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Posted on Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Road Commission facing winter with aging fleet, potential lack of experienced operations employees

By Lisa Allmendinger

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct information about the recomended equipment replacement.

This winter, the Washtenaw County Road Commission is bracing for the possibility of a double whammy.

Its operations department, which handles snowplowing and sanding, is readying for winter operations with an aging fleet of vehicles and the possibility of as many as 10 employees retiring before the end of the year.

With an “unmet liability of $7.5 million for replacement vehicles and no substantial additional funding from the state and federal governments in sight, the Road Commission could be facing slick and bumpy roads ahead.

Thumbnail image for Washtenaw Road Commission snow plow.JPG

Officials say the Washtenaw County Road Commission needs to replace an aging fleet.

On Jan. 1, new state health care and pension mandates go into effect, so it’s possible that up to 10 longtime Road Commission employees may choose to retire “which will leave a huge void in operations,” officials said. They will have to be replaced by less experienced drivers who don’t know the terrain as well as the experienced drivers.

“We need more funding for a sustainable fleet,” said Jim Harmon, director of operations.

Officials said the employees take pride in the Road Commission vehicles and are doing everything possible to maintain the aging fleet but only so much can be done with equipment that has met or exceeded its lifespan. The Road Commission has 150 pieces of road equipment that includes 51 heavy trucks — considered “the universal work vehicle” for scraping, plowing, salting, sanding and patching roads — and 16 mower tractors.

During a storm, 46 of the 51 heavy trucks are deployed, Harmon said, and four are left in reserve should there be a problem. The recommended average age for the heavy truck fleet is five years. The recommended replacement for the heavy trucks is 10 years or 100,000 miles.

The average odometer reading for these trucks is 97,000 miles, and the recommended average average odometer reading for the heavy fleet is 50,000. In 1995, it cost about $72,000 to replace one of these vehicles; today, the cost is $150,000.

“The overdue replacement cost is $3.9 million,” Harmon said of the heavy truck fleet.

With dwindling resources, instead of replacing the recommended five pieces of equipment per year, the Road Commission systematically replaces just two. “As our fleet gets older, we spend more money on repairs … it becomes a hole in the ocean to pour money into,” said Chairman Doug Fuller.

And, without functioning equipment, the roads don’t get plowed, paved or scraped.

“This is a mechanized agency,” Harmon said, adding, “It’s vital to have reliable equipment for our core services.”

Road Commissioner Ken Schwartz recently toured one of the yards and observed employees “are painting over rust (in an effort to prolong a vehicle’s life). I don’t know how long these vehicles will last.”

The 11 motor graders, the second most important piece of equipment for the Road Commission, have an average age of 8.3 years, while the average age for a motor grader fleet is six years. A motor grader is recommended for replacement at 12 years of 12,000 hours. The total current cost for overdue replacements of these vehicles is $750,000.

Later this month, the Road Commission will hold a work session to discuss its budget for next year, and it’s expected that the replacement cost of $320,000 for three vehicles will be included in the operation’s budget. Requested are two tandem dump trucks at an estimated cost of $150,000 each and a three-quarter ton pickup at an estimated cost of $20,000.

One of the dump trucks slated for replacement has about 151,500 miles on it, and the other has about 126,000 miles on its odometer.

These vehicles were chosen based on the allotted $325,000 per year in the capital improvement plan, the critical nature of the need, condition, age, maintenance and operational costs and depreciation.

Harmon said that at least $1.2 million is needed per year to get the Road Commission’s fleet in proper working order.

“This equipment is essential to fulfilling the (Road Commission’s) mission,” according to a fleet replacement report presented Tuesday afternoon.

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



Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

I am curious to know if one of these trucks has ever been pulled over for speeding or wreckless driving. Are they allowed special consideration to just drive how they want to? More than once I have been in fear for my life because of a speeding plow/salt truck, changing lanes with little clearance, taking up multiple lanes suddenly, erractic lane changes (from shoulder to shoulder even!). Unsafe entry distance when merging onto the opposite side of the freeway. I have yet to see a turn signal used (do they not have them?) Please, for the experienced drivers SLOW DOWN, for the unexperienced drivers God helps us.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

@tesla, I didn't complain about them not plowing fast enough. I imgaine it is difficult to navigate through minivans and late to work people. @treetown, I clearly cede the right away when available to larger vehicles (gladly so!) just saying there have been times that myself and other drivers were unable to cede the right of way due to sudden moves from the truck across multiple lanes of freeway. Changing lanes suddenly (in short distances, across mulitiple lanes) without a signal is dangerous to other drives which includes semis on the freeway. A signal shows intent, driving to the next turn around spot might be better than trying to make the one two feet away. @ tesla, Ganga mamas? I don't know if that was direct towards me or not. I don't support that stuff in any form and don't apprieciate the comment.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

I think you are supposed to cede the right of way to plow trucks.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

Are you serious? First they don't plow fast enough and now they drive too fast? Is there some gathering at Ganga Mamas in the early morning that I don't know about? Again. You just do not have a clue what it takes and how utterly difficult it is to drive a truck that size amongst all the mini vans and drivers late for work in the morning while trying to clear snow. Most of you would have a difficult and anxious time driving one of these trucks on the salt flats let alone clearing snow or salting in between moms taking kids to school, and people late for work.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

Welcome to the real world where most private companies have vehicles with much higher mileage and we can't add fees or raise taxes. Many private haulers will typically run their vehicles for 400,000 miles or more; they're just getting broken it at 150,000. Simple solution - PRIVATIZE; plus then we're not on the hook for retirement benefits for supervisors and operators.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

@hut hut - I've met many "union" people who never hire union painters, plumbers, electricians, lawn services, maids, etc. to do work at heir house and they don't seem to lose any sleep over it. It only seems to bother them when I don't want to take my hard-earned tax dollars to support a overpaid job in the governmetn that it bugs them while they "exploit" those they profess to be so concerned about. I'll cut your lawn for $100,000 per year.............

hut hut

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 10:45 p.m.

In quest of the almighty dollar, welcome to the race to the bottom. In jobs, wages, benefits, housing, education, health care, quality of life... To the richest belong the spoils, to the rest, you're on your own.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

@ron - why would you pay if they didn't plow? I don't understand your logic. Nsme me one thing the governemnt does efficiently except spend more than it should cost for just about everything. @hut-hut - so your idea of higher paying jobs is to subsidize the true, open market cost with my tax dollars? Makes my point with Ron even that much more..........The true market will pay what it can afford; not the inflated wages and benefits negotiated by some bureaucrat spending our hard earned dollars while the rest of us are expected to work for half that amount in total compensation for plowing snow or doing road work

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

"Welcome to the real world where most private companies have vehicles with much higher mileage and we can't add fees or raise taxes. Many private haulers will typically run their vehicles for 400,000 miles or more; they're just getting broken it at 150,000." Welcome to the world where we are discussing SNOW PLOWS, not over the road "haulers". Just imagine if your vision of privatization happened - We''d pay some company a bunch of money and then when the snow hit, they'd show up with "hauler" trucks instead of snow plows.

hut hut

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

The public sector is horrible at contracting out almost always going with the lowest bidder... and gets what we pay for. There is always "fine print" that favors the contractor over the paying public "customer". You also have to pay for profit in addition to overhead costs. And the profit is never returned to the customer or passed on to the employees. The public loses control of the service delivery. Contracting privately for public services, that serve EVERYONE, all taxpayers residents, users whatever, is never the panacea it seems. Then again if you like fewer (fewer because the private sector will cut jobs far faster than the public) minimum wage, low skilled jobs, I say go for it, but don't come back and say I told you so.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

Well, who is surprised by this? I've posted many times here on the gross inadequacy of the snow removal in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas. This article only confirms that we are in for more accidents this winter due to lousy plowing. Who ever heard of a city that waits for 4" of snow to fall BEFORE even starting to plow? How ridiculous is that! I've lived in Minneapolis, MN, and Buffalo, NY, two cities with far more snow and ice than Ann Arbor, and there was NEVER a problem with removal, even after large storms. They run trucks all night long, if needed. None of this waiting until morning to START the plowing. The Road Commission operates like a bunch of amateurs, and unless they hire professionals and start taking snow removal seriously, everyone will pay more in auto insurance premiums due to more accidents directly related to unplowed streets and roads. There really is no excuse for the bad snow removal in Washtenaw County. Surrounding counties do a MUCH better job.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

Well, like I have said before several times, you just don't know whats involved and it is easy to criticize these hard workers doing a thankless job while you sit in your warm home drinking coffee. I for one think the road commission does a great job and I am thankful they are there at 2 AM working to keep the roads as safe as they can while I am in bed with visions of sugarplums in my head.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

The equipment in question does more than plow snow, and plowing snow is HARD on equipment. These trucks plow gravel roads, haul asphalt, spend hours idling as traffic control devices(which shows no miles but adds hours upon hours of engine duty) etc. I have plowed snow and spread asphalt, it is HARD on equipment. These are not family SUV's that haul hockey equipment twice a week.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

If there is a labor exodus of senior employees at year-end, then the road commission will have more room in the budget since any replacements/new hires will cost less. Wasn't that the point of all those early-retirement incentive packages in vogue a couple years ago?

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

WASHTENAW COUNTY: Republicans cry foul over Road Commission's plan to leave voters out of millage approval process Published: Sunday, September 25, 20 <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:37 p.m.

OK, the WCRC is apparently asking for more money in a millage. This is on their site. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> They say that their trucks last a much shorter length of time than Sterns County MN They have about the same number of paved roads to plow as Sterns. They have almost twice as many trucks as Sterns.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Dear Road Commission, I am certain, most of us are grateful for the fact that we do have people like you and trucks that help remove the snow, and take care of the roads in inclement weather. Thank you for this...please take care of the trucks and maintain them the way they should be and you will get many more miles and years of use. My SUV has close to 250,000 miles..... and is almost 9 years old-and in this tough economy we all have to take care of what we have, be content. No one needs more taxes.....we all need to do the best we can under the circumstances, make do ....use the great mechanics you have on staff. I am sure there ingenuity can keep these trucks going for many years to come. Thank you for your service to the county and your hard work.

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:31 p.m.

It so easy to be the &quot;hero&quot; by slashing costs. But then, when the bridge needs to be replaced at a cost of $23 million, you might wonder about the cost of being the &quot;hero&quot;. You might ask how much other infrastructure was irreparably damaged as a result of short-term thinking. But by that point, the &quot;hero&quot; has probably moved on to &quot;bigger&quot; things. The bridge example is just a strawman. Clearing the roads in winter is important, but maintaining our costly infrastructure is probably much more critical in the long-term. We need to make certain our infrastructure is being properly maintained by people who actually care about the work they do.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

Build more bicycle bridges over US-23.............

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

And we need someone to watch how our money is being spent.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:20 p.m.

How about allowing snow mobiles on the right of ways of all county roads?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

Don't laugh, I used to live in a town with designated snow mobile parking in the winter.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

Do these &quot;mechanics&quot; belong to the same union that shut down Detroit busses with their refusal to properly repair the busses? What a &quot;set up&quot;. There ought to be a law against conspiring for a city service to &quot;fail&quot;. As far as I'm concerned they can shut down the whole agency and contract plowing out to people who need the work.

hut hut

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

You get what you pay for. Want roads taken care of? Equipment costs money and so do experienced drivers. Decades of snow removal and maintenance industry records from across the nation, tell operators and supervisors the point of diminishing returns when spending money to R&amp;R and maintain equipment. Even the private sector knows this and operates under these realities. And now that the knuckle draggers are in charge of municipal finances, they'll pay minimum wage for &quot;experienced&quot; drivers, who will end up costing more money in the long run from accidents, breakage etc. Now that anyone working for the public is labeled with a scarlet A on their forehead, who would want to work for a municipal government? Privatize these services and the outcome will no different, except that the taxpayers will be on the hook with no recourse.

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

&quot;Privatize these services and the outcome will no different&quot; Actually, I think it would be worse because of the profit motive. Job #1 becomes PROFIT. It becomes a &quot;cost plus&quot; model.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

Since we're a pedestrian community, I'm failing to see the relevance of this article.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

You think everything revolves around A2? This is in reference to the Washtenaw County Road Commission NOT A2... Not Yosi... Not Saline...The county roads.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

Who is a pedestrian community?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

@ maryln wilkie I am sure Washtenaw county has a lot more than 50 miles of gravel rds to plow/maintain,as your posted link shows. But the trucks should last a lot longer than they are claiming, if they were properly maintained.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

Oldtimer, my link was talking about Sterns County Minnesota, near St. Cloud, nw of Minneapolis, now Washtenaw. The point was that they say their equipment has a much longer life than Washtenaw says theirs does.

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Infrastructure is thankless work: People will howl like demons when there are problems, but most take it completely for granted when it is good.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

I agree with you Ron. I tend to actually find it pretty amazing that we have such a comprehensive network of roads with generally adequate surfaces, functioning stoplights, that take you anywhere you want to go with relatively low traffic. Also, the road commission does a FINE job of clearing the snow. I never have any problems, other than the ignorant drivers who don't know how to react when the road quality changes.

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

I was just talking with an expert at another road commission, where they get a lot more snow than A2. He said 15 years ago, their truck replacement age was 5 years. 8 years ago, the replacement age became 10 years. Now? He says &quot;who knows!&quot; Maintenance is labor intensive and expensive. Good mechanics are expensive. There is some balance between how long you spend to keep your old trucks running vs. buying new. There are tradeoffs, and different approaches. Either way, it isn't easy. These are not over the road highway trucks. They have a tremendous number of hours per mile. They dispense salt. Etc. Maintaining a fleet like this requires long term thinking, as well as reactive tactics to get through major budget shortfalls. These trucks, and the roads they service, are both infrastructure. These days, we don't tend to do so well in regard to long term thinking or planning. And maintaining our infrastructure? Sheesh! These day so much is about cheap, half-measures, rather than the care it takes to make our infrastructure last. Throwing a coat of paint over the rust is cheap compared to blasting the rust off, filling the voids and painting it properly. The budget pressures are going to reduce the lifespan of the trucks. Many road commissions are doing massive layoffs in the summer, and then hiring back workers as temporary in the winter. When you treat employees that way, it shows you don't care about them. They typically won't care about the job, and their work ethic (quaint, I know!) suffers. The good mechanics and employees will go where they are more valued, where the work is more stable and they have a future. Also, you have political effects. You have appointees who may be out to make a name for themselves, and perhaps more focused on the short term rather than the long term. That short term thinking is death to our infrastructure and it drives up long term costs.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

A very thoughtful, realistic post, sir! Well done.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

Lost of potential candidates for Road Commission next election! Hope to see all of you expert's names on the ballot.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

Unfortunately they are appointed, not voted on.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

So, to me, this is the bottom line from the link I previously posted. I see no reason why Stearn's County Minnesota would want to make it seem like their equipment could last longer. So..... Stearn's County Minnesota's plow trucks expected life - 13 years Washtenaw County's - 5 years Stearn's County Minnesota's motor grader's life - 20 years Washtenaw County's - 6 years DOES NOT COMPUTE!!

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

Oh, by the way &quot;The Road Commission currently maintains approximately 1,649 miles of certified roads in the county road system; out of these total miles, 770 are gravel roads. &quot;

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

They say: Snow and Ice - Stearns County Fact Sheet Roadways There are 965 centerline miles of County roads that the Highway Department is responsible to maintain. Approximately 50 miles are gravel roads.&quot; Washtenaw say about 1600. But Washtenaw has twice as many trucks also.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

What are the comparisons for milage of roads in each county?

zip the cat

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

If they sold all those new chevy pickups all the foreman and big shooters drive around all day and to home and back and to the video store and god only knows where else for personel business,they could afford to up grade the ageing fleet. What this county needs is a Mr Bobb to come in and clean house cut all the perks and cut all the waste


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

"We need more funding for a sustainable fleet," Now what exactly does &quot;sustainable&quot; mean in the context of plow trucks? Are the trucks going to be biodegradeable or something like that? Or did he just want to slip in a buzzword that's currently popular?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

It means in the future city council will be spending 3 times as much on a newfangled &quot;hybrid&quot; snow plow that gets 5% better gas mileage but breaks down more often and is more expensive to maintain. Because, you know, they can boast at how green their fleet is.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Sure seems like quite a few repairs could be made without even getting close to 150k to replace the truck. Times are tough boys and girls and this is where you can tighten the belt. Enough of the extravagance.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

Ann Arbor has snowplows?! Seriously? Because I've never seen one single road plowed by the time I leave for work in the morning after any appreciable snowfall. Someone should double check and make sure the these so-called snowplows actually exist...


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:22 a.m.

This is NOT about A2! This is the Washtenaw COUNTY Road Commission responsible for County Roads. Not for A2, Ypsi, Saline Etc. I dont know what perturbs me more... arrogance or ignorance.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:34 p.m.

Thats because Ann Arbor treats plowing like a 9-5 job and doesn't seem want to pay for the roads to actually be clear for the morning commute. The city I grew up in on the other side of the state was the same way. Next city over took plowing seriously and would actually have the main streets clear before people left for work. Hitting the border between the two was like night and day for road conditions.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

Next time there's a snowfall, drive down Washtenaw, Packard, Stadium, Huron, Jackson, 7th, or any other major road in Ann Arbor between 7 am and 8:30 am. I guarantee not one of them will have been plowed.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

c'mon, man. That is just silly. The roads get plowed in an average length of time. A) they DO often wait until the brunt of the storm has passed before plowing. This is smart and saves you taxes. B) have you lived in other snowy places? Were they up here in the rust belt were tax dollars continue to dwindle?

Jimmy McNulty

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

I'm not concerned about the potential retirement of those 10 individuals. I have confidence that the new operators will adjust to the learning curve just fine. The plow truck miles do seem awfully low. Is it possible that 50K miles was the original depreciation period back in 2002-2003 when the county coffers were a bit more full? Is it possible that through maintenance and care that the trucks useful life has been extended, and they're really not in all that bad of shape?

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

According to this article from Minnesota re: plowing equipment, it seems that Washtenaw's equipment should have a quite bit more life left in them. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> "Equipment • The Highway Department has 26 dedicated plow trucks. The two oldest units are kept as spares in case of mechanical breakdown. • The expected life of a plow truck is about 13 years. Since there are 26 trucks, this requires the purchase of two trucks per year on average at a cost of about $160,000 each. • Plow trucks are equipped with underbody blades which are used to cut ice and reduce the amount of salt needed. • There are six motor graders for use in severe conditions or as additional backup units. • The expected life of our motor graders is about 20 years. With six units this requires the purchase of a new motor grader every three to four years. The cost of a motor grader is about $200,000."

average joe

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

That 3/4 million $ for a grader seemed high to me


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

this is the first of many things to come. the city and county will start saying we need more money. take away and you have less. yet the city can spend money on art 3/4 of a mil. i am sure the county does the same. roads bad, crosswalks bad. cars sliding. great time to be home. going to be a bad winter without services . not good.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

I'd have to agree with Craig, RS and AverageJoe. Only in a government department would a vehicle with 50,000 miles be at &quot;replacement&quot;. Geez. we don't need more money for these functions, just a dose of reality and better prioritizing. I'm sure there are more than a few people who would like a shot at the jobs created by retirees. In time, they will have enough experience to equal the job. Sounds like the Road Commission just trying to lower our expectations for the winter.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

This article is just laying the groundwork for another tax increase.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

On their website they were talking about this in mid-September.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

On their website they were talking about it in Mid- September.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

My kids see this article as potentially giving them more &quot;snow days&quot; off from school!

average joe

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

50,000 miles? Even though these are 'work' trucks versus 'highway' trucks, well maintained heavy trucks like these should be able to go 150-200,000 miles, or more. It would be interesting to hear from local private trucking companies that have a fleet of 'gravel trains' and find out what their average mileage is. Most that I see listed for sale have 500k or more. When they say &quot;the recommended replacement number is...&quot; , who is doing the recommending?

average joe

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

R Granger- I'm not confusing duties of trucks at all as noted in my post- But I guarantee that heavy duty construction type of trucks like gravel trains, cement trucks, etc. are subject to as much or more abuse than any county truck, &amp; have many more miles on them than 100,000. Clownfish- I have worked around heavy duty vehicles like these for many years, so yes I have an &quot;idea&quot;....


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Actually my father was a road commissioner for over 20 years in a county up north (Presque Isle county to be exact) and my grandfather was a county foreman in charge of plowing roads for over 30 years. They never retired equipment up there at 50,000 miles.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

The trucks may take quite a beating during routine operation, but that is why the various components that tend to fail are designed to be REPLACEABLE. I can guarantee you that the engines are just getting broken in at 100k miles - they are designed to last over 5 times that long or more. Sure, some drivetrain components, the suspension, plowing attachments, may all get destroyed relatively quickly from heavy duty use. But that does not make the truck chassis or engine obsolete. FIX THEM AND KEEP THEM RUNNING. THE CITIZENS OF WASHTENAW COUNTY SHOULD NOT NEED TO BUY YOU SHINY NEW TRUCKS EVERY OTHER YEAR! I smell a failed millage coming soon.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

These trucks take a big beating in that 50k! They are not a lexus tooling down M-14 at a a steady 85 mph. 50k may be too soon, but 100k is way overdue. If you have never worked around vehicles that get the kind of use these trucks do, you have zero idea what goes on and should probably refrain from armchair managing.

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

Sure are a lot of armchair experts here who are confusing constant speed highway cruising Over The Road trucks with plow trucks that dispense salt. Believe it or not, but this is a fairly mature industry. They have conferences, publications and studies like any other. Specifically, the subject of cost per mile, best practices for maintenance, etc, are popular topics. All road commissions are under tremendous pressure to reduce costs.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:18 p.m.

I agree with this. If the machine you are using can only support 50k worth of work, then they should get different trucks next time around. The people who were quoted about these machines being too old to do their jobs are daft.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

At 50,000 miles, these big commercial diesels are just getting broken in.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

I am curious about the 5 year / 50,000 mile replacement curve. Are these gas or diesel engines?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

as others have suggested these trucks are built as work horses to haul loads and pull or push loads. They are designed to do what they do. To suggest they aren't an over the road truck or car as justification for an unacceptably low life span is not a reasonable argument.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

Definitely big diesels. The engines are designed for 500+ thousand miles. Why would the chassis then need replacement at just 50k? A truly ridiculous statement. When I read the avg mileage was 97k I thought, great, then they are only half way through their lives, or less! Ron, counting hours over miles can be misleading, as they often idle for long periods of time. Engines don't care about idling, they do not wear out from light load operation. So the chassis should be able to handle its lifetime in terms of miles, not hours, regardless.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

This is not an over the road truck or an engine for your car. Plowing through snow and scraping the roads takes its toll on the engine. The recommended life span is 50k, but these trucks are north of 90k. That tells me the county has put things together in a piece meal way to keep them working. If you want to debate the life cycle of these trucks, YOU will be the one who needs to find EVIDENCE that says something different.

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

These trucks have a tremendous number of hours per mile.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

kind of what I was thinking too rs.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

It sounds like they are getting their numbers from the plow truck salesman. These big diesels have a lot more life in them than 50,000 miles.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 11:24 a.m.

Has anything changed since this article? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> .

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Ron, I meant the 10 employees that they expect to quit because of the State mandates. The article says: &quot;On Jan. 1, new state health care and pension mandates go into effect, so it's possible that up to 10 longtime Road Commission employees may choose to retire "which will leave a huge void in operations," officials said. They will have to be replaced by less experienced drivers who don't know the terrain as well as the experienced drivers.&quot;

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

@Marilyn: &quot;Also, I would assume that the older high seniority expensive employees would be replaced with less &quot;expensive&quot; employees.&quot; -- It may be that way in many corporations. Fortunately, there are still some people who believe in loyalty and not screwing people over for a quick buck. The very practice you espouse - that people who work the hardest, for the longest, should be laid off - is a large part of what is destroying our economy.

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

Tesla, my point is just what I said. Has anything changed. Are people still getting huge raises compared to the rest of the workforce? Also, I would assume that the older high seniority expensive employees would be replaced with less &quot;expensive&quot; employees.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

You link an article describing a raise 19 employees got....SIX YEARS AGO? Whats your point?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

Well done!

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 11:18 a.m.

I say replace the Road Commission. It's antiquated. We need a new system for taking care of our roads.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

I agree Telsa, lots of people post on here about how bad this agency or that commission should be replaced or complain about how something is run but don't give any constructive ideas on how to get something done better. My Uncle worked for the road commission for many years and he put in long hours during snow storms and I remember as a kid back in the 60's that people were complaining then how bad a job they did. Nothing changes, people are never satisfied.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

You have said that same thing about a lot of services, but you never give any input as to your alternatives. Why? Let me ask you. If you got rid of the road commision, how would YOU clear our streets Marilyn?

Tom Todd

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

This is the Warning! Roads will be bad! and if drivers don't slow down, they will end up in the ditch.