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Posted on Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Numerous accidents reported across Washtenaw County as winter storm hits

By John Counts


REI Assistant Store Manager Noel Seeburg salts the sidewalk after shoveling in front of the store located in the Cranbrook Village Shopping Center on Wednesday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell I

There were numerous accidents reported Wednesday afternoon across Washtenaw County as a winter storm began blowing into the area.

Since snow started falling around 12:30 p.m., county dispatchers said they had received reports of eight separate accidents on area roadways. They included: eastbound M-14 at U.S. 23, westbound Interstate 94 at U.S. 23, eastbound I-94 and Baker, northbound U.S. 23 east of Willis, northbound 23 at North Territorial Road, southbound 23 at Geddes, westbound M-14 at Ford and northbound U.S. 23 and Plymouth.

Pittsfield Township dispatch had officers out at two accident on Ellsworth Road, one at Crystal Creek Drive and another at Silverleaf Drive.

There have been no reported injuries. Joyce Williams, spokeswoman for Huron Valley Ambulance, said at 1:40 p.m. there have been no medical transports. Ambulances did respond to a 10-car pile-up on southbound U.S. 23 between Geddes and Washtenaw at 1:13 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for all of Washtenaw County until 7 a.m. Thursday. Total snowfall accumulations of 4 to 7 inches are possible. The snow in southeast Michigan is just part of a major storm moving across the Northeast. Read more about the storm on

More than 1,000 airline flights have been canceled during the past 48 hours, according to a Detroit Free Press report. US Airways is even waiving the change fee for customers who must alter their flights due to severe Christmas weather, the Associated Press is reporting.

Updated at 3:30 p.m.:

A Washtenaw County dispatcher said there have been an estimated 20 to 30 reports of traffic accidents since snow moved into the area around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday -- many of them minor.

As of 3:30 p.m., the two main accidents blocking traffic were a rollover on northbound U.S. 23 at the Willis ramp and a three-car crash on southbound U.S. 23 at Washtenaw Avenue.

Williams said HVA hasn't transported anyone to the hospital yet due to the crashes, but ambulances have been dispatched to "many accidents."

Update at 4:30 p.m.:

A dispatcher said there are a lot of cars in ditches along area freeways as of 4:30 p.m., but not any major accidents.

Kirk Pennington, supervisor of street maintenance for Ann Arbor, said all seven trucks are out plowing and salting roadways in the city. At first, the trucks will only hit primary roads like Plymouth, State, Miller and Washtenaw, Pennington said. Side streets that are a fourth or fifth priority could remain untouched, he added.

The department's shift was set to change at 6 p.m. and Pennington anticipated all nine employees would be out in trucks working on snow removal overnight.

Check the weather page for updated forecasts anytime.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

It sounded like there were dozens of spin outs along the highways. The police sure were busy yesterday!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

20-30 accidents... at least they involve cars... Glad the snow is here!!! I just saved 25% of my brake life by not stopping for bikers!!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:47 a.m.

I am so happy I didn't have to work tonight! I just slept right through all this mess! Times like this I wish I had three Huskies so they could carry me around on a sledge. Mush, puppies! Mush! I'm glad to hear there were no major accidents and no injuries. But a 10 pile car up sounds insane!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Good Doggies!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

How does a city the size of Ann Arbor have only seven snow plows?

Basic Bob

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:12 a.m.

We know where the money went. To all the double-dippers who took public jobs in other cities while they collect generous retirement benefits from Ann Arbor. Sue McCormick, Neil Berlin, and all the other former department heads and city managers have moved on where they can collect pensions and health care for life, not just from Ann Arbor but from multiple employers. Also all the other retirees who got last minute promotions, raises, and accumulated sick time in their last year to unfairly (but legally) increase their pensions. But hey, we must have thought these crooks were worth it to reward them so handsomely. Especially since it seems to be the best qualification to get a job here - retired from someplace else and only interested in working long enough to pay off the second castle.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:01 a.m.

Looks like Ypsilanti will be done first. Banjo tune playing in background.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:56 a.m.

Because our City Council members prefer little blue lights (that seldom work) on a piece of steel downtown, rather than take your taxes and pay for better city services like clearing roads after snowfalls, and having enough firemen and policemen and/or firewomen/police women I know , I know...they are different get rid of the buckets!!

music to my ear

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

I say the u of m can buy A2 a few five trucks what do you all say.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:25 a.m.

NO, we don't all believe in less government. I, for one, think it might be worthwhile spending more on snow removal.

michael Limmer

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:05 a.m.

We all believe in less government, and this is what it looks like. Get over it, or move to Taxachusetts.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2 a.m.

You get what you pay for.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

Downsizing, The parks dept went from 22 full time employees to about 7.As people retired no new hires were made. Put look who is trimming trees and cutting grass now. Non union private company's. Street maintenance...same of the same.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:40 a.m.

They spent all the money for road maintenance on ART.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 12:50 a.m.

Nine people and seven trucks? That's it for A2? No wonder we have such poor maintenance during the winter.

Julie Baker

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

We just posted an update with some information from the road commission and other area first responders. You can read that here:


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 11:08 p.m.

Leave it to the government to spend money on wasteful stuff--like those electric signs that tell you not to drink and drive (which everybody knows by now) and less money on stuff that could really help prevent accidents.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

If "everybody knows by now" not to drink and drive - can we assume there will be no more horrific alcohol-related accidents? Good luck with that.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

Yup. Need more plows and salt and personnel. This part of the country limps through storms and doesn't take snow removal seriously or professionally. They only do the minimum. Anyone else in the country know of a city that doesn't plow until 4" of snow falls? How ridiculous is that. It's on the aa city website. What a ridiculous policy.

In doubt

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Please give the road trucks some credit. There is only so much that they can do against the wind. They can clear, it it blows right back over.....or the wind freezes it right back over. We all know that some snow on the roads can be safer than trying to clear them in some instances. I hope everyone stays safe out there. Don't go any faster than safely possible, even if it is a crawl. Crawling home is the better alternative to not making it home! Saying prayers for everyone out there on the roads, especially the road crews, police and emergency response people!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

yep. St. Christopher, pray for us(think gregorian chant)!

John Counts

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

To the best of our knowledge, the county does not have a similar plow tracking system. Calls to Washtenaw County Road Commission officials have gone unreturned so far today -- likely because they are out in the field working on snow removal.

John Counts

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

The road commission's director of operations, Jim Harmon, returned my call not long after I posted this. He told me the county does not have a tracking system because they don't have the money in their budget to implement such a system.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

or because no one answer the phone anymore.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 11:01 p.m.

They have a lot of administration over there who could call you back if they wanted to. I don't believe they man any trucks.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

Here's the link to the snowplow tracker: Currently three plows being tracked. FWIW, when I was out before 10 this AM, before snow, a truck was spreading salt liberally down Newport Road and then west on Miller.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

Only 3? No wonder the conditions are so bad on the city streets.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Check out the AAA live site. Note where the red roads are mostly....around Ann Arbor. Interesting.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

glad you are home commenting and not on the roads cuz obviously you are old. thanks for keeping me safe


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

No surprise there.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10 p.m.

It's Michigan. It's a little bit of snow. This happens every year at some point. Stop blaming the road commission and learn how to drive safely in the snow. And stop tailgating and trying to keep up with me. I have four wheel drive and can take off normally, but I can't stop very well. I'm going slow so I don't slam into the car in front of me. To whomever rear ended me today, I'm sorry your car is severely damaged and you were in such a hurry that you didn't have time to stop and see if I was OK. You'll be glad to know that I think I can buff out the minor scuff on my rear bumper.

Ann English

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 12:11 a.m.

With rear-end collisions, it seems that the hitter always gets more damage than the car that was hit.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.

When its "warm" just below freezing, a little salt goes a long ways but if they are not out there salting the roads, then yes its partly the road commission fault. If public works can not handle it, then hirer a private contractor. Gosh they got millions in funding, where is that money being spend--on those fancy electric signs that tell you the next freeway is 15 mins away and you get there in 5 mins ?


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

Yes - "...learn how to drive safely in the snow" and rain and fog... In addition to slowing down for poor weather conditions, safety includes clearing your car windows, turning on your headlights and using your turn signals.

John Counts

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

The page on the city website where you can track the plows is here:


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

Just a nitpick on the report: I assume the writer meant the section of M-14 running across the north side of town... but isn`t that section also North of US 23 as well as "south of US 23" ???

Ed Kimball

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

Oldguy, that section of M-14 is also US 23, neither north nor south of it. The two routes share the highway on that stretch.

John Counts

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

I've changed this to "eastbound M-14 near U.S. 23" for accuracy. The locations of all the accidents reflect what was told to me by dispatch who usually have a general, not pinpoint precise, location of accidents, especially on crazy driving days like today.

John Counts

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

justcurious: The city of Ann Arbor has an online tracking system that you're talking about it. We reported on the system last year in this story: The system can be found here:


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

It doesn't track the county plows on the freeways. Only the City plows. I don't especially care about city plows because I don't live there.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10 p.m.

Does it track the County snow plows?


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

The only positive thing right now with the roads is because of the holiday break for a lot of people, the number of cars on the road is relatively low. I was just out a half-hour ago and the roads are pretty bad - at least out in Scio Township. Definitely, the best advice is just to stay inside with a good book, movie, and a hot cup of coffee/chocolate/tea.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

Maybe we need to have tracking devices on the snowplows and make the map public so that we know where they are. U of M has that system for their buses. I left at noon, headed east on 94 and saw one plow in the median loaded with salt just cruising and another getting on at Jackson road, also loaded with salt. The scanner is going crazy with accidents on the freeways mostly. I don't know how HVA can service all of them.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Wow, a lot of people do not like this comment. So snowplow tracking, St Nick tracking and everything else is now all on line? Priceless.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 1:34 a.m.

i do


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

You mean like this?


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Some how I knew you would be on hear bashing them. The accidents couldn't be because of the drivers maybe its ALL the Road Comissions fault. Here we go. So the point is to your story is what??? You saw trucks. Well that is good. Did you follow them all over to see what job they were doing. Cuz I bet they were doing their jobs. So sit back and listen to the scanner and stop bashing about something you do not know about.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

I would really appreciate it if everyone could avoid Earhart-Geddes-Huron Parkway-Washtenaw between 5:00 and 5:30 pm while I drive home from work. If everyone cooperates I should complete traversing that route by 5:30. Feel free to use these roads after 5:30 pm. Thank-you in advance for your cooperation.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

Ha ha!! Best comment on here! And I totally agree. If everyone else would just get off the road so I can get where I want to go it would make things so much easier!!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:58 a.m.

School is out for another week, won't have to deal with them.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:41 a.m.

HAHA!! Good one! You have a funny sense of humor. I wish all those drivers with bad or bald tires would stay OFF the roads because they even have trouble staying on flat roads, and Ann Arbor area has lots of hills around! Oh.. and also those young drivers who think they are immune, but don't really know how to drive in the slippery snow! ...and that includes the older drivers who still haven't learned to be cautious and slow down in snowy weather!!

music to my ear

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:42 a.m.

does that mean you will be picking up the kids too since I cannot go that way, king of the road lol.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 11:35 p.m.

Gotch a2citizen. Will leave after your commute!


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

Made it. Thank-you to everyone who cooperated. I leave for work about 7:45 am. if the roads aren't clear you know the drill.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

Will do A2Citizen. You are welcome. Have a safe drive.

Bob W

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Good one. :o)

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

No problem. I've cancelled my plans for the area. Glad i could help. If more folks were proactive like this it would be so much easier. ;)

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Airport hotels are probably full of folks who can't get out to get home, but when you have to fly, the best bet is to grab a room in one of these places and not have to worry about getting there in the bad weather. Even if it costs you a night's lodging, it beats taking a chance on the roads.

Farm Girl

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

I would love nothing better than to just get a room and stay in town so I wouldn't have to deal with the idiots on the road. However, my horses and puppy would probably be really upset if I don't come home to feed them and the puppy definitely can't wait until tomorrow night to go outside!! Here's hoping most of the people are off the road in a couple of hours.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

Biggest issue is lousy drivers. Watched a neighbor stomping on the case spinning up their driveway, trying repeatedly. Much easier to go back to the road, get a slow start, and go up SLOWLY...

Ann English

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

It sounds like your neighbor should downshift, as well as get some momentum first.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

So true, but then it people always love to blame the City or the Road Commission. Never the drivers fault. Its the trucks aren't where I need them. It's RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, WHERE I DRIVE. Nevermind the rest of the county/city.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

I was out from 12:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. and only saw ONE ( 1 ) salt truck. Carpenter, Packard, Eisenhower all very slippery - I thought maybe they were all on the highways and then read this article about all the accidents on the highways. I don't get it, they knew it was coming...


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

" I don't get it, they knew it was coming..." Do you mean "they knew I was coming? a2citizen had it right. Be proactive. Also leave a little extra time for your commute.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

I'm going to defend Elena to an extent on this. Several Detroit area road commissions were out before the snow started putting brine down on the roads. Putting brine down lowers the freezing temperature of the liquid on the roads, reducing the icing effect on the roadways. Yes it is possible to fight the snow and ice before it falls. With all of that said, I think the road commissions have gotten everybody they can get out on the roads out. There is a limited capacity of trucks and workers available, but from everything I've heard, the road commissions have EVERYONE on call to work today, so they are prepared as much as they can be from a staffing standpoint.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

There have not been cutbacks....The salt trucks are for sure out. There are 2 shifts and lots of guys. There is also alot of ground they have to cover. So they may not be right where you are. Give them a break. They are out there though.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

I understand what you guys are saying, however, I had to be out due to work and my concern was that for all the area I covered, I only physically saw one salt truck. Maybe there have been cutbacks, I don't know. I don't expect them to be out before the snow falls, but it would be nice to see them when it does.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

The trucks are out there like I said. Not much they can do but fight with mother nature. They plow/salt once its covered over a few minutes later. Can't even tell they were there. It happens. Doesn't mean they aren't doing their job though. Just slow it down or stay home.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

Not sure how knowing it was coming would be that helpful. They can't really plow BEFORE the snow lands, can they?


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Thanks to the sheriff dept, police and emergency workers for all their hard work. If you don't have to go out, stay home - its a mess out there.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8 p.m.

Time to slow it down people. Stay in if you don't need to go out and give yourself plenty of tiem to get where you need too. No need to rush. Be cautious and aware of the other drivers. Arrive safe and not dead. And please watch out and give the snow plows (Road Commission) room to do their job.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

The Road Commission has fine, experienced drivers, just not enough of them for all of the miles they need to take care of, please give them room to do their job, they do the best they can with what they have. Perhaps there would be more experienced drivers if a hiring freeze would have been lifted this summer. Drivers could have been hired, trained and ready for winter conditions instead of buying vacant property for a new yard in the future.

Bob W

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

More often than not, folks forget it 's not how fast you can go in this weather, but rather how fast you can stop. This is not a big blizzard and not likely the last storm of the season.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Common sense will prevent you from being the cause. No chance of getting out of the way of senseless out of control drivers in a hurry unfortunately.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

It's the same every year. I don't know if its new drivers, overconfidence in their front/four wheel drive thinking it will stop just as fast as they can gain traction to get the vehicle moving, or everyone has horrible short term memory. But its always the same every year. BTW, very little chance of getting killed in this weather as most folks aren't traveling a high rate of speed. They usually skid off the road or into someone else before they can get enough momentum going to where they will do more harm then the vehicle will protect them from.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

If I had to commute of of town to go home tonight I'd just keep a hotel/motel rm. and just stay. These first snow falls are always the worst for traffic. By the morning the roads will be safer to travel, hopefully.

Laura Jones

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Just drove in from Detroit - the roads were not bad until I hit 23. What a mess, unplowed and unsalted. Not a plow in sight either. What is the deal? It's not as if there wasn't plenty of warning.

Laura Jones

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:21 a.m.

i would think that highways would be a priority over other streets. US 23 is a major thoroughfare. I am not "bashing" the road commission, but asking a very legitimate question. Proper road cleaning is a science, not an art. It requires specific logical methodology to be done well, and that is what I am questioning. Since I travel the highways it is of a great deal of concern to me. I see no reason whatsoever to sit quietly by and be thankful for s shoddy job done on my dime. Maybe that works for you, but sorry, not for me. It was illogical to have 23 North and South so completely uncleared and not salted at 1:30 - 2 this afternoon, under very heavy traffic and sliding cars. If it requires higher taxes to have safer roads, I am all for it.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

That cost money


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

...and art.


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Saving money for the dog parks!


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

The snow plows are out there. Just because they are not where you are doesn't mean they aren't working. Give them a break. They will be working extemely hard in the next few days. People need to respect the Road Commission, They may not like them. But they are very much needed when snow storms like this come around. That goes for any an every snow plow company, person, City or Road Commission. They don't deserve the bashing.

Tom Joad

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

I might not occur to you to just stay home. And please don't block crosswalks to make a right on red. Pedestrians should not be forced to walk around your vehicle: YOU MOVE.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

mr. joad, it is mindsets such as this one that give the rest of us pedestrians a bad reputation!!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 6:24 a.m.

Amen! Every day, people speed up when it's already red, then get stuck in the middle of the intersection for half a cycle. If I were to walk across intersections downtown based only on the walk signal, i'd either walk into a car or get hit by one with alarming regularity.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 3:12 a.m.

Drivers are majorly annoying for the most part. They do not pay attention of pedestrians. Hence, right-turns on red should not be allowed. It is dangerous for pedestrian and bikers.

music to my ear

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

you guys!!!!!!


Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

Cars have the right of way on the roads, not people. YOU MOVE! And make sure you walk quickly across the street, so you don't hold up traffic!

Michigan Man

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Left A2 at 10:15 AM this morning and made it all the way to Chicago with NO snow. Easy drive - must have left at the right time - very easy 4 hour drive.

MD from ChiTown

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

Same here!!!