Winter Maintenance

Winter Maintenance

Snow Removal Operations

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

Salt Management Plan

Mailbox Damage

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 Policy Shake Your Mailbox Mailbox Installation Policy Snow Deflector Information


Over time roadways deteriorate and develop cracks and other defects. Snow and moisture pass through the cracks and seep into the underlying gravel base and sub-soils. The cold weather causes freezing and expansion of the moist gravel and sub-soils. As a result, the asphalt surface rises up in places in the road. This is called frost heave.

In the spring, the temperature begins to rise, the ground thaws, and the gravel and sub-soils settle leaving air pockets under the pavement. Vehicles driving over the air pockets and weakened pavement force the asphalt surface to collapse, creating a pothole.

The Road Commission utilizes two methods to patch potholes.

The first, Cold Patch, also known as cold asphalt, is the most common method to fill potholes because it can be applied right from the truck without heating. Cold patch also does not require any special heavy rolling machines or special applicators as it can be shoveled into the pothole.

Cold patch is not dependent upon warm weather. Road crews like cold patch because it retains its pliable properties when the temperature drops, so it can be used year round.

The second, Dura Patch, is a method that utilizes specialized equipment to patch potholes instead of workers with shovels, tampers and cold patch. The Dura Patch system cleans the area with compressed air, applies a tack coat, sprays the emulsion/ aggregate mix into the pothole with sufficient force to compact the material as it is applied, and then follows with dry aggregate to prevent lifting.

Dura patch is dependent upon warmer weather and is typically only used in the late spring, summer, and early fall months.

If you notice a pothole, please contact our office at 616-842-5400 to report the pothole location or utilize our online service request form.


Dead Animal Disposal

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 typically only dead deer will be picked up from the road right-of-way.

To inquire about dead dear disposal, please contact our office at 616-842-5400 or utilize our online service request form

State regulations regarding the disposal of dead animals can be very confusing. For more information on dead domestic and wild animal disposal, please contact the Ottawa County Health Department at 616-396-5266.

Winter Safety Tips

Remember…Ice and Snow, take it Slow!”

State law prohibits residents or businesses from plowing snow, ice, or slush onto or across roadways or highways. In addition, snow must not be piled to obstruct motorists’ vision. Snowplows operate by pushing snow to the right. So when clearing your driveway, pile snow to the right of your driveway (as you face the road), keeping road shoulders clear; this will help reduce the amount of snow pushed into or in front of your driveway.

  • Be sure your windshield is clear of ice and snow, washer fluids are full, tires have proper air pressure and tread, and your vehicle is equipped with essential emergency equipment.
  • Posted speeds are for ideal road conditions. Michigan law requires motorists to drive at a “careful and prudent speed” in all conditions. Reduce speeds and increase following distances.
  • Accelerate and brake slowly and avoid over-steering.
  • Brake carefully, applying constant pressure (don’t pump anti-lock brakes).
  • Beware of ice patches and “black ice”. Bridges and overpasses freeze first.
  • If your vehicle becomes disabled, be sure to use flashers and mark the vehicle so that it can be seen clearly by passing vehicles and snow plows; if it becomes necessary to abandon the vehicle call”911” to indicate the location of the vehicle.
  • Avoid distractions such as talking on your cell or texting.
  • Always wear your safety belt and ensure that all passengers are properly buckled, and children are in appropriate child-restraints.
  • Do not attempt to pass snow plow vehicles while they are plowing. Never attempt to pass a snow plow on the right.
  • Do not crowd the plow! Plow drivers have limited visibility and they cannot see directly behind their trucks.
  • Please be aware that snow plow trucks may back up at intersections.

CRA Winter Maintenance Tips

Ottawa County Road Commission
14110 Lakeshore Drive • Grand Haven, MI 49417
P: (616) 842-5400 • F: (616) 850-7237