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Posted on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Why snowplows weren't on Ann Arbor freeways before Thursday's rush hour

By Cindy Heflin

The snow that made Ann Arbor roads and freeways treacherous Thursday came too late to call in Washtenaw County Road Commission trucks earlier than normal, the agency’s director of operations said Thursday afternoon.

Drivers already were on their way to start their normal 7 a.m. shifts when the snow arrived in most areas, Jim Harmon said.


A Washtenaw County Road Commission truck clears snow from a road in this file photo. file photo

“This storm basically arrived at the rush hour and coincided with our drivers coming into work,” he said.

Also, Harmon said, the intensity of the storm and the amount of snow it left had not been anticipated. “The forecast that we had yesterday did not identify the degree of lake effect snow that we had.”

About 2 inches of snow had accumulated in the Ann Arbor area before the morning rush hour was over.

The snow sent drivers slipping, sliding and crashing into one another, especially on freeways. Multiple crashes were reported on Interstate 94 and U.S. 23, with the worst in the Washtenaw County area on U.S. 23 near Milan. A pileup of cars, trucks and semis shut the freeway for a few hours.

In Detroit, a multi-vehicle crash in whiteout conditions on I-75 killed three people and closed the southbound lanes of the freeway for much of the day.

Harmon said people sometimes expect the road commission to salt roads ahead of a storm, but he said that doesn’t work.

“We don’t put salt on bare pavement,” he said. “Traffic driving on that will blow it off into the ditch. It’s a waste of material that costs $45 a ton. Taxpayers are funding that. We take that very seriously."

The salt needs moisture to begin to break down and do its work. Harmon said he drove on dry pavement on much of his drive into work Thursday morning.

In some cases, brine can be used to pretreat surfaces, but temperatures were too low Thursday morning for that to be effective, he said.

Salt begins to lose its effectiveness around 20 degrees, Harmon said, and takes much longer to work than it does at warmer temperatures.

Some drivers did report early Thursday, Harmon said, when snow began falling in southwest Washtenaw County around 6 a.m.

The Road Commission also extended its workday past the end of the regular shift at 3:30 p.m. to deal with continuing snow in the area. Some previously treated areas were refreezing, he said.

He noted it takes a while for drivers to salt and plow all the pavement on their routes. “We have 46 routes. Some of those are 25 to 45 miles long. It takes a while to get around.”

Drivers can facilitate the process by slowing down and paying attention, he said. Drivers often report seeing texting or other cell phone use in cars. “Focus on the driving environment,” he said.

Cindy Heflin is associate news director for Contact her at 734-623-2572 or or follow her on Twitter.



Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

There is someone who likely works for the road commission that can't deal with the critical comments about the performance (or lack thereof) of the commission. This poster is voting down all the critical comments.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Look out the windshield --- see the road? If it looks slippery -slow down! Your boss will live another day if your 15 mins late.

Joe Hood

Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 6:36 a.m.

The National Weather forecast for the previous day mentioned a blast of snow from a fast moving system.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 5:23 a.m.

Newer technology has communities spreading salt on roads before storms hit using liquid mediums like beet juice to spread the substance. Are local communities lacking. This technology? Good question for a journalist to ask.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Yeah, but here we'd have to use organically-grown, locally-sourced, free-range beets so it would cost a fortune.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

HMMM H any body or the HOLW department better get a new radio/TV or have the ewathermen call and wake-up all the DRIVERS...saving to taxpayer $ 45 .....oh oh oh


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

You have probably NEVER been up as early as the drivers get up regularly!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

The Administrators of the Washtenaw County Road Commission can say what they will to defend their decision, but the bottom line is that for the past 12 years my morning commute of 50+ miles takes me through Washtenaw County, Wayne County, Oakland County, and Macomb County. The winter road conditions are ALWAYS the most treacherous in Washtenaw County. Go ahead and ignore the opinions of your citizen base, but the Road Commissions of your neighboring counties have found a solution for winter road treatment that works!


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

And how many trucks and employee's does those counties have compared to Washtenaw Co.? If you really know then let us know don't just give any ole answer.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

the Road Commissions of your neighboring counties have found a solution for winter road treatment that works! That's why there was a pile up in Wayne county!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Yet Wayne county somehow "predicted" that putting salt down before rushhour would be responsible after the weather service announced the DAT before that there would be ice in the AM followed by flurries! It seems the weather was only a SURPRISE to washtenaw county.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

See how far you get making Wayne county your model for doing things! Ha Ha


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

jcj I think you are Jim Harmon!!!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

Think Again! I am just someone that knows how it works!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

Sounds like a bunch of scared kids thrown into their new world reality. No, mankind does not control the complex forces of Mother Nature (yet) but is making the weather more unstable as time goes on. With some chance less. Get used to it - your nanny state won't save you - it cannot. Although some still believe politicians. After those who have run off with the public's profit are all caught, tarred, and feathered (the last mass revolution against greedy slackers) then people will likely resolve to survive this "apocalypse" working together. The scary climate will get worse. Scientist guaranteed. . Truck drivers have Commercial Drivers' Licenses. CDLs are Federal licenses governed by both Federal and State law issued by the State. Federal law dictates how long drivers can be behind the wheel before they must stop driving and how long they must rest in between jobs. Don't forget to include that fact in your know-it-all crystal ball complaints about when drivers ought to be up and running during another supercell weather event.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

I went to bed thinking there would be a snow day for AAPS. I woke up at 6am and kept checking my email for the snow day email, but it never came. If there had been a snow day there would have been a lot less vehicles on the road, and so less of a mess. I know they have a cut off time for notifying but perhaps that should be reviewed, if they had sent an email at 7am even it would have meant less folks on the road. Next time I'm going with my gut and staying home, I stupidly thought there were folks out there who knew better than I about the safety of being on the road.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

The rhetoric of "if you complain, you must be able to do better" is false. Someone who is in charge of scheduling snowplow routes probably wouldnt be able to do what I do for a living. Of course, I have no experience as a head of a road commission. But, guess what: IT IS JIM HARMON'S JOB to schedule correctly! We all have jobs, and no I wasnt out at 5 am yesterday shoveling snow...because I was getting ready for MY JOB, where my resources were needed.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

Looks like the road commission has no need to improve with all the comments defending them here. If you can't be critical of a government service, it will surely never improve. A warm day of rain followed by a bitter cold day should be enough information to understand the road conditions were going to be bad. I think the comments about the salt trucks schedules are well thought out. Starting salt trucks scheduled days at 7:00 am is a poor plan when half the work force is already on the slippery roads.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

Also, Harmon said, the intensity of the storm and the amount of snow it left had not been anticipated. "The forecast that we had yesterday did not identify the degree of lake effect snow that we had." I am retired, and not privy to the detailed weather forecasts Mr. Harmon is, and even I knew we were in for a very bad storm just listening to radio weather reports, and looking at my app on my tablet. Huh?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

Timing is everything; measureable snow onset coinciding with shift changes. As long as there were winder weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service, then road crews should have been scheduled in earlier. Shift premiums and extra pay are all part of a nasty winter period such as the case. Since more snow is expected each day into next week, perhaps the scheduling can be adjusted to fit the real need.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

Spoken like a true novice!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

I wonder who is in charge of making the decision to tow vehicles? On I-94 Thursday morning traffic was down to a crawl (delay of 2 hours) between Chelsea and Ann Arbor, due to a Fed-Ex semi. Why was it so urgent to tow the semi during rush hour? Doesn't it make more sense to pull it over to the shoulder and tow it later, after the rush hour traffic. There were no police on the scene, just a firetruck blocking one lane while the tow truck driver was attempting to do something? It was quite comical when the salt truck drove by everyone as he salted the shoulder of the road?


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

Apearntly you didn't know that the semi had leaked over 100 gallons of diesel fuel from hitting that cable system. The salt truck is just suppose to set in traffic then I guess right?

Frank Lee

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

There is a problem if the Road Commission is relying on forecasts as oppose to real-time radar. Lake effect snow is nothing new and conditions were prime.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

That's a BIG IF! Thew road commission has a night crew of 4 during the winter months. The supervisor also gets out early to personally see what conditions ARE! He can NOT put trucks out in an instant!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5 p.m.

Some of the Monday morning quarterbacks seem to be saying "He's just making excuses," when what they really mean is, "He's stating facts that I don't wish to acknowledge," or similarly, "I've made up my mind; don't confuse me with facts." Or perhaps more generally, "I'd rather live in a magical fantasy world than have to deal with reality." I'm not a meteorologist, but I've studied, and am familiar with, the rudiments of meteorology and keep pretty close tabs on what is happening. I'm not recalling anything in the forecasts that would have called for mobilizing the road treatment crews hours ahead of schedule. So, spare me all the "they should have anticipated," blah blah blah.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

I'm not a meteorologist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express! Thanks for sharing.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

Get over it and drive slower.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

It began to snow late Wed. night. I had snow on my car. So, if it snowed late, why weren't they called in at that time to either begin taking care of roads or to be ready to take care of them at 6 or 6:30 a.m.? No one monitors the winter weather overnight?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

Funny almost without exception most accounts said the snow started between 5am and 6am! Do you live in Alaska? Maybe you set your clocks ahead too soon!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

A longish drive with bad road conditions is certainly hair-raising and being a Michigan native, I've had that experience many times. But I'm going to zoom out a few clicks here and say something about our modern day tendency to live far from our workplaces. If you choose to live far away you're making yourself dependent upon a vehicle that may or may not function perfectly and also upon the governmental bodies that are in charge of keeping roadways usable. These things aren't really under your control so you are somewhat beholden. Living close to work and using the bus also makes a person dependent, make no mistake, but bus users tend to have a more immediate sense of where their sense of control and entitlement ends. Just food for thought, and a remembrance of a time when people worked where they lived, could come home for lunch, and had more time to spend with their families because their commute was just a few minutes. :)


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Did all the arm chair supervisors get up at 5 am and salt the sidewalks in front of their homes to ensure safe passage of postal workers and pedestrians. I doubt it. There is always a basic uncertainty to natural phenomena. No one person or organization can predict with certainly all the time what the future will bring. I think the WCRC is a well managed group. If they were to implement all the irrational suggestions from some of the commenter the budget would have to triple. The same commentators would then be blasting away about the waste and abuse, and would have many conspiracy theories. Last night ABC evening news did a story on all the terrible accidents around the USA due to this weather system. In the end nature will prevail against the best plans of humans. I appreciate the work the drivers and staff do considering their foe.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

I had to go out yesterday. The roads I used had been treated. Earhart north of Plymouth was clean on my way. On my return, although it had not been snowing, snow had blown across the road. I used a little common sense and slowed down and avoided the patches as much as possible. Cars driving over light snow on roads will turn the snow to ice. Winter roads will often be bad in Michigan. It is important that drivers learn and use winter driving skills. White outs or other patchy snow cannot be predicted by the road commissions. Road trucks cannot be everywhere at once. The drivers deserve breaks. It's a hard job. Driving during rush hour is always more hazardess than driving when there are fewer cars on the road. Carry cat litter or sand in your trunk. Keep your windshield washer fluid full. Carry blankets, candles and matches in your car. Wear boots or keep them in your car. Dress for the weather in case you do get stranded. Remember. it's hard to plow city streets when there are cars parked along them.

Cindy Heflin

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

I got an update this morning from Jim Harmon. Here's what he had to say: "All crews worked until 8 p.m. last evening. The 4-person night patrol worked overnight on state trunklines from 8 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. The entire regular shift was called in at 4 a.m. this morning and continues winter maintenance operations countywide."


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

This update refers to THURSDAY night and FRIDAY morning. The article refers to THURSDAY's debacle. Harmon is full of excuses and needs to be replaced, since he can't get a crew out there on the roads IN ADVANCE of storms to pretreat roads as is done in other counties. 4 people working overnight? 4???? for all of Washtenaw County???


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

Cindy...they can't please everyone. Next we will see complaints about the overtime the crews were paid to get the job done. Some people are never happy.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

I have reported driver for county just sitting on milan exits and WRC did nothing said he could be waiting for salt to work, well why not go on and salt other roads, not good use of time. Maybe they should track trucks with GPS!!!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

GUESS What DRIVERLESS CAR ARE ON THE here comes progress ..!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Typical complainer! Do you know how long the driver had been there? Do you know how the system of each driver Having assigned routes work? Or would you prefer the drivers decide where they should go and when? Any chance it was their break time? some of them worked 18 hours or more! Get Real!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

I just read all the " no excuses " comments.Funny thing is, that not one offered any type of solution


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

I DID...NEW DRIVERLESS CARS just THINK we Taxpayer ALL the mONEY we be more overtime or l.. employees..etc etc


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Look at the accident reports statewide yesterday! Are all road commissions incompetent? Posters are always saying how bad the roads are when entering Washtenaw county. WHERE was the pile up yesterday? The one thing ALL counties have in common is lazy incompetent drivers/complainers!

John Bennett

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

Come on. I'm no weather expert and I knew it was going to be rough.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

Prior to moving to Michigan a few years ago, I lived in towns in the northeast part of the country. We got a lot more snow but is was much safer to drive because they did such a great job with snow removal and icing the roads. I continue to be shocked at the poor road conditions here after even just a small amount of snow. It's not just Ann Arbor but SE Michigan in general. Budget cuts I guess.

Ghost of Tom Joad

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

personally I'm shocked at the outrage on this board. Many of these same posters who are complaining about the lack of service are the people who complain that the government is too involved in our lives. County Road Commissions are nothing but socialist endeavors anyway.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

I am pretty sure that people complaining about about too much government involvement in their lives aren't referring to snow plowing.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

Oookay....and what exactly do you base that comment on ?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

He noted it takes a while for drivers to salt and plow all the pavement on their routes. "We have 46 routes. Some of those are 25 to 45 miles long. It takes a while to get around." Guess what??? START EARLIER!!!! HIRE MORE PEOPLE!!!! Get more trucks!!!!! And stop making excuses.

going nowhere

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

jrw..let's say start earlier (roads were fine earlier)...hire more people (who's gonna pay for them)....get more trucks (are you donating them?)....and let me guess....NO more i right?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4 p.m.

But don't raise my taxes!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

Guess what??? START EARLIER!!!! applies to lazy incompetent drivers too!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

$45 a ton seems like a good deal to me. Sounds life saving even..


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

the state police have a site about road conditions and all areas at 3am were reported as ice so may road commission should get out of bed and check the site out.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

How many State police cars do you see on the road in a month? 2-3? So many ill informed comments is disheartening.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

All TV channels were reporting a hazardous commute and all kinds of weather advisories were forecast for the early morning. NO EXCUSES. It is the responsibility of the road commission to be PROACTIVE. I am just appalled that the road crews did not understand with all that massive amount of water on Wed and the well publicized plunging temperatures Wed night as well as snow coming in, that there would be a hazardous commute. To just show up for work on Thursday as if there was no weather event is just incredible.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

"This storm basically arrived at the rush hour and coincided with our drivers coming into work," he said. This is a TOTALLY ludicrous reason. The storm had plenty of ADVANCE warning on all kinds of weather channels, on TV and online. Doesn't the road commission have computers? Do they know about I have NEVER heard of anything so ludicrous in my life. Yet another example of the unprofessional conduct of the road commission. Fire all of them and hire professionals that will act in a proactive manner.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

When cars are sliding into school buses its time to act before someone gets killed due to a incompetent road commission. Well put JRW!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Why bother commenting when you don't know the FACTS! I know for a fact the road commission looks at radar CONSTANTLY. But that does not mean they can react in an instant. Must be one of those that leaves the house 10 min late every day and try's to make up for it at others risk!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

So why does the work day start at 7am? Seems logical to begin well before the morning rush hour, like 5am? Pretty simple answer to a pretty simple problem, or is this another Union thing?

going nowhere

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

i believe it is because of other maintenance that goes on that requires daylight...when it's not snowing they do normal operations....i'm sure they don't just sit in a truck all winter and wait for it to snow.....i've seen them out fixing guardrail on some cold mornings...looks like a job that you would need daylight to do


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Yes, nekm1, the unions have a hotline to Mother Nature and tell her when to make it snow.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Funny thing is...the Road Commission never seems to miss a chance to grade the dirt roads in the county right before it rains....


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

If in fact the road commission should be out before the roads get bad based on the forecast. WHY are the arm chair supervisors not complaining because they were not out this morning? The forecast was for bad roads this morning. It was totally wrong! Some of the so called logic in these post is tainted with comments form those that want to run out of there house and take off as if it was July leaving with their with windshield covered in ice or snow. Then they try to drive 80 to make up for their laziness. I can only imagine what kind of job they do when/if they get there!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

FYI trucks were out this morning, you must not get out and drive much.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

Jim Harmon is a real piece of work. He had these excuses last year as well. Are the trucks out now. Apparently this job is just simply above his head. Time for a change.

Linda Peck

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

This was a very serious weather event that was well predicted. We have water all over and then the cold front came in. That equals ice. We all know this. Ice under snow is most dangerous. People lost their lives yesterday in this event! This is not a time for doing a tap dance. Get with it and get the salt on the ice.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Oh so now the Road Commission has to play GOD and prevent mother nature from causing white outs that cause the accidents too? geeeeez really?!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Linda You might direct your complaint to the proper county if you think lives were lost because of negligence! But it in fact was a WHITE OUT. No road commission I know of can control that!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

The lives lost were NOT a result of ice under the snow! By all credible accounts the roads were DRY before the snow started falling!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

It's not just the county that blew this one. The city of AA didn't score well either. I saw salt trucks and plows keeping the southern part of town (and sidewalks) moving well, but the northwest side was totally bogged down. Huron St. and north was a mass of slipping and sliding vehicles, including garbage pickup trucks. Miller was gridlocked in both directions until after noon. I hope someone learned a lesson!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

JRW please learn about what your are saying before you say it. It is a very STRONG statement to say fire them all. Because putting you in the job would be so much better. There are ALOT of extemelly hard workers that work in the areas that you are complaingin about. And I ams ure that there are some less then hard workers in them too. Just like EVERY job. But to say FIRE THEM ALL. Is harsh.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

They will never learn any lessons. They just come to work when their shift starts, regardless of the actual weather conditions or forecast. All of the city road maintenance workers are a bunch of amateurs. I'm sure the city had a bunch of silly excuses. Fire all of them and hire professionals.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

"Drivers" need to leave earlier and drive s-l-o-w-e-r! As I see it white outs are much like a deer running out in front of you. I left my house and was at work 30 minutes early and US 23 drivers were going 80 miles an hour. I was at work just as the snow started coming down in white outs.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

@A2roots: Yes, you are correct in that I blasted two different groups in one comment; the reality check in my opinion is that the decision makers in the county and the city, not the workers, BOTH deserve to be blasted. If Dancer road is the end of someone's route, why is the remainder of this western route left un-touched? Again, why is my safety at 5am less important than those who use public roads at 9am or 3pm? You are also correct that those old days no longer exist; the reality check is that when I make a public comment I fully expect a response from someone who takes sarcasm literally, or tells me to slow down, or tells me that it is winter, deal with it. Tell me something helpful that I don't know, like where our tax dollars -city OR county are really going if they are not being used towards the road maintenance. Maybe it is time to call the Problem Solvers and bring this to television news media for answers.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

I will not disagree with you on the level of our public services and how across the board they have deteriorated over the years. I am as po'd as anyone over the deterioration of services. I as well pay big taxes living in A2 but also know the reality of the situation our politicians and public servants are dealing with.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

There are a limited number of trucks and they can't be everywhere at once, so some areas will not be plowed when you drive on them.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

I was driving I-94 the other day & it hadn't snowed the night before & the roads were good no ice no snow. Yet here comes one of the BIG plows scraping the shoulder of the highway sparks flying. I had to think to myself, I wonder how much it was costing me for that truck to be out there plowing pavement. What a waste


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

So you grip when they are not out but then when they may be out doing some aftermath maintanance your complaining????? Never happy. Complain Complain Complain. If you think you can do a better job. Then apply and show them how its done!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Well they got the forecast WRONG this morning. The road commission should have had a full crew out at 4am according to some of the armchair wanna be supervisors!

going nowhere

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

they were out in full crews this morning at 4 a.m.....saw them leaving on my way home


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Having drivers come in during rush hour seems really inappropriate management. It really defies logic. They need to be at-the-ready before rush hour, for treating the roads for rush hour is their duty. If their duty was to treat the roads for the after-rush-hour folks, then coming in during rush hour makes sense. Otherwise, they need to be there prior to rush hour. Then let them off earlier - shift the shifts. Also, the comments about drivers texting and talking on their cell phones really is patronizing. Harmon's job is to enact a work environment in his shop that is coherent with its charge - making the driving environment safer during these winter months. He needs to manage his own environment and let the drivers manage their own 'shop.' The ones who are texting and talking will suffer the consequences, but those consequences should not be mindlessly increased because Harmon can't manage his environment. He is just trying to shift the blame, and it really feels like a bush league move.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

Unfortunately, often other people who are driving responsibly are involved when there are accidents caused by those who are texting and talking and minding their own shop.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

So many people whining from their armchair, complaining, complaining, complaining. And you know what? If the Road Commission next week lays down a bunch of salt for an anticipated snow storm, like all the whiners want, and then that snow storm doesn't come or is less than was expected, all those whiners will be right here on whining about a waste of tax dollars. You can't please all the people all of the time.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 2:01 a.m.

JRW, let us know how that works out for you. ;)


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 2 a.m.

Enso, these people are never happy, they need to hug that tree a little tighter!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

Yeah, Bob, as they should. I'm not sure I understand the logic of poisoning our water and the land around us so that we can drive in weather that wasn't meant to be driven in.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

It would be much better to err on the side of caution. So what if some salt is wasted? Isn't that better than incredibly icy roads with ambulances and school buses and cars and semis in all kinds of unnecessary accidents? Start sending the damage bills to the city and county.

Basic Bob

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Don't forget we will have Greenpeace and the Sierra Club protesting the destruction of the watershed ecosystem when the salt runs into the storm sewers.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Wow. Sometimes when I read the comments in these news articles, I can't help but wonder what it would be like to work with some of these people! I'm talking about the name callers, and irrational critics! You know who i mean! My guess is they'd be your typical bully types. There IS a way to state your comments and concerns without such hate rhetoric. I wonder if they would actually shout those same exact words if the person for whom they are intended was actually standing in front of them? That would be interesting to see!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

I work in an office park on a town road that is never plowed or salted - many days at 5 miles an hour (ok i guess we could drive slower - maybe minus 2 mph). Every year many cars end up in the ditch even professional drivers (ie police officers). I would be happy to state my comments in front of the people that cash my property tax payment and provide sub standard service without repercussions. IMHO

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Oh my gosh! Two inches! I don't know how we get along in life! Come on, people, it's really so simple. It's winter in Michigan - put your big boy pants on, wake up a little earlier than you do in the summer and leave some extra time for traveling in bad conditions. You might have to drive a little slower than you did the day before. Oh, the horrors! If you can't do that, then you need to move south.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Well I did get up early and start out early only to set on the highway parked for one hour!! no way to get off, guess I could have drove down the shoulder like others did, but I didn't all I ask for is just a little of my tax dollar salt spent on the roads.

Bob W

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Hmm, I see my post was deleted. I reviewed the guidelines. So which one did I violate? I couldn't spot it??


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

It's not the 2 inches of snow. It's the 2 inches on top of days of rain which suddenly froze late Wednesday night and they didn't do much of a job of clearing.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

Amen! If I could have given your comment a thumb's up 10 times, I would have.

Gretchen Ridenour

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Amen to that!

Gretchen Ridenour

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Nothing is entirely predictable. Consider my morning drive yesterday. When I left Ypsi at 7:30 it was snowing with light accumulation but roads were okay. Stopped at Target on Michigan and Beck for a few minutes. Resumed my trip east and roads were solid ice. Took 30 min to get to I-275. Headed north and by Ann Arbor Trail it was like I was in a different weather zone. Bright, no snow, dry roads. By 6 Mile there were snow squalls, icy roads and a couple of accidents. After 2 hrs I made it to 10 Mile and Orchard Lake. Just a few flurries and dry roads. Left there after a few min and headed to my final destination at 12 Mile and Novi. Started out as a dry drive, but I arrived in snow squalls with accumulating snow. I was never more than 30-35 miles from home, yet the weather changed so many times. The Road Commission may have made a few mistakes, but dpending on where you were at any given time, you may have been in a different weather zone. Thanks for the work you do!


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

Gretchen Ridenour, and these people on here are still calling this a snow storm. Unreal!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

I would like to know why Jackson road is no longer being groomed farther west than Dancer! WCRC trucks are plowing/salting Jackson Road west only up to Dancer or Parker roads and then TURNING AROUND and heading back east....why is that? It is not only me that has watched this happen as there are three of us who have witnessed the trucks doing this turn around at 5am -what gives, WCRC? If the WCRC is not responsible for it, then who is? Why is MY safety at 5am less important than those who use the roads at 9am or 3pm? Is it due to budget or a contract issue? Something is very very wrong here and judging by all the comments on the public wants answers . City of Ann Arbor, there are no words to describe the horrible roads and complete lack of maintenance and snow removal. Yes, I said REMOVAL. Anyone remember the old days when they loaded trucks with street snow then dumped it all at Vets Park? WHY do the voters of Ann Arbor keep voting for this?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Oh and just so you know WCRC and the city are 2 different entities and run things 2 different way. make sure you know who is what before you complain.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

There are different workers that work different routes. If you feel some area is not being done right. Call into the Road Commission and complain. They do listen. If a worker is out sick or not there someone has to cover that route. So it just may take awhile longer for a truck to be seen in that vacinity.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

I sure don't remember when they dumped snow at Vets Park. You sure you aren't thinking about the pile of snow outside that left by the Zamboni?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Time to do a reality check mcfly. This is not the old days anymore. Trucks turn around at the end of their route. And besides you appear to be blasting Ann Arbor services while Dancer and Jackson roads area is not in the city. Over the last 20 years if there was a snowfall or accumulation over time the city has either removed snow or hired contractors to do so.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Really? "Drivers can facilitate the process by slowing down and paying attention, he said. Drivers often report seeing texting or other cell phone use in cars. "Focus on the driving environment," he said. Here is a news flash jim Harmon! We the taxpayers see your drivers smoking cigs, drinking coffee, eating doghnuts, talking on their cell phones, and taking the odd nap behind the storage shed!:)


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:50 a.m.

JBK really? Then get a truck number or photo and call it in then. I guess the driver's are not allowed to drink or eat anything. You people crack me up!


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

DRIVER should be out of there trucks during breaks...


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

I see them parked all the time snow or no snow down by Milan, but I'm sure they have many hours of break time they have to make up. lol


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

JBK how do you know they aren't are their breaks???? Do you know their schedules?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

Always easier to lay blame and make false accusations. Let us all know the next time you are able to predict or control mother nature.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Question for Jim Harmon - what time do you get up in the morning? Channel 4 at 4:30 AM was predicting this and was advising a hazerdous commute. Additionally the night before at 10 PM Fox local news also said it woudl be a difficult commute due to the "rush hour" storm coming. STOP THE EXCUSES - or find a new profession. Your excuses should be documented on your review.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

To JRW- Aside of Jim Harmon's comments. Why are we calling the crews unprofessional???? I want to know that. Do you have proof or are you just bashing the workers for no reason at all. And its you had proof did you complain or proactivly do anything about ot. Or are you just one of the WCRC haters that is NEVER HAPPY.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

apple...not complaining nor am I suggesting someone find a new profession.Just commenting.HOWEVER if I was complaining I would offer more than just " no excuses " I would at least offer a idea of a possible solution.You ?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

JRW... this was not a "storm", and no "storm" was predicted. It was lake effect snow off Lake Michigan.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Obviously Jim Harmon and his unprofessional crew don't have computers or TV. This storm was predicted well in advance.

Hot Sam

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Some jobs require a different "life" than others...make hay when the sun shines etc. If your job is snow removal, and we all know it's coming, you prepare...sometimes we alter our sleep and our "life" to get the "job" done...


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Professional complainer - and yours? (since you asked)


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Yep...He shouldn't sleep or have a life.What is your profession by the way ?

greg s

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Always after the snow, every time it snows they are no where in site until later in the day or the next days. The subdivisions have to wait 2 or 3 days after a snow, Just does not make sense since 2 years in a row we have not had normal snows, not like they are over worked or out of salt.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

JRW again that is the City of Ann Arbor NOT the Road Commission! But I guess they are all the same to you people.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

greg, So they should pull off the high speed freeways to come in your low speed subdivsion and take care of it first?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

On Thursday, main streets in AA were dry and clear, yet in the afternoon, many side streets in residential areas were totally covered in thick ice and not a salt truck to be found. I guess as long as Washtenaw and Huron and Stadium are done, it's time for coffee and donuts!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Why do the drivers come in to work during rush hour and not before?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

So, why do their shifts start at 0700 and not *before* rush hour? If I run a diner, I need to ensure that my staff is on hand *before* my lunch and dinner rushes start so that they can do whatever prep work is necessary. This isn't rocket science.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Funny this morning they came down my road at 6:15a.m., would have been nice to have that same service yesterday!

Cindy Heflin

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

They drive in between the 6 and 7 a.m. in order to start their shifts at 7.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

That may require premium shift pay which will impact tax income and spending. This all comes down to how much do you want to pay for Government? Democrats would love to put in all kind of federal programs to handle snow removal Republicans would love for it to be handled by the volunteer efforts or the national guard and suggest most people can get 4x4 drivetrain and large vehicles and just plow through it Libertarians would love to have the local cities do their own snow removal and have it paid for by each person who lives in said streets per incident (satire)


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

There was no way to predict the white out conditions that occurred. Yeah, some roads were's winter. It's 18 degrees outside. Things freeze and get slick and it requires us to slow down. If anyone is making excuses it's the people driving to fast and distracted. Although to be fair, the people driving way to slow also create a different road hazard.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

I have a 45 minute commute into Ann Arbor. There were roads completely dry and road that was slick with ice. I agree the roads were not great, but isn't that part of living in Michigan? The accident on 75 yesterday was caused by white out conditions, not ice. At least that's what the reports I read stated.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

I wasn't driving either to fast or to slow. I was driving to Ann Arbor and the roads were too icy.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Thank you for trying your best. You are workers. Not God. I appreciate your efforts.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

It's just the usual " Nannyville " blather ...people too damn lazy to pay attention to the weather and traffic ..busy on the cell phone . texting , eating , putting on makeup , actually drive...much less pay attention to the conditions....

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

They were on the phone or texting for a tow truck & were hungry, & a girl has to look good for the tow truck driver. duh


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

I kept searching for the term "work rules" in the explanation. I feel they might have played a role.

Basic Bob

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

Can we borrow your crystal ball.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

It was raining the day before and the reports were the temps would fall overnight. I knew the roads would be bad. All the weathermen warned the roads would be bad. A mistake was made. It's okay. It happens. Excuses are for children.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

I guess all the cars I saw sliding down the hill on Newport rd. was because of snow not the ice


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Seriously Cindy? Its pretty clear to anyone who was out there that the problem was fresh snow on top of ice. The ice was from the rain the previous day and evening. Its the combination that was so treacherous. And yes, those conditions were foreseeable - exactly when they would occur, however, perhaps was not.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Well Cindy Heflin, Jim Harmon doesn't know what he is talking about then! Speaking from the North West portion of the county, we had LOTS of standing water on our roads prior to and during the temperature plunge. Its doesn't take a genius to know what is going to be the consequence of this change. Some of us knew it, planned for it, and drove accordingly, however it would have been far less of a nail biting experience if the Road Commission had been out treating the ICED over roads. I am speaking directly to North Territorial, Dexter Townhall, Island Lake, and even more ridiculous was Baker Road between downtown Dexter and Jackson Road. Even Jackson road was a hot mess all the way back to Chelsea! I am not a sheeple just because you say it and people want to argue about it, doesn't make it a fact, it just deflects the real problem, the policies and performance of the Road Commission. If lay people can predict this issue, the professionals should be able to as well.

Basic Bob

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

The road was clean and dry at 6:00 am, had you actually gone outside to see.

Cindy Heflin

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Jim Harmon said snow was the problem yesterday, not water on the road that froze.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

Excuses, excuses. In bad weather you can always tell when you've entered Washtenaw County. The road conditions always get worse.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

You must not drive anywhere near Jackson Co. then!

going nowhere

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:50 p.m. should try crossing the lenawee county line....then you might have a different opinion..but, something tells me you wouldn't


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

the area in milan was WCR area have reported the driver in that area for just sitting on exits and nothing is ever done in fact he was just sitting in traffic yesterday morning near milan in the back up. I sat on freeway 1hr due to reck in milan.

Basic Bob

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Except it was much worse every place else. Wayne County - 3 people died in a 3900 car pileup Monroe County - road closed for hours Genesee County - road closed for hours Of course we can try to blame the road commission for causing whiteouts and ill-timed snow squalls? How often does the lake effect snow make it past Jackson and Lansing anyway? Next time take your time, drive slow, and avoid steep hills if you can, just like drivers in OH, PA, NY, etc.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Barzoom I did!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : noon

Barzoom....I didn't thumbs down you.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

Other than the excuses part I agree with you.You don't even need bad weather to tell when you hit the county line.You can tell just by the condition of the roads


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

I wish they had been out earlier but guess what, you just deal with it. Sometimes the timing of the storm is not the best but handle it. Keep up the good work Road Commission.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

You must be joking. Good work? What fantasy world are you living in?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Excuses, excuses every body has one. Perhaps we need some one new to head this department.

going nowhere

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

thursday morning i was on the area freeways at 5 a.m., and they were all dry and bare...( no ice from falling temps.) so stop saying it was ice due to the rain on wed... and staggering the crews would mean the trucks that are out would have even more miles to cover for the crews routes that you say to stay later.. weather events happen and this is michigan...if your so unhappy the way roads get in the winter...perhaps a southern state would be better suited for you....but you would probobly blame those road commissions for the mosquitoes in those areas


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

Not that the man knows what he is talking about. Love the way dunces know more than the scholars.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Given the number of down votes for aa1940, there must be someone from the road commission on this board. Jim Harmon does not appear to be taking responsibility for the failure of his department to respond to weather events adequately in Washtenaw County. Perhaps he needs to be replaced with someone who will take responsibility for being PROACTIVE.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Maybe we should run salt trucks and plows 24/7 from mid November through the end of March. Then anytime, snow or freezing rain started, they'd be in place to start dropping their salt or plowing. Expensive, but it's the closest we could get to a guarantee that the road you use would be easy traveling.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

1940 Perhaps you feel qualified?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

dennis Still waiting for your "common sense" approach!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

I would have used some common sense. To fix blame on weather reports not pinning down a snow storm during drive time is specious. Weather forecasting is good but still has its limits. However, we had rain all day Wed and plummeting temps starting Wed evening. Snow is one thing, snow over ice patches is another. Second, and using some longer-term thinking, how bright is it to have your plow crew arrive for work at the same time when traffic is at its highest. Like many operations, perhaps you should stagger shifts so crews arrive before typical drive time. A 6 - 3pm shift would ensure that one crew is up and out before drive time really kicks in and a fresh crew is up and out when the evening drive time is up and out. I guess that would probably have required some planning during collective bargaing time but that's what we pay the bureaucrats to do--think ahead. We're talking safety here. Pileups are deadly as we just saw. Drivers need to be cautious but no one can guarantee that out of thousands of drivers all are equally skilled and careful. What we can do is provide the best road conditions feasible. Yes, there will be times when we get totally surprised, but those are really few and far between. In most instances there are enough indicators to say we need to be ready--the transition to icy conditions was not unpredicted and began the night before. It wasn't a surprise to anyone, except, perhaps the road commission.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

It's michigan ..It's winter deal with it...


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

aa1940...Ok.. with the weather info they had, how would've you handled it ?