals have protected arrows?

Protected Only left turn signals allow vehicles to proceed during the display of the green left turn arrow only. No permissive green ball or flashing yellow arrow is displayed, therefore vehicles may not move during gaps in the opposing through traffic.

The considerations for installation of Protected Only left signals include:

  • High left turn traffic volume
  • High Opposing through volume
  • An existing crash history
  •  The geometric design of the roadway is such that sight distance for left turn traffic is insufficient for safe completion of a left turn across opposing traffic
  • High speed opposing through traffic
  • Left turning vehicles must cross 3 or more lanes of opposing through traffic
  • There are multiple left turn lanes

Protected Only left turn arrows that precede the through movements are referred to as leading left turns. Left turn arrows that follow the through movement are referred to as lagging left turns.

If a signalized intersection warrants the need for a protected only left turn phase then the Washtenaw County Road Commission will install the protected only left turn signals to operate in the manner described above due to the safety of the left turning vehicles.  Our installation of the left turn phase includes providing vehicle detection to minimize the delay to receiving a green arrow to proceed through the intersection.  If a left turn phase is not responsive please contact our office at 734-761-1500 or email at wcrc@wcroads.org to file a service request for us to investigate the problem.

Back to top

How can I get my road graded?

Please call our office directly at (734) 761-1500. We will respond as quickly as possible, however at times road grading must be postponed due to weather. If the road is too dry or too wet, grading has little affect other than to re-arrange dust or mud.

Back to top

How can I get my road dust controlled?

We contract with each township on dust control applications each year. We do offer dust control for a nominal fee.

Back to top

Why do you spread all that tar and gravel on the paved roads?

The process referred to is called "sealcoating"

  • It is a relatively low cost method of preserving existing low to moderate-volume asphalt pavements.
  • Tar is actually liquid asphalt which penetrates and seals small cracks in the existing pavement.  Sealing these cracks on a regular basis prevents water from seeping into and softening the base of the road, thereby deterring pothole formation.
  • The slag chips used for cover material sticks to the emulsion and, after rolling and sweeping, provides a slightly roughened skid resistant surface to improve safety.
  • Although sealcoating can preserve and extend the life of the pavement, it is only a surface treatment.  Sealcoating does not fill existing bumps, holes, or irregularities and thus does not improve the ride quality.  For this reason, it is important to apply sealcoat to a road BEFORE this deterioration occurs.  The Road Commission will sealcoat roads that are in generally good condition rather than wait for them to deteriorate to the point that extensive patching is necessary.

Back to top

Which roads are plowed first?

Winter maintenance operations will be conducted based on a priority system established on the County and State Trunkline roads. The priorities primarily have been established based on traffic volumes.

  • Priority 1 - State Trunklines
  • Priority 2 - High volume hard surface roads
  • Priority 3 - Medium volume hard surface roads
  • Priority 4 - Subdivision streets
  • Priority 5 - Gravel roads

More information is available on our Winter Maintenance page.

Back to top

Your truck knocked down my mailbox! When are you going to fix it?

Mailboxes are sometimes knocked down by road commission trucks when plowing snow. The Road Commission's policy is to replace mailboxes that have actually been hit by the snow plow; however, if the mailbox or wooden post was broken off from the force of the snow coming off the plow blade, we do not replace or repair it. Please call our office and we will check into the problem.

Back to top