Resources

General Questions

How does the Road Commission receive funding?

There seems to be a common misunderstanding that the Road Commission receives funding from property taxes. The Road Commission does not directly receive any property tax revenues other than funds that are authorized and paid by a Township for a specific project or service.

The Road Commission receives revenues from the State of Michigan through Public Act 51 of 1951 which guides the State in the collection and disbursement of the fuel tax, vehicle registration, and vehicle weight taxes that are to be deposited in the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) The funds the Road Commission receives from the MTF are primarily utilized to maintain the county certified road system.

Understanding Road Funding

What are “All-Season” roads?
“All-Season” roads are those that have been designed and built with the appropriate width and pavement thickness to withstand truck traffic loads all year long. Thus they are not subject to the Seasonal Weight Restrictions that are placed on most roads during the early spring.

Roads not constructed to “All-Season” standards are subject to a reduction in allowable loading and speeds during the period each spring when thawing of the ground below the road softens the roadbed and makes the surface susceptible to damage from heavy loads.

As a general rule, primary roads are constructed to all-season loading standards. However, there are a few primary roads that require reduced loading during Seasonal Weight Restrictions. All residential subdivision streets, most local roads, and all gravel surfaced roads in Ottawa County are subject to a 25 percent reduction in allowable loading when Seasonal Weight Restrictions are in effect.

Seasonal Weight Restrictions are very important for the longevity of roads. The Road Commission employs 2 weighmasters for enforcement of Seasonal Weight Restrictions on county roads.

For more information on Seasonal Weight Restrictions in Ottawa County and throughout Michigan, visit Michigan County Roads.

Where and what type of mailbox can be installed in the right-of-way?

The location and construction of mailboxes shall conform to the rules and regulations of the U.S. Postal Service and the following Ottawa County Road Commission standards. These standards are based on guidelines established by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

LOCATION

The roadside face of the mailbox shall be offset 8 inches from the outside edge of the road shoulder. On curbed streets, the roadside face of the mailbox shall be set back 8 inches from the face of the curb. On residential streets without curbs, or on all-weather shoulders which carry low-traffic volumes and which operate at low speeds, the roadside face of a mailbox shall be offset 24 inches behind the edge of the pavement. Where guardrail is present the mailbox shall be placed behind the guardrail with the face of the box even with the back of the rail. Where a mailbox is located at an intersecting road, it shall be located a minimum of 100 feet from the intersection.

STRUCTURE

Mailboxes shall be constructed of sheet metal, plastic or similar weight materials, with weight not to exceed 11 lbs. No more than two mailboxes may be mounted on a support structure unless the support structure and mailbox arrangement meet American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standards. However, lightweight newspaper boxes may be mounted below the mailbox on the side of the mailbox support or on a separate post alongside. A single 4-inch x 4-inch or 4-1/2-inch diameter wooden post or a metal post with strength no greater than a 2-inch diameter standard strength steel pipe and embedded no more than 24 inches into the ground will be acceptable as a mailbox support. Mailbox supports shall not be fitted with an anchor plate (metal post) nor shall they be set in concrete. The post-to-box attachment details should be of sufficient strength to prevent the box from separating from the top post if the installation is struck by a vehicle.

VIOLATIONS

Any mailbox that is in violation of these regulations shall be immediately removed by the owner upon notification by the road commission. If the owner has not removed the mailbox, the road commission, in accordance with M.S.A. 9.251, will issue the owner an Encroachment Removal Order, whereupon the owner will be granted 30 days to remove the unacceptable mailbox. Thereafter, the mailbox will be removed by the Road Commission at the owner’s expense.

How are roads selected for paving?
The Road Commission continuously evaluates road conditions to identify replacement, repair, and maintenance items. Project lists are developed with priorities based on the evaluation of data such as:

  • PASER Road Ratings
  • Traffic Volumes
  • Capacity and Congestion Issues
  • Accident History
  • Maintenance Problems
  • Funding Sources

Each year the Road Commission gathers input from local governmental officials, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO), and the general public to determine improvement needs and develop a 6-year Strategic Improvement Plan.

Improvement needs not included in the Strategic Improvement Plan are typically addressed through the recurring, day-to-day maintenance activities by the Road Commission.

Since 100% of the costs associated with resurfacing or other surface treatments applied to Subdivision Streets have been paid by the Townships and/or residents, the Township’s determine which Subdivision Streets are selected.

Permits

What is a right-of-way encroachment?

Michigan law prohibits the placement of any object, except authorized mailbox mountings, within the county road right-of-way unless that object is permitted by the Road Commission.

In many instances, property owners or contractors place fences, rocks/boulders, trees/shrubs, earthwork (including berms), signs, or other objects within the road right-of-way as a measure of improving landscape. However, these fixed objects often become hazards to errant motorists, vision obstructions, or interfere with road and public utility improvements.

The Road Commission asks for everyone’s cooperation in keeping the road right-of-way free of all potential hazards and future road and public utility improvement conflicts.

Right-of-Way Encroachment Policy

When is a permit required for work within the right-of-way?

In accordance with Act 200 of the Public Acts of 1969, any activity or use of county road right-of-way other than for highway travel purposes does require a permit from the Road Commission.
A permit is required from the Road Commission for any and all work being conducted within the road right-of-way whether it is by a contractor or a property owner.

Some examples of work that typically require a permit are:

  • Adding or improving a driveway approach
  • Adding, improving, or maintaining a public or private utility
  • Adding or improving a sidewalk or non-motorized path
  • Adding storm water to or improving a roadside drainage system
  • Surveying and other engineering operations
  • Placing a banner, decoration, or similar object
  • Closing a section of road for a parade, celebration, festival, demonstration, or similar activity
  • Grading or excavation, landscaping, tree planting, tree trimming or tree removal
  • Any construction activity that impacts storm water runoff into or around county road right-of-way
  • Standard mailboxes are allowed without a permit in the road right-of-way.
Why are concrete drive approaches not permitted on non-curbed roads?

The Road Commission is no longer permitting the placement of concrete in the right-of-way for new or reconstructed driveways on non-curbed roads.

During summer or winter maintenance operations, such as plowing snow or grading the shoulder, the equipment may catch the edge of the concrete with the snow blade or grading devices. This could cause injury to the driver and damage to the equipment.

The restoration or replacement of concrete driveways for reconstruction, resurfacing, or other improvement projects, typically will increase project costs by delaying the progress of the work to allow for proper curing, as well the fixed cost of placing concrete instead of other approved materials.

Can trees be planted in the right-of-way?

The Road Commission established a county-wide Tree Planting Policy to balance the benefits that trees can provide, the desires of the community, and related safety concerns.

The policy depicts tree planting locations as it relates to the type of road, number of lanes within the road, and the speed limit. The policy will allow tree plantings from 28 to 32 feet from the centerline of 2-lane primary roads and 27 to 30 feet from the centerline of 2-lane local roads.

Why are weight restrictions placed on county roads each spring?

Seasonal weight restrictions are legal limits placed on the loads that trucks may carry. Roads thaw out from the top down each spring, and moisture is trapped on the surface. Heavy loads cause the deterioration of gravel and bituminous surfaces during this thawing period. During late winter and early spring when seasonal thawing occurs, the maximum allowable axle load and speed is reduced to prevent weather-related deterioration of roads.

Seasonal Weight Restriction Status (CRAM)

How do I…

How do I make a service request?

Service requests can be made by calling our main office during normal business hours at (616) 842-5400 or the online service request form can be utilized.
The online service request form is easy to use. Simply provide your name, email, telephone number, address, township, and the type of service requested with an approximate location. The Road Commission has received thousands of electronic requests.

Most of the requests are for pothole repair, but other maintenance items such as washouts, ditching, and tree removals are submitted as well. Traffic concerns and traffic control inquiries can be submitted online.

The online requests are opened each business day and then given to the appropriate department for a field review. Usually within a few days, a response is given to the requestor or the service has been performed.

Submit a Service Request

How do I make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request?

As a governmental agency, the Road Commission is required to comply with the Public Act 442 of 1976, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

If you are interested in obtaining documents that fall within the requirements of the FOIA, you may submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in writing to the Ottawa County Road Commission, 14110 Lakeshore Drive, Grand Haven, Michigan 49417, Attention: FOIA Coordinator.

Please be advised that upon receipt of a FOIA request, the Road Commission has five business days in which to respond (six business days if received via fax or email), in accordance with the Act, and the requesting party will be charged for research time and copies of any documents requested. If an extension of time is necessary in order to fulfill a FOIA request, the Road Commission will notify the requesting party in writing, at which time an additional ten business days will be permitted to the agency, in accordance with the Act.

How do I request a road abandonment?

The procedures for requesting a Road Abandonment Request Process and Form can be downloaded.

Who is responsible for…

Dead animals in the road
The responsibility for picking up and disposing of dead animals has been a long-running debate. Surprisingly, there is no statutory requirement for any agency in Michigan to perform this service.

Animal control authorities and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDRE) have both stated they have no authority on the issue. Citizens usually call the local road agency to pick up the dead animals. While most road agencies will not dispose of the dead animals, they will move the carcasses that pose a hazard to motorists off the traveled portion of the road.

Over the years, the Road Commission has picked up and disposed of dead animals as a courtesy service for the public. However, costs and budget constraints have limited this service to just one day a week, and only dead deer or other large animals will be picked up.

State regulations regarding the disposal of dead animals can be very confusing. The Road Commission brings dead animals to a local land fill for disposal. The costs to pick up and dispose of dead deer have ranged from $7,500 to $15,000 per year.

The Road Commission also picks up dead deer along the state highways under the MDOT maintenance contract.

Railroad Crossings
The railroad company that owns the tracks is responsible for railroad crossings. Usually there is a small metal placard located on the crossbuck (railroad crossing) sign adjacent to the track with the appropriate railroad company information.
Constructing and maintaining sidewalks and paths
The Township and/or adjacent property owners depending on the township ordinance are responsible for constructing and/or maintaining sidewalks and paths. Contact your local township office for more information.
State Highways
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is responsible for routine maintenance on all state highways. MDOT contracts with the Road Commission to maintain the state highways located in Ottawa County. These contracted services include snow plowing, pothole filling, grass mowing, sweeping, guardrail repair, and other maintenance items as directed.
Street Lights
Street lighting is lights used to illuminate roads, not traffic signals. Typically, the Township or subdivision associations oversee the installation and maintenance of this utility. Most maintenance is performed by the local electric service company.

Traffic & Safety

Who decides where and when traffic control devices are placed?
Traffic signs, pavement markings and traffic signals are the result of an engineering study conducted by the Road Commission. The Road Commission has the responsibility and authority to place traffic signs and traffic signals at locations that have met a specific list of warrants or guidelines that are found in the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD). To be effective, traffic controls should meet five basic requirements:

1. Fulfill a need,
2. Command attention,
3. Convey a clear, simple meaning,
4. Command the respect of road users, and
5. Give adequate time for proper response.

Specific warning signs for schools, playgrounds, parks and other recreational facilities where persons are gathered and may be vulnerable are listed in the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and available for use where clearly justified. The Michigan Manual has lists of traffic signs that can be used and also their proper size and installation. The Manual also describes pavement markings and their specific uses.

How is it determined to install traffic signals?
A traffic engineer makes a determination of whether a signal is or is not “warranted” based on standards of the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD). This manual identifies 9 warrants that may be reviewed in determining whether a signal should be installed.

The warrants that receive the closest review, however, are minimum vehicular volume, interruption of continuous traffic, and accident experience. The first relates to whether there is sufficient traffic coming out of the side street in question to consider stopping traffic on the main road. The second relates to whether or not the traffic is too heavy on the main road for motorists from the side street to pull out. The last is an indication that traffic on the side street is having difficulty getting out, causing right-angle accidents to occur.

The Road Commission continuously reviews intersections for all types of traffic control devices.

Why are left turn arrows provided at some signalized intersections and not others?
In general, left turn phasing has popular public support while the traffic engineering community, because of inherent traffic delays and possible increase in other than head-on-left-turn crash experience, is typically less enthusiastic about its use unless a significant need can be established. Some factors to be considered when evaluating the need for left turn phasing include: traffic volumes, intersection capacity, pedestrian volumes, traffic signal progression, crash history and left turn motorist delay.

There are two modes of left turn signal control: permitted mode and protected mode. In the permitted mode a left turning motorist is provided either a flashing red ball or a flashing yellow arrow. The driver is permitted to turn left whenever there is an adequate gap in opposing traffic. In the protected mode a left turning motorist is provided a green arrow display while opposing traffic is stopped.

Most left turn signal operations consist of a combination of the permitted and protected modes. However, there are instances where a left turn signal is operated in the protected only mode and left turn vehicles are not given the opportunity to make a permissive left turn. The considerations for installation of a protected only left turn signal include:

  • High left turn traffic volume
  • High opposing through volume
  • An existing crash history
  • Limited sight distance
  • High speed opposing through traffic
  • Left turning vehicles must cross 3 or more lanes of opposing through traffic
  • There are multiple left turn lanes

Note: The flashing yellow arrow is now the national standard for permissive left turn signal operation. All new left turn signal installations with a permissive mode will have the flashing yellow operation. In addition, existing flashing red balls will be replaced with flashing yellow arrows as traffic signals are upgraded/modernized.

How are speed limits determined and by whom?
Speed limits are established in accordance with the Michigan Vehicle Code and State Legislature.

Currently, regulatory speed limits are set by State Statue at a maximum 55 mph on county roads or 25 mph for business and residential districts. These speed limits are generally not posted on county roads.

Regulatory speed limits can be modified based on a unanimous recommendation from a traffic survey team consisting of representatives from the Michigan State Police, Road Commission, and Local Township. The recommendation is based primarily on results of a traffic engineering study that includes the collection of speed data, review of the crash history, and roadway characteristics.

The Lansing office of the State Police has to accept the recommendation of the survey team in order to establish a modified speed limit. Once approved, signs for the new speed limit can be posted.

How are locations of No Passing Zones determined?
To ensure the county road system meets motorist safety needs, nationally accepted traffic engineering guidelines are followed for placement of traffic control devices which include pavement markings. While state statute requires use of care when passing, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices provides criteria for the installation of No Passing Zones. The criteria include specifics of when No Passing Zones are needed because of limited visibility on hills and curves. No Passing Zones are also permitted for left turn bypass lanes and other unique or special circumstances. Typically, a common driveway or street intersection would not be marked for a No Passing Zone because the proliferation of the markings would lead to abuse and disrespect for the solid yellow line.
How are clear vision areas determined at an intersection?
The Road Commission attempts to keep areas near intersections clear of obstructions to provide minimum sight distance along the main street for motorists at the normal stopping point on the side street. This normal stopping position is at a point where a driver typically pulls up to view cross street traffic and is measured at 18 feet (position of driver’s eye) off the white edge line of the cross street (or the edge pavement if there is no edge line).

Please note the clear areas are provided for motorists at the normal stopping point and not at the location of the stop sign which can be further back than the normal stopping point. Also, road right-of-way may be a limiting factor in keeping the area cleared of obstructions along the main street (this can be especially true on a main street with multi-lanes).

Will a stop sign slow down traffic on my street?

Stop signs installed at the wrong place for the wrong purpose usually create more problems than they solve. One common misuse of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt traffic, either by causing it to stop or by causing such an inconvenience that motorists are forced to use other routes.

Traffic studies indicate that there is a high incidence of intentional violations where stop signs are installed as “nuisances” or “speed breakers.” The studies also show that drivers increase their speeds between unwarranted stop signs to make up for the lost time. Based on these studies and the increased speeds of drivers on streets with unwarranted stop signs, the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD) clearly states that “Stop signs shall not be used for speed control.”

A stop sign placed at the right place and under the right conditions, tells drivers and pedestrians who has the right of way.

Why don’t all stop signs have corresponding stop ahead warning signs?
Many stop signs are at predictable locations and have adequate visibility, thus do not require advance warning. To provide uniformity throughout the county we use the following guidelines in establishing the need for a stop ahead warning sign:

1.) The view of the stop sign is limited due to a horizontal or vertical curve in the roadway.
2.) There is a distance greater than or equal to 1.5 miles from the previous stop condition.
3.) There is a pattern of Fail-to-Stop type crashes at an intersection that may be corrected through the installation of a stop ahead warning sign.

How are signs for road construction areas determined?
When a construction project impacts the normal use of a county road, warning devices such as barrels, signs, and arrow boards are placed in accordance with a traffic control plan.

The basic objective of a traffic control plan is to permit construction work within the county road right of way in an efficient and effective manner, while maintaining a safe, uniform flow of traffic.

The construction work and motorists, bicycles, and pedestrians traveling through the work zone must be given equal consideration when developing a traffic control plan. Each traffic control plan is developed to be consistent with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

The Road Commission relies on the cooperation of various news media in publicizing the implementation of major road closures and detours as a method of keeping the public well informed.

Can a speed bump be placed on my street?

A speed bump is a bump of asphalt about a foot wide, 3 to 4 inches high, and placed laterally across the traveled portion of the road. However, the speed bump poses as an increased hazard to motorists, the cause of an undesirable increase in noise, and a real problem for snow removal.

The purpose of a speed bump is to make the ride over it uncomfortable for the driver, encouraging him/her to reduce their speed. With the various vehicle suspensions and wheel bases, the speed bump has shown an inability to successfully control speeds.

Speed bumps can cause maintenance problems to any vehicle and increase response time for emergency services. Because speed bumps have considerable potential for liability suits, Michigan has officially rejected them as a standard traffic control device on public streets.

The control of speeding in neighborhoods is a widespread concern which requires compliance by residents, patience and persistent effort by law enforcement – not speed bumps.

Can a Children at Play sign be placed on my street?

At first consideration, it might seem that a Children at Play sign would provide some safety for youngsters playing in a neighborhood. Unfortunately, this type of sign encourages parents to believe that children have an added degree of protection; which the signs do not and cannot provide.

Studies have shown that this type of sign provides no evidence of reducing pedestrian crashes or vehicles speeds. Obviously, children should not be encouraged to play in the roadway. The Children at Play sign is a direct and open suggestion that it is acceptable to do so.

Federal standards discourage the use of this sign and they are not even recognized in Michigan’s traffic sign manuals. As an alternative, the Road Commission strives to remove vision obstructions to provide a safe roadway for both pedestrians and motorists.

Can I place Handicap, Deaf, Blind, Special Needs Child, or Pedestrian Area warning signs on my street?

The use of Handicap, Deaf, Blind, Special Needs Child, or Pedestrian Area warning signs is limited to situations and locations meeting approval of the Ottawa County Road Commission.

Requests for such signs shall be made in writing and include a physician’s certification/letter indicating extent of handicap. The requesting party will also need to advise the Road Commission on an annual basis as to the continued need of these warning signs.

The number and location of these warning signs will be determined by the Road Commission and generally will be limited to the roadway serving the handicap person’s residence.

The installation cost will be the responsibility of the requesting resident and all costs to maintain sign(s) will be paid by the Road Commission.

Can I get a Deer Crossing sign installed on my road?

Because deer crossing signs have shown to be of little or no value in reducing motor vehicle/deer crashes and the scattered nature of the problem, we do not inventory or install these signs nor do we allow the installation of these signs within the public right-of-way by others.

Summer Maintenance FAQs

When are gravel roads graded?

In the summer, roads are graded prior to having dust control materials applied. In addition, the Road Commission tries to grade gravel roads after it rains and the road has softened up. Unfortunately in the winter and spring, there is not much that can be done until the frost is out of the roads.

To inquire about having a road gravel road graded, please call our office directly at (616) 842-5400 or utilize the online service request form.

The Road Commission will respond as quickly as possible, however at times, road grading must be postponed due to weather conditions or coordinated with dust control applications. If the road is too dry or too wet, grading has little effect other than to re-arrange dust or mud.

How can dust be controlled on a gravel road?

One of the drawbacks of gravel roads is they are prone to giving off dust. Road dust is made up of fine particles that are important to the stability of the road. As a road dries out, the fines blow away, breaking down the gravel road. Daily traffic scatters the remaining coarser aggregates that have become loose; causing potholes, ruts, washboard, loss of profile, loss of ditch lines, and other problems.

Keeping the road moist helps fines adhere to each other and to aggregates, allowing for optimum compaction. There are several different types of products that help control dust and retain moisture. The most commonly used are:
Calcium Chloride is a man made solution generally at 26% to 35% concentration.
Mineral Well Brine is a naturally-occurring salt water that is pumped from the ground.

When applied to gravel roads, both the chloride and brine products draw moisture from the air and ground. This moisture binds the materials in the road, reducing the amount of dust that becomes airborne and providing a better driving surface.

The Township will select a contractor, purchase a dust control material, and determine the frequency and location of applications. The Road Commission will then grade the gravel road prior to the contractor’s placement of the dust control material. A tank truck with a rear distribution bar is typically used to spread the liquid dust control evenly over the road.

Contact the local Township office to request or inquire about dust control applications.

Why is ‘tar and gravel’ placed on some paved roads?

This process is referred to as seal coat or chip seal.

Today’s technically advanced seal coats are economical surface treatments designed to protect and prolong the life of pavements. In a single seal coat process, an asphalt binder is sprayed onto the pavement, then immediately covered by a single layer of uniformly sized aggregate. The new chip sealed surface is then rolled to seal the aggregate to the oil and swept. Usually a week or two later the road is swept again and a fog sealant is sprayed over the aggregate.

A seal coat is a perfect tool for pavement preventive maintenance. Seal coats provide a quick, reliable and economical surface treatment that will seal out the damaging effect of water, help to increase skid resistance, improve aesthetics and delineation, and provide a new wearing surface to protect the pavement for years to come.

How do I get a tree removed or trimmed within the right-of-way?

Requests for the Road Commission to remove or trim trees or other vegetation within the county road right-of-way will be reviewed and must meet some or all of the following criteria:

  1. The tree or vegetation is within the county road right-of-way.
  2. The tree or vegetation is determined by the Road Commission to be a potential public hazard, vision impediment, or drainage obstruction.
  3. There are no buildings, utilities, or other obstructions too close to the tree as determined by the Road Commission.
  4. The tree is dead, dying, or weakened.

If the Road Commission completes a review of the request and determines there is an immediate danger to the public; the tree, limb, or vegetation will be scheduled for removal as soon as possible. Otherwise, the request will be handled as time and resources allow.

Tree trimming and removal by the Road Commission is generally done in the spring and fall of each year.

Live mature trees are typically not removed by the Road Commission unless they have a high probability of being struck or as necessary in conjunction with road improvement projects or other permitted activity.

If the adjacent property owner or their contractor wishes to trim and/or remove trees/vegetation within the county road right-of-way, a permit application shall be obtained from and submitted to the Road Commission for review and approval.

To inquire about having a tree removed or trimmed, please call our office directly at (616) 842-5400 or utilize the online service request form.

Why is shoulder work done on gravel roads in the Spring?

Road commission crews pull shoulders on gravel roads in the county every spring before the grass begins to grow on the side of the road. This maintenance is done to reclaim gravel that has been pushed into the shoulder as well as to remove the berm on the roadside which keeps the water from flowing off the road.

We lose a lot of gravel either from rain washing it off the road or from vehicles kicking it up from normal driving. By doing this the road commission can save thousands of tons of gravel. The process of pulling shoulders involves a couple of steps. A tractor with a retriever (disk), or motor grader, goes through and pulls the berm into the center of the road. Next a truck grader “beats” the gravel out of the sod and mixes it with existing gravel. This isn’t a thing that’s done in one day. It can be a two-week process. The graders do come back on a regular basis to check on it and regrade as necessary.

Winter Maintenance FAQs

Which roads are plowed first?

Winter maintenance activities include applying salt and sand, as well as plowing snow on roads and shoulders. During a typical year, the Road Commission will respond to approximately 50 winter maintenance callouts, and will use about 20,000 to 25,000 tons of salt, and 14,000 to 18,000 tons of sand. The cost of winter maintenance can easily be up to $3.7 million annually, depending upon inclement weather conditions and the duration of the winter months.

A policy was developed to provide cost effective winter maintenance operations and to inform the public about the level of winter maintenance services for roadways maintained by the Road Commission. Winter maintenance operations are conducted in accordance with the established priority system based on traffic volumes, road classification, and location. The priorities are as follows:

1 – State Trunklines
2 – Multi-lane Primary Roads
3 – Primary Roads
4 – Local Paved Roads
5 – Subdivision Streets
6 – Local Gravel Roads
7 – Dead End Streets and Cul-de-sacs

Winter Maintenance Operations Policy

What do I do if my mailbox is damaged?

If a mailbox is damaged by Road Commission equipment or snow thrown from Road Commission equipment during winter maintenance operations, the property owner may receive a new standard mailbox and/or a single 4”x4” wood post at one of the garage locations.

The property owner is responsible to remove the damaged mailbox/post and to install the replacement mailbox/post.

The locations are open Monday through Friday, except on holidays or observed holidays established by the Board. Appointments are made between the hours of 7:30AM and 3:30PM. Please call (616) 842-5400 for an appointment.

The property owner shall provide either the actual damaged mailbox/post or a photo of the actual damaged mailbox/post before a new standard mailbox and/or a single 4”x4” wood post can be issued. Upon receipt of a new mailbox and/or post, the property owner shall sign a register and provide the property address.

Mailbox Damage & Replacement Policy

What should I keep in mind when shoveling/plowing driveways?

Homeowners should be aware that shoveling or plowing snow from driveways onto or across roads is illegal (Act 82 of 1978, vehicle code 257.677A) because it can present a serious traffic hazard to motorists.

Instead, pile the snow behind the curb or shoulder on your side of the road. Be sure to place snow to the right as you face the road, so plows will push it away from, rather back into, the driveway entrance. It is also important to avoid vision obstructions. Care should be taken not to impede the flow of stormwater from melting snow in the ditches or culverts.

Citizens should also make certain that their trash containers are not placed too close to the edge of the road before snow removal has taken place.

Can salt be put on roads and bridges before it snows?

Putting salt on the road surface prior to a snowfall generally will waste time and money. Salt will not adhere to a dry road during application and the portion that manages to land in the right location is subject to wind or traffic which blows or pushes it off the road before it can do its job.

Salt is most effective after snow has accumulated and the temperature is 20° Fahrenheit or higher. Under these conditions, the salt and snow will mix, melting snow into a slush that can be plowed off the pavement. (This melting action generally occurs within two hours, less if traffic is present.)

If the temperature is below 20°F, the salt will have difficulty melting thesnow and ice, so other methods are typically used.

Abrasives (like sand) are often put down for traction. Calcium chloride or other liquid treatments can be added to enhance the ability to melt the ice and snow.

The Road Commission may change the mixture of salt and additives based on the ground temperature.

Why do bridges and overpasses freeze before the surface of the road?

Even while the air and road surface temperatures drop, the heat underneath the road keeps it warm enough to delay icing as temperatures drop below freezing.

Bridges have no way to trap heat and are exposed to cold air on all sides, so they continually lose heat and freeze shortly after air temperatures hit the freezing point.

A bridge will follow the air temperature very closely. If the air temperature falls below freezing, a bridge’s surface will fall below freezing very quickly causing rain or snow to freeze and stick to the road surface.

The Road Commission will place liquid anti-icing materials on bridge surfaces when the temperatures are expected to be between 15°F and 35°F. If the surface is wet, then a 60/40 salt to sand mixture is treated with the liquid material (called pre-wetting) and then placed on the bridge surface.

Once applied, both treatments can last up to 72 hours.

Is it legal to pass a snowplow?

There are no state laws that prohibit passing a snowplow. However, the action of passing can be extremely dangerous because pavement conditions vary across the path taken to pass. Snowplows may be equipped with wing plow blades that can extend anywhere between 2 and 10 feet beyond the width of the truck. This wing plow blade is often not seen because of the snow cloud being kicked up by the snowplow. These wing plows can often weigh as much as a compact car.

Why does the Road Commission place wooden stakes on some streets before winter?

The Road Commission installs wooden stakes to mark the edge of pavement prior to the first snow event. The stakes are typically installed at intersections or curves that are difficult for the snow plow drivers to judge. These stakes may break off after a couple of plowing operations, but they do serve a purpose in establishing appropriate plowing limits.

Can I place stakes along my property during the winter?

Recognizing that property owners may be concerned with possible parkway damage resulting from our snow removal activities, the Road Commission approves on a seasonal basis, installation of snow plow markers within the right-of-way by abutting property owners.

Typically the markers should be placed a minimum of 2’ from the pavement edge and never closer than area mail box supports. The markers should consist of an aluminum support and reflector commonly available at hardware stores, or wooden stakes not larger than 1”x2”x30” high. The top 9” of the wooden stakes should be covered with fluorescent orange paint for visibility. Maintenance of the markers and their spring time removal is the property owner’s responsibility.

Note: The placement of metal stakes along the road right-of-way is prohibited at all times.