Winter Maintenance Activities
The Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) is responsible for winter maintenance on 1,650 miles of county roads and 581 lane miles of state highways and expressway. Winter maintenance activities include applying salt and sand, as well as plowing snow on roadways and shoulders.
With few exceptions, WCRC conducts winter maintenance on public roads located outside of cities and village limits. Cities and villages provide winter maintenance with their own workforces.
- WCRC can easily spend $3 million annually for winter maintenance, depending upon the severity of weather conditions and the length of the winter season.
- During a typical year, WCRC will provide between 50 to 75 days of winter maintenance services. The 2013/14 winter season required 103 days!
- During a typical winter, WCRC uses between 15,000-25,000 tons of salt and 5,000-10,000 tons of sand.
- WCRC employs over 60 certified, professional snow plow drivers and heavy equipment operators to help keep public roads clear during the winter.
- WCRC may deploy up to 46 snow plows during a winter storm event.
How does WCRC prioritize snow and ice removal?
Safety is the Washtenaw County Road Commission’s top priority and when a storm hits, WCRC crews begin their day early to keep roads as clear as possible. WCRC performs winter maintenance activities in accordance with the Winter Maintenance Guidelines approved annually by the Board of County Road Commissioners.
WCRC’s Winter Maintenance Guidelines include a priority system for clearing snow and ice from roads that is based on traffic volumes, location and road classification (paved, unpaved). WCRC’s winter maintenance priorities are as follows:
1st Priority: Paved County Roads and I-94, US-23, M-14 and US-12 between I-94 and M-52.
Goal: Provide a pavement surface generally bare of snow and ice across the entire width of the road. Clearing the pavement will be a continuous process during and after a snow event, and overtime will be used as necessary.
2nd Priority: M-52, M-153, M-17, BR-12, and US-12 between I-94 and Wayne County
Goal: Provide a pavement surface generally bare of ice and snow in the center portion of the road with enough width for a one-wheel track in each direction. Clearing the pavement bare of snow and ice across its entire width will be accomplished as soon as reasonably possible after a winter storm event, without use of overtime.
3rd Priority: Subdivision Roads
Goal: Provide a pavement surface that is one plow truck pass wide in each direction of travel; a thin layer of snow is permissible. This work will be accomplished as soon as reasonably possible after the completion of Priority 1 and initial goal of Priority 2. Overtime will only be utilized if 4+ inches of snow has accumulated or as determined necessary by the Superintendent of Maintenance, with the concurrence of the Director of Operations. Clearing the pavement surface of snow and ice from each side of the roadway centerline, with a thin cover of snow permissible, shall be accomplished as soon as reasonably possible without requiring overtime work.
4th Priority: Gravel Roads
Goal: Provide a road surface that is one plow truck pass wide in each direction of travel. This work will be accomplished as soon as reasonably possible after the completion of Priority 1 and the initial goal of Priority 2. Overtime will only be utilized if 4+ inches of snow has accumulated or as determined necessary by the Superintendent of Maintenance, with the concurrence of the Director of Operations. Clearing the gravel surface of snow and ice over the entire width of the roadway shall be accomplished as soon as reasonably possible without requiring overtime work.
If a storm is long lasting, or a second storm starts before Priority 3 and 4 routes have been completed, crews will return to priority 1 and 2.
When will WCRC plow my subdivision or gravel road?
Road conditions, weather forecasts, timing and severity of storms can impact our ability to clear subdivision and gravel roads. After a major storm or back-to-back storms, subdivision and gravel roads in townships might not be cleared for a few days. We clear roads according to the priority system listed above. Until Priorities 1 and 2 are cleared, we will not begin work on subdivision or gravel roads.
Due to limited resources, WCRC does not expend overtime for winter maintenance on subdivision and gravel roads unless there are 4+ inches of snow, an ice storm, blowing/drifting snow, or as determined necessary by the Superintendent of Maintenance, with the concurrence of the Director of Operations.
Please note that WCRC only plows subdivision and gravel roads located in townships. Cities and villages have their own winter maintenance crews.
A WCRC truck knocked down my mailbox! When will the Road Commission fix it?
Mailboxes can be knocked down by WCRC trucks when they plow snow. WCRC’s policy is to replace mailboxes that have been hit by the snow plow. However, if the mailbox or wooden post was broken off by the sheer force of the snow coming off the plow blade, WCRC will not replace or repair it. Please call our office and we will check into the problem. For more about down mailboxes.
WCRC encourages residents to “Shake Your Mailbox”: Before winter starts, check your mailbox and post to ensure they are secure. If the mailbox and post are not secure, they will likely be damaged due to the force of snow thrown from the snowplow.