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Posted on Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:05 a.m.

Residents in Washtenaw County subdivisions will see snow removal cutbacks this winter

By Ryan J. Stanton


Washtenaw County Road Commission Managing Director Steve Puuri stands in front of a large stockpile of salt. The agency plans to go through 20,000 tons this winter, but with costs growing and funds shrinking, snow removal services in subdivisions will be cut back this winter.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Whenever a winter storm blankets the Boulder Ridge subdivision in Pittsfield Township with snow, Ryan Collins thinks of how good he had it back in Canada.

"I'm from Canada, so I'm used to the municipal departments cleaning up the roads on a regular basis," said Collins, who moved to Washtenaw County two years ago. "Moving down here has been quite a change. It's kind of disappointing to see that they don't clear the roads well. They definitely don't do a good job."

Rick Keller, who lives nearby at the end of Starwood Court, feels the same way.

"Maybe because we're in a cul-de-sac it's even worse, but we seem to be the last one to get plowed out," Keller said. "And on big snows, we can actually be stuck in here. I can't imagine it getting much worse, to tell you the truth."

But it's about to get worse.

Citing budget constraints, the Washtenaw County Road Commission is cutting back on snow removal services on local roads this winter. The agency has adopted a new policy that prohibits sending crews out on overtime to plow subdivision streets and gravel roads unless 4 or more inches of snow has fallen - or unless there is a severe ice storm or blowing and drifting conditions.

That means on nights and weekends, township residents in subdivisions better hope it doesn't snow.

Steve Puuri, the Road Commission's managing director, said the new 4-inch threshold is a change from the 3-inch threshold put in place by the agency about three years ago. The change brings the Road Commission's policy in line with the city of Ann Arbor's 4-inch threshold for sending crews out on overtime on local roads.

In Ann Arbor, officials say the policies remain unchanged, and residents can expect the same level of service as last year.


One of two new snow plow trucks purchased by the Washtenaw County Road Commission this year awaits its first run.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Puuri said the cutbacks are aimed at trimming overtime costs by $50,000. He said the roads impacted generally have the least traffic and have lower speed limits.

All other roads will continue to receive the same winter maintenance service levels, Puuri said.

"The public will see very little change on the major roads and freeway system," he said. "The freeways are going to be the high priority routes where we will be working overtime until the road is cleared. The secondary condition roads - and examples of that would be M-52 or Washtenaw Avenue - will get basically one pass of the road on overtime, and we would come back on the next standard work shift to finish the job."

The Road Commission has been preparing for the upcoming winter for weeks, repairing and setting up winter maintenance equipment and stockpiling salt, sand, and brine for the impending slippery road conditions.

Despite efforts to reduce overtime costs, Puuri said the agency still expects to pay more for winter maintenance this year than last year due to increasing prices for salt, fuel, equipment rental, and employee wages.

Agency leaders say salt prices are about 40 percent higher this winter. The Road Commission has already purchased 13,500 tons and plans to go through 20,000 tons before the season is over.


The Road Commission saw about a 40 percent increase in the price of salt this season. The agency now expects to spend about $1 million on salt before the winter is over.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Puuri said the Road Commission has paid between $47 and $54 per ton for salt this year.

"It's a tremendous amount of money that gets poured out the tailgates," he said. "You're talking a million dollars."

Ann Arbor officials said the price of salt purchased by the city jumped from about $43 a ton to $55 a ton this year. The city has commitments for 12,000 tons right now.

City Administrator Roger Fraser said you won't find him singing "Let It Snow" this holiday season, but when those white flakes do touch down, city crews will be prepared. He said Ann Arbor residents won't see decreases in snow removal services this winter in the city limits.

"It's probably the most critical street service we provide to the community, and we're going to do what we can to keep the streets cleared in an emergency," he said. "And we consider snowfall an emergency."

Puuri said the Road Commission has a fleet of 46 snow plow trucks - including two new ones - that can carry salt and 11 graders used in deep snow conditions. It also has a handful of 1-ton dump trucks to help plow subdivisions.

Full-time road crews are on duty from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, while a smaller night patrol shift runs from 8 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. In serious snow storms, Puuri said drivers will work 16-hour days, sometimes for days on end.

"We have enough drivers, if we call all hands on deck, to get out there and work on the conditions," Puuri said.

The Road Commission maintains 1,647 centerline miles of county roads and is contracted by the state to maintain another 581 lane miles of state highways.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Dec 3, 2009 : 12:04 p.m.

Suggestion why don't they make some people work a day shift and some work a night shift. Say you have 10 people working for you that is 400 hours in a week (one week has 168 hours) you could have almost triple coverage during bad weather. Just a suggestion - why not try this???


Wed, Dec 2, 2009 : 8:07 a.m.

It amuses me to no end to think that they won;t be plowing my road. I mean becasue they did such a timely and top notch job last year. I almost wish there were a way for a neighborhood to get a piece of the budget for gas so that the residents with snowthrowers could just do their road and bypass the road crews altogether.


Tue, Dec 1, 2009 : 7:45 a.m.

I live in the Hickory Pointe Sub, and snow removal has been horrible for years. When we get a bad snow, we have gone many days without seeing a snow plow. I give the Washtenaw County Road Commission a grade of F-. When we get 3,4,5 inches, we still do not see the Snow Plows for 2-3 days.


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 10:53 p.m.

To 'David Fitzpatrick' I don't believe I complained about anything. I simply made a point (that this will be a hot political issue), one which you clearly disagree with and chose to respond to with personal attacks. People are wired differently, and I accept you just the way you are.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 3:31 p.m.

re: Road Commissioner who lives in the City of Ypsilanti. Why is this a problem? The last time I checked, the City of Ypsilanti is still a part of Washtenaw County.


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 1:07 p.m.

Mr. Pepple, I have left a voice mail for you. Please call me back. thank you. (and I am 100% aware that you will censor and delete this, but I think you will read it first.) Oh and if I am "banned" from your precious site, please email me at to let me know this. Thank you.


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 1:06 p.m.

Right, wrong or indifferent, the statement about the differences witnessed in canada with its "socialist" style system speaks volumes. For example, changing the garbage collections dates to once every two weeks to save money is really only a minor inconvenience for most of us. But when you try to save money by comprising public satefy, regardless of the level of risk, it is completely unaccceptable. Failing to properly clear snow from the roads poses a safety risk, this is not just a minor inconvenience. I am all for reducing unnecessary costs to save money where possible, but not when it risks the safety of tax paying citizens.........I say keep the snow cleared like they do in Canada. Taxes are paid for a reason up there. To maintain a certain degree of infrastructure and safety, why should it be any different in Ann Arbor/Pittsfield??? Why would we settle for less then the safety our citizens??

Thick Candy Shell

Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 11:05 a.m.

Funding for the WCRC is due to the gas tax, $0.19 per gallon which hasn't changed since 1997. Revenues are falling. This is an MDOT presentation about the funding shortfalls. For those who live in Ann Arbor, don't forget that 5% of the revenue is taken straight off the top for Alternative Transportation. You have a choice, bike lanes or plowing.


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 10:57 a.m.

Varmentrout: Thank you for these insights. It sounds like at least some county commissioners realize there is an inherent problem with the current make-up of the road commission board and tried to take steps to change it. Kudos to them. Un-kudos to the others who apparently think things are fine as is. What I find most odd and of concern, is how a road commissioner can live as a resident of the City of Ypsilanti and still serve as a "county" road commissioner? Don't cities have their own road boards and the county road comm. manages all non-city roads? If so, why would the county appoint someone like this Veigel fellow who doesn't even live on roads serviced by the road commission? I would like to see someone more objective in that position who has a vested interest in the system. Given what you noted about him, he sounds anything but objective. Question for Kristin Judge: are you going to reappoint this Veigel fellow next year or seek to replace some questionable road board members?


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 10:30 a.m.

I have lived in an Ypsi Twp sub for the past 8 years. This is not going to be a change at all for us (at least in our sub) as it usually takes them 2-3 days to get to us anyways. It's understandable as the main roads need to be taken care of first as a priority. We all live in Michigan and thus should know how to drive in the snow, LOL. Gotta pull in the purse strings in these tough times. J-

Steve Pepple

Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 10:25 a.m.

A comment was unpublished because it contained a personal attack against another commenter.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 10:19 a.m.

I was in error in my previous comment. Votes for the Road Commission appointments would occur in even years, so the next one will be in 2010. In searching the county website, I find that the BOC entertained a motion to expand the WCRC from 3 to 5 commissioners on September 5, 2007. As the cover memorandum states, "The purpose behind expanding the road commission is to permit representation of more varied and diverse county interests on this important Commission. By expanding to five members, two additional individuals representing additional interests and areas of the County would be added to the Road Commission." This resolution was in response to a state law change in 2006 which enabled counties to expand from 3 to 5 road commissioners. Currently, two of the three road commissioners are from Eastern Washtenaw County (one from Superior Township and one from the city of Ypsilanti). Fred Veigel of Ypsilanti has been on the board since 1991 and there have been a number of attempts to dislodge him, but they have been unsuccessful. His position as the chair of the Huron Valley Labor Council has meant that he has been able to distribute endorsements and campaign contributions. A vote to expand representation would presumably allow commissioners from other parts of the county to be appointed and would dilute the influence of the Eastern Washtenaw commissioners. The September 5, 2007 motion failed, with all commissioners from Eastern Washtenaw voting against it, joined by Cmrs. Ouimet and Ping Mills. Voting for it were 3 Ann Arbor commissioners (Cmr. Smith was absent) and Cmr. Grewal (Pittsfield).


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 9:41 a.m.

Commissioner Judge: First thank you for stepping out into the light about a subject that in my 65 years in this County has been quite dark and guarded...that is the WCRC. Reviewing the budget displayed on their website(thank you for pointing us there)leaves me more curious than ever. Many line items (by number) have been rolled up into a mass entry, preventing analysis. Is it possible for you to obtain the following? 1. How many non-union employees are there and what is their line item total wage? 2. How many union employees and what is their line item total wage? 3. What was spent last year on conference travel by admins? 4. What is paid into the retirement system for both non-union and union employees? 5. What percentage raise have administrators received over the past 5 years? I seem to recall a year or so ago a 25% increase given to some of them due to an alleged "salary survey" by the HR dept. Due to the dire condition of county roads, and the threat to not maintain side roads, is this increase still in place? Finally, how would taxpayers change the current system to vote and have the WCRC elected and not appointed? There might be more accountability if they answered to taxpayers. Any information that you can provide for taxpayers of Washtenaw County is appreciated! Thanks so much. I am hoping you can get this information without having to pay for it going through's hoping anyhow. Again thanks for being open with us.

The Grinch

Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 9:06 a.m.

11goblue11: That a silly question and, one guesses, it is one that you think is some sort of rhetorical trap. Without knowing where you live and without having the city/township, school district, library district, and county budgets in front of me for both your residence and for your former residence in the Ann Arbor area, I cannot begin to answer the question. A good guess is that Ann Arbor has many expenses your (I guessing much smaller) community does not have (e.g., a homeless shelter; thousands of acres of parkland; hundreds of miles of streets that need to be plowed), and that the Ann Arbor Public School System offers programs that your school district does not offer (e.g., on of the best music programs in the nation). Yes, much that my tax dollars do here in Ann Arbor is "optional". For example, the programs run by the AADL are expensive, as are the programs cited above as well as many others. But let's be clear about this: these things are value added to my property because these things make like in this community very desirable. People want to live in Ann Arbor due to the fact that it has an outstanding school system, due to its parks and its trees, due to the atmosphere of the town. Property values in Ann Arbor and in the surrounding townships, though having dropped some as they have around the state, remain quite high. That is due, in part, to the services bought with my tax dollars. But what I know is this: you, apparently, value most low taxes. Fine. But quit complaining when government, starved of revenue, cuts funding to programs that you value or think important.


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 8:56 a.m.

Yes, raise taxes on gasoline to pay for gasoline/driving related items, such as snow plowing. This puts the cost on the people who drive on the roads most frequently.

Kristin Judge

Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 8:31 a.m.

St.Julian, The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners is an 11 member board. We are up for re-election every two years. I have been on the board for one year. During this year, we have not voted on any appointments to the Road Commission. The Washtenaw County Road Commission is a three member board. They are appointed by the County Board of Commissioners to six-year terms. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners has no input on the Road Commissions budget or priorities. The questions about the salt prices can be directed to the Road Commission. Here are our websites for more information on each board: (County Board of Commmissioners) (Washtenaw County Road Commission) In my monthly enewsletter, I shared with residents information on the Road Commission's survey of residents. They were asking for input on service reductions a couple months ago. If you are interested in receiving my enewsletter about county issues, just send me an email at As far as saving money by turning in my cell phone, I have also worked with the IT department to tighten up the current cell phone policy. The result should be thousands of dollars in immediate, long-term savings to the county taxpayers. I have also been active in reducing the budget for the Commissioners and Administration before asking any employees to share in the burden of cost reductions. As far as the Human Services funding for non-profit groups who feed and shelter our most vulnerable citizens in the county, those are not pet projects. Those are humane acts. Unfortunately, I do not think the money will be there for the county to give to those non-profits in two years. We have mandated services we need to pay for with a shrinking budget while the needs of citizens are growing. I am looking to see how every dollar of your tax money is being spent, and I intend to continue to find savings and ways of creating a more efficient county government. If anyone would like to speak to me directly, please do not hesitate to contact me. Kristin Judge, 734-646-2088 (my personal cell phone)


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 5:45 a.m.

I don't mind this action at all. We use too much salt and spend too much on plowing anyway. Further, if you know how to drive in the snow AND maintained your car properly, driving in 4 inches of snow is not a big deal at all. Especially in one of those little green cars. Ice is an issue - save the salt for ice. Plows for 6 inches or more. I suggest that those of us who live in Michigan learn how to drive in the snow that comes every year. Its not hard, it does require developing some driving skill. Our little green car, 3 yrs old, has done incredibly well in the snow. Better than the our neighbor in their SUV for sure. Thank you county - our environment will be better for this decision.


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 2:26 a.m.

tdw: There's nothing adverse environment-wise regrading the asphalt/rubber tire mix. It's being used with great success in Arizona, for instance. The primary concern is that of initial cost. The added expense of processing the tires gives road commissions pause when trying to get them to use the technology. Arizona got a nice break when they got Ford to donate millions of tires and pay for the processing. The main benefit of this type of surface at this point is that they are quieter. Since the technology is fairly new, I'm sure many shy away from it. A more environmentally friendly approach would be to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads, thus reducing the wear and tear. The most effective ways of doing this include better mass transit and making urban areas more attractive to habitation so people will not need to drive as far. Oh, and $6/gal. gasoline, too! We do have choices.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 10:47 p.m.

To 'David Fitzpatrick' Please explain my tax difference from SW Mich to SE Mich. I'm all for a sales tax hike to 8%+ to cover schools (first), and whatever else after... You explantion just highlights inefficiency in government.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 10:34 p.m.

People complaining about not plowing gravel roads.. you all made a poor life choice to live in the country where everything is so far away and you're dependent on a car to get around. If anyone here is moving I have advice: don't move to a home on a gravel road!! At the very least move close to work and walk to work.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 10:10 p.m.

Wait! you mean Commisioner Judge turning in her cell phone didn't solve all of the county's money problems? Our commisioners take taxpayer dollars and take back money from its own employees so that they can donate to their pet non-profit groups. Meanwhile we will be driving on dangerous roads this winter because our county doesn't have enough to pay for safe roads and for commisioners to be the heroes to their favorite charities.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:29 p.m.

to Kirstin Judge, the ocunty ocmmissioners did not make the decsion to reduce servece. But, the County commissioners set priorities and funding for departs such as the road commission. In addtion, the commissioners appoint the road ocmmission. So to say it's not your responsibility is nonsense. The current Road commssioners must deal with the budget they are given. You can change it. So change it.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:15 p.m.

Phillip farber Corect me if I'm wrong but don't european countries add things like shreaded rubber ( which I think is a great idea ) in their road building materials that we can't because of enviromental ( nut jobs ) reasons?


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:55 p.m.

former resident: where do you live now?


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:30 p.m.

To Wings19 - You're sitting pretty, but if we follow your 'logic' let's not plow at all. Because *you'll* still get through... The frustration here is changing the rules in mid-stride. If Michigan "always" has poor snow plowing from now on, great, be so apprised. But Michigan roads have been plowed regularly for many many years. This *is* a tax, though - more cost in the insurance to pay for accidents in the snow.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 7:23 p.m.

TO ALL YOU SO-CALLED GREEN FOLK: When you get stuck due to your inability to drive your little fuel efficient cars in snow, please don't lecture me on the environmental effects of my big 4WD Pickup truck as I pull you out of the snow, I only drive it about 3500 miles per year.Secondly, if you are such a poor driver that you can't negotiate a snowy road, perhaps you should put down your cell phone, trade in your 4000lb SUV, and learn how to drive. Or pick up a shovel, and get yourself out of the jam you got yourself into.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 7 p.m.

But if they appoint the Road Commission, as posters have written, then they are responsible for their actions. I really think that a lot of these Northern jurisdictions should try to get stimulus money. It really increases morbidity, mortality, and decreases productivity to have unplowed and unsafe roads. Even so, there could be neon signs warning of bad traffic conditions that are posted when there is a lot of ice that is hard to see. Maybe that Dexter man who died the other day would be alive if there had been more creative solutions to traffic and deicing. Have the nonviolent prison population work on deicing crews. Granholm is letting them out, anyway, so maybe they can earn some years of early freedom.

Phillip Farber

Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 6:53 p.m.

The lack of winter road maintenance is just a taste of what's coming down the pike. This is exactly what we should expect of a transportation system based entirely on the personal automobile in a time of falling financial resources. Our system is the most expensive and inefficient (and dangerous) way to move people from A to B.. Exacerbating the problem is our unwillingness to pay for the services and infrastructure required to keep it all running well. Instead we rail about cutting executive salaries and eliminating waste as though that will produce the huge sums we need to maintain service levels.. As @Ignatz points out, we build roads on the cheap. European countries spend significantly more to construct and maintain their roads than the U.S. I can attest from personal experience that their road surfaces are virtually _perfect_ and this is in countries like Switzerland where, yes, they have winter weather. You get what you pay for.. We can expect to see summer road conditions continue to deteriorate as well. We just do not have the financial resources to achieve an adequate level of service. We've all seen the report cards on closed bridges (and even bridges collapsing) due to lack of proper maintenance.. I do not expect this picture to improve. My advice to those who can afford it is to move as close to your job and shopping as possible preferably to an area that offers public transportation services and walkability. Let's not forget that $6 a gallon for gas is in the near future. Does anyone believe that we'll pay $2.50 a gallon forever?

The Grinch

Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 6:46 p.m.

Sigh. The ignorance here is overwhelming. Before you post, please read the entire string so that you might learn something. In this case, the county road commission's budget IS NOT controlled by the county commission. They are two separate bodies with two separate sources of funding. Sigh.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 5:55 p.m.

This will be a HOT ONE for the country commissioners! I probably wouldn't have picked this fight with the taxpayers if I were them. With intentional ignorance, they will say there's no money - but a quick budget review will show allocations (far exceding $50 grand) to matters for non-taxpayers. Again, I wouldn't have picked this fight if I were them, but it should provide us with some good drama as we blog about it on our 'snow days.' As far as taxes, I've lived in the same value house in three different places and the following are the approximately annual property taxes: --Florida $2800 (Keep in mind Fl makes big bucks off sales taxes due to tourism) --SW Michigan $4200 --Ann Arbor $8000


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 5:49 p.m.

Glad I live in Dexter!


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 4:16 p.m.

The problem is the amount of snow. If there are 4-6 inches on the ground, then my smaller car just isn't high enough or heavy enough to get through it. The SUV sails through it. Same with ice, even with snow tires, it just slides when there is pure untreated ice. It did not used to be this way in Michigan. I remember my parents getting through with rear wheel drive cars after storms because more attention was paid to plowing. People in Michigan did get to use studded snow tires a long long time ago, those were good, but I think they aren't legal anymore??? Cars were heavier, also. Sometimes no matter how careful you are, ice still will cause accidents.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 4:11 p.m.

To be honest, my only issue is that we get in trouble for plowing the road ourselves, but the county probably won't plow it either. Pick one. Either you plow it, or we plow it. We need to get to work/school too.

John Galt

Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 3:52 p.m.

How are those little "Green" cars looking now?


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 3:21 p.m.

I have a good solution People should stop driving like idiots and pay attention to road conditions and adjust the way they drive.and maybe leave earlier


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 2:46 p.m.

Again, If the County Commissioners APPOINT the Wash County Road Commissioners.... What are the qualifications to be on this board? Who is currently on the board? Who sets the budget and negotiates contracts for the WCRC? Are we looking at other processes for melting the snow and ice? From today's Freep regarding Macomb and Oakland Counties: One method both counties are using this winter is pre-wet rock salt. Wet salt adheres to roadways better than dry salt and begins melting snow and slush faster. Plus, 400 pounds of wet salt is about as effective as 500 pounds of dry salt. To accomplish the savings, the Road Commission of Macomb County said it bought three additional Epokes, devices that attach to trucks and let drivers apply salt in three forms: brine, pre-wet or dry. Brine -- salty water -- is applied ahead of snowfall to slow accumulation. The commission paid $82,000 apiece for the Epokes and now has eight, said spokesman Jim Tittsworth. The devices can reduce salt use up to 30%. Reducing salt use even 10% a year can save about $275,000. "Over time, they pay for themselves," Tittsworth said of the Epokes. And that's a good thing, because Tittsworth said the Macomb road commission paid 35% to 66% more this year than last year on two contracts for 63,000 tons of salt. The prices for this season jumped to $44.95 per ton for one contract and $55.06 a ton for another. Salt was $33.19 a ton last winter.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 2:24 p.m.

I thought since the Co Commissioner wrote in these comments, she had an interest in this topic. She certainly has more input than any of us do, unless you are on the road commission. She, at least, has direct access to them. Maybe she can find out why they are paying 40% more for salt this year. Is there a salt shortage? Will it be scarcer next year? Did the salt-miners just get a 40% raise (doubtful)Did the CEOs of the salt companies decide to take multi-million dollar bonuses? Seriously, is there stimulus money available for this? It is supposed to go in part for highway projects, and to sustain jobs. They could hire more workers and avoid OT.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 2:22 p.m.

easy solution: legalize chains, and enforce that they are being used appropriately. 3 years ago I would have thought this was crazy advice intended only for back-country folks, but having moved to Seattle (where the complaining and whining is second only to Ann Arbor), it's now obvious to me how easy a solution this is.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 2:18 p.m.

In answer to the question, the Washtenaw County Road Commission consists of three appointed commissioners. They receive a stipend for this work but it is not a full-time job. Their terms are six years long and one of them comes up to the BOC for reappointment or replacement every two years (I assume that one of these appointments was just made in the November appointment schedule.) Apart from their appointment by the BOC, they are completely separate from the county commissioners in every way. Their budget is completely separate from the BOC, whose local revenue is from property taxes and fees. The BOC has no power whatsoever over the WCRC except for the power of appointment. Since three county commission terms pass before an individual road commissioner is up for reappointment, this is not a useful tool for affecting policy. The WCRC money comes from the gasoline tax and other state transportation funds. This revenue has been dropping drastically over the past few years. MDOT is funded by the same revenue stream and is running out of money to match Federal construction grants. Pam Byrnes, who used to be on the WCRC and has also chaired a transportation committee in the state house, predicted the other day at a town hall forum that local road commissions will be hoarding their money and will cut back on local maintenance because they will be holding money for use in matching grants for new construction. I don't know whether this is the case here.

The Grinch

Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 2:15 p.m.

AnnArbor28: please read the commissioner's post: the County Commission has no control over the Road Commission or its budget. It is a separate entity from the County Commission.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 2:11 p.m.

that's a good point, per the number of accidents. Plus it is expensive to use all of those emergency vehicles for all of those accidents. Besides which the loss of life and injuries are horrible. Can the County Commissioner who posted please tell me why the price of salt went up so much during this economy, and why several counties or the state could not have banded together to get a lower price? Did salt from all sources go up? Was there price-fixing between salt companies, which is illegal? These County officials seem so naive about business. Maybe that's why they pay 40% more for salt. Nothing should go up that much in this economy, especially. What do their accountants and attorneys say about this???


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 1:41 p.m.

After all the spinouts and accidents on friday You have to wonder if the county would still consider it cheaper not to salt or plow if residents started to sue the county when they were in an accident due to the poor road maintenance


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 1:19 p.m.

sorry @mrk but it is "Washtenaw County Road Commission" not the state MDOT. The County has a contract with the State to "maintain another 581 lane miles of state highways" in the County.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 1:06 p.m.

I work odd hours in health care, so that is why I got the SUV. I much prefer my older, smaller car, but it really cannot be driven on these roads now. The snow removal is horrendous, except for very main roads, and that may change now for the worse. I do not understand why the price of salt went up. As to overtime, I would somehow get these wages down from the workers during this economy. My taxes consume a huge part of my paycheck, and I really resent that it goes for so many frivolous programs, instead of safety. I work with welfare and SS disability recipients, and fraud is rampant. Let them trim the budget on that stuff.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 1:02 p.m.

The Road Commission is a division of MDOT, not of the County government. People just don't seem to know that.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 12:46 p.m.

Well, so much for replacing our Jeep with a Prius. Long live SUVs! How about we cut the $800,000 substance abuse budget since recidivism is rampant anyway? What would other people cut?


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 12:09 p.m.

So WashCo is going to reduce their plowing efforts due to budget constraints. I always thought that the County did better and more timely plowing than the City of A2. And WashCo has a lot more roads than A2 city. Now they'll get the same service that A2 residents came to believe was normal. What was the City of Ann Arbor's excuse all these years?


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 11:36 a.m.

I do not attribute the problem to a political party....I do however, think that we need a strong County Executive position...looking out for the best for the entire county and not their own little we see with the county board running haphazard trying to make deals for their own "special interests" of the county. I see that Macomb county got smart and changed their county administration.How about it Washtenaw? Isn't it time to stop pulling rural vs urban, white vs black, poor vs rich, etc? We truly need to aim for ONE Washtenaw, not the segmented special interest county board we have now. However as the road group is governed by a different board, Ann, could you tell us who is on the Washtenaw County Road Commission and how those people are appointed to their positions, please? I would be interested to know what skill sets they bring to their positions and how they are named. Little is said about this commission. Thanks.

Kristin Judge

Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 11:26 a.m.

Your Washtenaw County Commissioners do not make these decisions. The Road Commission is a separate entity. As a County Commissioner, I did go to the Road Commission to voice my objection to increasing the limit to 4" before using overtime. I had calls from residents last year who were stuck in their homes and could not get to work (some people work on weekends) because of the snow on their street. This is a safety issue, and I am concerned for the residents if there are large snow falls on Fridays again like last year. That said, budgets are tight. All services will be going down in the future as tax revenues go down from falling property values. It is important that all elected officials find each dollar they can in our budgets that could be going to services. I am going over each line in the county budget to be sure your tax dollars are being spent in the most responsible manner possible. I am criticized as being a micromanager, but the county budget is the responsibility of the County Board of Commissioners. I take that responsibility seriously, and I will do all I can to spend your money wisely. Kristin Judge, Washtenaw County Commissioner Residents can call or email me with questions at 734-646-2088 or


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 11:22 a.m.

Y'all pay an incredible amount of tax in Michigan. Much of it goes to welfare, unemployment and other benefits. First to be cut are services for people who actually work and pay taxes. In this kind of climate, if you want to actually keep taxpayers here who actually have a choice as to where to live in the US, you have to provide services to make the roads passable and safe. This is so that taxpayers can get to work, and future taxpayers can get to school, part-time jobs in HS, sports, etc. I lived in a more southern climate for years, and this was not so much of an issue. Should I move again and take thousand dollars of taxes I pay elsewhere? Looks like I will, and won't have to put up with snow and the associated poor services. I pay a lot of money each year for snow removal, but it often is extremely difficult to get to my street in Burns Park after work, and get out the next day. I had to get an SUV, which I never wanted, just to get home at night and out the next day. I have a 3 year SUV lease, and hope to move elsewhere after that lease is up. Then I can go back to my older, fuel-efficient car and get the heck out of Michigan again! And also, there is no good public transportation, such as a subway, to where I work in Michigan, or elsewhere, except Amtrak to get out of here.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 11:20 a.m.

I suppose I would also be complaining if I were trying to navigate a Prius through 8 inches of snow.......


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 11:09 a.m.

Lets all hope we don't get much snow this winter!!

The Grinch

Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 11:06 a.m.

Well said, Ignatz!!!


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 11:04 a.m.

We Americans are a funny lot. We are among the least taxed people of the industrialized nations, yet we expect perfection from our government workers. We want Harrod's service at Walmart prices. Somehow it doesn't work out. Has anyone ever driven the Autobahn? Unlimited speeds almost any time of the year. They pay for that type of road with their taxes. If there's a crack in the road, they dig up a section and replace the whole thing. The roadbed is about twice as deep as ours. They get what they pay for and so do we.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:41 a.m.

Nicely said, queenmom...and who is your Western Washtenaw County Commissioner. You know the guy; he lives so close to the City of Ann Arbor, I'm surprised he get re-elected. Maybe if he would drive our country roads more often...


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:30 a.m.

Equating plowing gravel roads with subdivisions is ridiculous. In western Washtenaw County, a gravel road does not mean a road with few people or little traffic. Gravel roads can be major roads - Trinkle, Lima Center, Fletcher, Wylie to name a few - that schools are located on, are utilized by many school buses, and are roads commuters use to get to 94. As someone who commutes at 6am through Washtenaw County into Livingston County, I can say unequivocally that our roads are both horribly maintained and plowed. I see this as yet another example of how western Washtenaw County gets next to nothing for our county tax dollars.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:29 a.m.

Apparently GoBUEbeat OSU cannot SPELL or read. I did not say it was more important. I said to ignore gravel roads is costly and neglectful. I believe that their current policies are not only dangerous they have to cost more money in the end. It seems logical to me that routine maintenance of a road has to be cheaper that major repairs.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:16 a.m.

I moved back here after several years, and do not know enough about A2 now to figure out how the City Council and the developers have priorities that are so upside down vis a vis services for citizens. I remember that the Senior Center, in my area, with a low budget, was going to close, and they are spending millions on an unnecessary new City building and sculpture. Why are the liberal (and conservative) citizens so oblivious as to let this happen to our tax dollars? What action groups are there to join, that are anti-developer and pro-citizen?


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:08 a.m.

Vote for the politician that puts more money in your wallet and use the money to fight for your issues; don't just sit back and complain. Darn right, U of M will plow their streets; they have the money to do it. When you constantly vote down additional witholdings on your paycheck that should be going to your government, expect cutbacks. It's not a conspiracy; every large corporation has high paid managers, even the government; it's called the free market. Everyone wants a raise, even the snow plow drivers and garbage men. If you expect to maintain service year after year, then expect to pay a little more year after year. What do you think about a city that pays its administrator $150,000 and about 10-others over $100,000.00 a year, builds a $30 million maintenance facility, a $30 million city hall remodel, then cuts back on common municipal services?


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 9:03 a.m.

Well there it is folks...ditchdriver has made his/her is much more important to plow Textile between State and Michigan Ave than any other road in the county. Just like last year I suspect we'll see this stretch of Textile plowed before all others. Sorry Boulder Ridge. According to ditchdriver your roads aren't as important as the gravel section of Textile. So you are going to have to wait.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:52 a.m.

Why is the price of salt up during this economy? Whose pockets are being lined? Where's the stimulus money? The county needs to write President Obama for plowing, salt and overtime money, as he promised we would all have better services, and change to believe in. I believe in safe, cleared, salted roads, doesn't he? This a safety issue, they need to plow and salt more. I had $2000 worth of damage to my car sliding down a street into a curb, 2 days after a snow storm. I was going 5-10 miles an hour, turning a corner. Where does the money go around here? The City of Ann Arbor spends on unnecessary buildings and sculptures, and parking lots, and we get to slide around in dangerous icy roads.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:35 a.m.

I'm not seeing much of a difference. In my subdivision, it was usually closer to 6 inches and could take three days before we'd get plowed out. Makes turning left on to Packard an EXTREME challenge let me tell you... but that's part of township living. An, I have yet to see the city streets around the U get plowed in a timely manner. I joke around that it seems that the city is trying to kill the students and faculty. I had a coworker who watched the city plow out an elementary school parking lot, on a snow day, and when she got to campus, she found most of our roads hadn't been cleared. Usually, turning on to South U is the most dangerous part of my commute in snowy weather, and not because students are wandering in to traffic as usual.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:32 a.m.

I am very interested in the budget for the WCRC and WHERE the dollars are spent....not a doctored-up version but the real LINE ITEM. Have the union contracts been renegotiated? (including benefits- including fat retirements?) Have management taken cuts? Have administrators taken cuts? Have travel and conference funds been cut? I want to see WHERE the cuts have been made BEFORE they decided to cut the only service that they truly provide...maintaining the WC roads. And if they are planning on cutting the services that they provide, what are they cutting that previously PROVIDED the, human resources? If providing less service, it takes less people, not just less salt. It's time to run like a business....look at HR expenses at all levels.

The Grinch

Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:29 a.m.

Funny how people who want their taxes cut, cut, and cut (DagnyJ) are the first to complain when they have to suffer the consequences of their wishes. How predictable!


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:18 a.m.

GobueBeatUSU The neglect of rural gravel roads DOES make a difference. When the snow is not removed it has nowhere to go when it thaws so it sits there and just completely tears up the roads. The last 2 springs on gravel roads in Lodi Township have been AWFUL. The lack of maintenance on the gravel roads is shameful. I know there's a budget, and I know it costs money..........but it seems like a little maintenance before the roads get completely crappy would cost less than trying to repair the big damage due to what amounts to neglect. All I know is the gravel roads in Lodi the majority of the time are BAD. Even after they grade them! Its all cosmetic! Some of the same potholes have been there for years. Our family has even named a few of them.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:15 a.m.

Where are my tax dollars going? I bet anything near U of M will be plowed. From what I have been told (I live in a small neighborhood, with dirt roads, and we are often plowed out very late), we are not allowed to let our neighbor with a plow on his truck go down our road with his plow, but then the city won't bother with us either? HELLO?


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 8:06 a.m.

This is not right. There was money for SPARK, and money for other projects that aren't as important as roads. Time for new county commissioners.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 7:37 a.m.

You have got to be kidding me. As another resident of Boulder Ridge, I can also attest to the fact that we often get stuck in our homes on heavy snow days, with streets too covered to leave. It takes us well more than 24 hours to get plowed during heavy snowfalls. (And I don't even live in a cul de sac like Mr. Keller!) Trying to leave to get to work can be treacherous. I cannot even imagine how bad this is going to be. Maybe if everyone shoveled the road directly in front of their house....


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 7:04 a.m.

wait...are you saying the County cleared the roads in the past??...are you sure??...which road?...oh that's right..I remember last year the county plowed the gravel portion of Textile. I don't think not plowing a gravel road is going to make much difference.


Sun, Nov 29, 2009 : 7:01 a.m.

you got to be kidding methis is MI we get SNOW so driving will be treacherous this season again on Washtenaw RDs i'm sorry but i dont own a SUV I here is another thought plow the frickin Roads when the snow flies people still need to get to the store.