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Posted on Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Mild winter means less salt use, less overtime for Road Commission

By Lisa Allmendinger

With not a lot of snow the last two months, Washtenaw County Road Commission employees have been grading gravel roads throughout the county and working on other routine maintenance.


Roy Townsend at his first meeting as the new managing director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission.

Lisa Allmendinger |

“Thankfully, so far it’s been a mild winter,” said Road Commission Chairman Doug Fuller, who asked for a report accounting for the amount of overtime that’s been amassed up to this point.

In fact, as the crews ready for the inevitable first substantial snowfall of the New Year, much less salt was used in November and December when compared with last year.

“It’s roughly about half as much,” said Aaron Berkholz, new superintendent of operations, said Tuesday afternoon.

Records show that 1,745 tons of salt were spread through Dec. 27. “This compares to 3,618 tons for the same time in 2010,” he said.

Next month, it’s expected that a report of a complete list of planned major road projects for 2012 and when they will go out for bid will be compiled for the Road Commissioners by new Director of Engineering Sheryl Siddall.

Berkholz also told Road Commissioners that following a “rash of manhole thefts and storm sewer inlet grates,” two “accused thieves were caught” after they sold the items to a scrap yard on Milan-Oakville Road.

There were no reports of accidents from the thefts, and Road Commission crews immediately marked the open holes with barrels and cones, he said, as soon as they were alerted to them. “We’ve taken measures to try and prevent future thefts,” he said.

In addition, the Road Commissioners unanimously approved a new contract for the 2012 local road matching program funding and will soon begin meeting with elected officials from all 20 townships to discuss road projects. Residents who would like specific roads fixed in 2012 should contact their township supervisors with their recommendations.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at


Bertha Venation

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

Hope they can fix Dexter Ave. between Huron and Maple. These blowouts on my Hoveround are-a-killin' me!


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

Wrong entity Bertha.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Score one for global warming!!


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

I'm sure they'll use it as an excuse to not buy as much next year and then promptly run out after the first major storm next winter.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

What happened to that follow up article you were going to do about the questions we asked of the road commission a couple of months back? Did that ever get written?


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

Hi jeanarrett: I remember seeing an article recently where they answered 5 questions. Is this what you meant? <a href=""></a>


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

Welcome to the Washtenaw Road Commission Newsletter - here you will find daily articles on the road commission. We're here for YOU!


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Yup, they used less salt so far this year. Yesterday, I was driving on Bedford Road in Ann Arbor, a hilly residential city street, that was covered with ice for its entire length. Guess they are saving the salt for next year! Oh that's right, can't use salt, it's not politically correct....

Bertha Venation

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

hmmm... I think they are trading in the salt for more ART! :)


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

I get the biggest kick out watching the snow plows try and make work out of 1 or 2 inch snow---do you think overtime is on their minds, when the trucks should have never left the barn-but wait , before the winter is over and I bet a dollar to a nickel----the road commision will issue a statement, saying they are running low on salt---great gig if you can get it---and they always figure out a way to get that overtime--and with no oversite by anyone who really cares about wasting money---it is a great gig


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

And how many snow plows have YOU driven? I thought so! And where do you get your information ( I purposely did not refer to your statements as fact) about overtime and who decides when they &quot;leave the barn&quot;?


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Two inches of packed down snow becomes a layer of ice. Let the experts do their job.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Call them and report it. I've done that a few times for the dirt roads I travel and they have responded by grading them within a day or two. I have also reported icy dirt road intersections where dirt/paved roads meet that are clearly a safety issue and they have responded to those calls also.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Even with the so-far relatively 'mild' winter, the dirt roads have taken a freeze/thaw beating and really need to be graveled and graded. The ones near my house are virtually impassible right now (unless you don't mind busting an axle or two), hope the Road Commission gets to it soon!