Washtenaw County Road Commission to replace 4 snowplows, hire 8 workers
The new heavy trucks will hit county roads next winter, said Roy Townsend, managing director for the road commission.
The road commission approved the purchase of the trucks at a recent meeting.
Daniel J. Brenner | AnnArbor.com
The new snowplows will be assigned to the crew that clears the major state-owned roads in Washtenaw County. Trucks on those routes tend to run for 16 hours in a row during heavy winter storm events, as they’re in use by both night and day shifts, Townsend said.
Older snowplows in use on the state route crew will be transitioned to other crews within the road commission, allowing the oldest heavy trucks in the commission’s fleet to be decommissioned.
The new heavy trucks will be equipped with new technology, Townsend said. The trucks will have wing plows that will allow drivers to plow both the main lane and shoulder at the same time.
Saddle tanks full of brine also will be on the new heavy trucks. The tanks will allow drivers to spread both brine and salt at the same time - a more effective method than the way it happens now, he said.
Road crews pour water over the salt in the truck to activate it faster once it hits the streets, Townsend said.
The commission’s operations - both in the engineering department and field work - are typically manned by the equivalent of 130 full-time employees.
For the past three to four years, the road commission has been operating with about 105 employees.
With the addition of two new employees in the engineering department and switching six temporary employees to full-time status, the net gain of eight employees will mean that the road commission still has 17 vacant positions that it won’t likely be filling this year.
The road commission’s engineering department still has six vacancies, and there is a finance clerk position that is vacant.
The six temporary employees were hired in December to drive snowplows and work in the operations department, which had 16 vacancies going into this winter season after retirements and relocations. They’ll now be full time, but the operations department will be doing its job without 10 employees it once had.
Temporary employees do not receive benefits as full-time employees do.
The road commission also has reinstated a merit-based bonus program for non-union employees that it suspended in 2008.
The program gives one-time lump sum bonuses to non-union employees at the top of their pay schedule who are no longer eligible for merit-based salary increases.