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Posted on Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

Roy Townsend named new managing director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission

By Lisa Allmendinger

Roy Townsend will take over the reins from Steve Puuri as the new managing director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission effective Dec. 28.

Puuri announced his retirement last month after 34 years of public service and 25 years at the Road Commission, first as the county highway engineer and then as its managing director.

Townsend is currently the county highway engineer and “has been an outstanding leader, while serving in various capacities for the Road Commission during the last 24 years,” according to information from the organization.

He is also the Director of Engineering and oversees all permit activities, traffic and safety concerns and the design and construction of numerous state and federally funded road and bridge projects.

“I’m looking forward to this opportunity,” Townsend said Thursday afternoon after his appointment. “And I’m excited about the opportunity to assume the position of managing director.”

Two internal candidates applied for the job: Dan Ackerman, finance director, and Townsend.


Roy Townsend

Lisa Allmendinger |

Road Commissioner Ken Schwartz said Townsend was the best choice for the position because of his “connection with the community. Mayors, supervisors, Department of Public Works, they all know Roy and like working with Roy,” Schwartz said. “On a day-to-day basis he will be able to work with the townships and our other customers. Roy has an excellent reputation,” Schwartz said.

Townsend has overseen a large number of road and bridge projects in his tenure and is well-known throughout the county.

“Roy has served in an instrumental role of fostering good customer service and solid relationships with our township and county officials, as well as our state and federal agency partners,” according to a media advisory from the Road Commission.

He was lauded by the road commissioners for his experience and “proven track record to lead our agency through these challenging financial times and Roy has the insight to assist the board in determining the long-term vision for the agency.”

His first task, Chairman Doug Fuller said, is to formulate a 2013 budget that does not dip into the Road Commission’s fund balance, something that’s been done for the last several years.

“We are continuing to spend into the fund balance,” Fuller said. “I continue to challenge staff to come up with a budget without that.”

Townsend has a master's degree in public administration from Eastern Michigan University and a bachelor's of science degree in civil engineering from Michigan State University. In 2008, he was named the State of Michigan's Urban Engineer of the Year and in addition, he won the state's Governor John B. Swainson Award for historic preservation for his work with the rehabilitation of the East Delhi Bridge in Scio Township.

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



Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.

Congratulations Roy. They have selected a good man for the job. Unfortunately, I can see from the posts that the jackels are already knipping at you. Its a tough, thankless job.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 2:25 a.m.

Hope Roy Townsend wont send a nasty email to you if you ask to help out after storms and allow good citizens that have the proper skills and training to clear trees off the road after storms while the road commission sits around and figures out what truck to take.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

Why don't we want to spend the money in the "Road Commission Fund"? Isn't the purpose of having a road fund to spend it on roads? Let's figure out why our roads are so bad when other states with the same weather and less money have much better roads.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Hopefully he'll have some common sense to road grading. We can ALWAYS tell when it's going to rain because they'll grade our road, It will rain & all is for naught.( turns to mush).


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 4:33 a.m.

Mr. Townsend is honest and conscientious. He will do a great job for citizens.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.

So, who is responsible for ensuring every single light turns red just as you approach it? Because that person is doing one helluva job, Brownie (to paraphrase GW Bush). Just think of how much more Ann Arbor drivers pollute than the average driver, because they spend so much more time stopped at all those red lights.

Leah Gunn

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 2:42 a.m.

The Washtnaw County Road Comission does not have projects in Ann Arbor - those are done by the city with its own weight and gas tax funds from the state. The WCRC covers only townships, not cities.

Daniel Soebbing

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

Beats living in a community with no traffic lights.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.

this is a no win job with money so short and so many projects to do.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 1:56 a.m.

Well said. Completely agree. After 34 years, I hope retirement was Mr. Purri's idea. I know that 2 County Commissioners and one Road Commissioner were after his butt. Given their reputations and behavior, Mr. Purri must have been a saint. Good luck to Mr. Townsend in the swamp of County politics.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

good. Puuri used to schedule road construction in one place and then they would start working on the alternate route you use to get around the first one.Then he would say "well you gotta take the funds when they give them to you."Well you shouldnt have applied for them at the same time.Maybe the new guy can plan a little better


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Hopefully customer service and satisfaction will be increased under Mr. Townsend. Last year there were many public complaints about the road commision taking an unnecessary long period amount of time to re- move snow from winter roads.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

Salary increase amount, please? Annual retirement amount for departing director?