You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Roadwise: Do you have road questions you'd like answered?

By Lisa Allmendinger

Readers frequently ask questions about county roads in response to stories we publish.

This is the first of a series of stories that answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

1. On snowplowing timelines. "Will it again be five days after a storm hits that our subdivision roads in York Township get plowed?”

“The Road Commission is responsible for winter maintenance on all county roads and state trunklines,” Jim Harmon, director of operations for the Road Commission said via email.

“Winter maintenance activities include applying salt and sand, as well as plowing snow on roadways and shoulders.

"During a typical year, the Road Commission will respond to approximately 50 winter maintenance call-outs, and will use about 15,000 to 25,000 tons of salt, and 5,000 to 10,000 tons of sand,” he said.

In 2010/2011, the Road Commission responded to winter maintenance on 53 occasions, used 18,178 tons of salt, and 5,817 tons of sand.

In addition, the Road Commission can easily spend up to $2 million annually for winter maintenance, depending upon weather conditions and the duration of the winter months. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) contracts with the Road Commission to provide winter maintenance services on the State Trunklines within the boundaries of Washtenaw County, which include: I-94, US-23, US-12 (Michigan Avenue), M-14, M-52, M-17 (Washtenaw Avenue), M-153 (Ford Road connected to M-14), Ecorse Road, and the Willow Run bypass.

“The costs for winter maintenance of the State Trunklines is entirely paid for by MDOT and can be as high as $1,000,000 per season, of the $2.8 million total budget,” Harmon said.

The Road Commission performs its winter maintenance in accordance with the Winter Maintenance Guidelines approved annually by the Board of County Road Commissioners, with the highest priority given to state trunklines and high traffic volume paved roads.

For more information about snowplowing on subdivision roads, go to this online brochure.

2. A reader asked about daytime work In Ypsilanti Township and if the work could have been done at night.

“The contracted project on Stoney Creek Road was developed and bid for daytime work. Although precise cost differences are unknown since bids were not solicited for night time work, we expect a 5 to 10 percent increase in total project costs," Harmon said via email at a time when road funding continues to dwindle.

3. On a story about lane restrictions on Pontiac Trail in Ann Arbor Township. Who is paying for this and why?"

“The recently completed milling and resurfacing of sections of Pontiac Trail located between M-14 and Nixon Road is part of the Road Commission’s annual primary road overlay program and was funded by the steadily decreasing Michigan Transportation Funds, “ Harmon said via email.

Do you have a thoughtful question you’d like the Road Commission to answer? Email them to

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



Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 5 a.m.

A "thoughtful" question and then a "pathetic" answer why do citizens put up with continued lack of ownership in givernment agencies like the road commission.


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

I wonder what the political issue is preventing the repair of the Stadium Bridge (over State Street). This bridge was old and falling apart when I moved here 30 years ago.


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

I live on a small farm not too far from AA, and although I don't like inconsiderate hunters firing guns near my house first thing on Sunday morning (happens a lot, I might add), or having buckshot falling on my barn (remember that pesky law about staying legal distance away from structures please!) this complaining about hunting deer is absurd. There are way too many of them, and hunting is a generally fairly humane way to reduce the numbers. Further, if you eat meat (unless grass fed and slaughtered in small local operations), or wear leather you are complicit in supporting a hugely inhumane and environmentally unsound meat industry. Those hunters are actually being kinder to animals than you are.


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

Please do fix the Stadium bridge over State St. What's taking them SO long to fix it? Also, when will the construction be done on E Huron street between Glen Ave and Fletcher St. They've had all summer to finish it. Now its fall. Its a pain to go through downtown Ann Arbor now days. Jackson/Huron Rd is awful as well. Very bumpy all the way to downtown.

Kara Marie

Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

Not a question, but please, please fix the Stadium bridge over State St. I am getting so sick of the bumps and the people cutting off at the last minute and nearly causing accidents. Thanks.

Dan Simonelli

Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

Why doesn't the City of Ann Arbor use more sensor stop lights? Early Sunday mornings I sometimes set at the light Northbound on State Rd at the I94 exit ramp with no traffic in sight. The use of sensor stop lights would not only save time but gas. Some car co's are now installing divices that would turn off an engine when the vehicle is stopped for a period of time thus saving gas.

Lisa Allmendinger

Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

Thank you, everyone, for the very thoughtful and interesting questions that have been emailed and added as comments to this story. I'm eager to get them answered for you, so stay tuned for another installment of 'Roadwise' in the next few weeks.


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

What are the funding sources for the Road Commission? What federal and state programs provide financial assistance to Road Commission operations.


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

How are members of the Road Commission compensated?


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

Great Article from the Propaganda Ministry. Thanks Comrade!


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

Cross Street from Washtenaw to Mansfield is in a terrible state and has been for over a decade. How much longer will travelers who use that important connector have to put up with the broken concrete and pathetic patches?


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 11:26 a.m.

What is the difference in annual maintenance costs between a gravel road and a paved road? Are there plans to flip some paved roads back to gravel for a time?


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 11:03 a.m.

Here's a question - where does the road commission get money to cut dead roadside trees? I was talking to a forester yesterday, about some dead trees in a ditch along a county road. She said I should just call the county and have *them* cut them down, since if they're in the road ROW, the county is supposed to take care of them. As I recall that discussion from last fall, the WCRC has had enough budget cuts that they're only cutting dead roadside trees as they have spare time, and that's now only a little more than when they come down in storms. They were encouraging people to have tree companies get a cheap license from the county and have them do the work. My friend said, "OK, so they want *you* to pay for it - are they planning to give you a break on your taxes?" As I remember it, WCRC is almost completely funded by ACT 51 weight and gas tax revenue. Do they get *any* money from property taxes? Doesn't seem to me that I pay them property taxes that they could reduce. Related question, if I want to remove some of those trees (adjacent property owner), what permits/insurance do I need to do it? Also, the WCRC permits page on their website is pretty old - are the fees still the same?


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

I wonder this same thing everyday driving to and from Ann Arbor on Whitmore Lake Road. There are so many dead trees hanging out over the roadway, I cringe everytime I go under one. Will it take another accident like we had a couple of years ago where a Mom of 5 or 6 from Stockbridge was killed when a dead tree came crashing down on her van during a thunderstorm, severly injuring her 11-year old in the back seat? These dead trees are truly a menace and someone else will be killed again if they are not taken down. Is it the property owners' responsibility or the County's? Seems like some of the various stimulus money could have been used for this purpose. Regardless, they are a hazard and dangerous.


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 10:41 a.m.

They are all canned responses.


Mon, Oct 10, 2011 : 10:26 a.m.

That first one isn't even an answer to the question. It's a canned response to anything about winter snow removal.