September 23, 2014

Road commission ready for Old Man Winter

By John Fischer
Staff writer
Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — Despite a three-percent reduction in funds from last year, the Arenac County Road Commission is prepared for the winter forthcoming.

According to Arenac County Road Commission Superintendent/Manager Blair Dyer, there are currently 3,500 tons of salt and 1,100 tons of sand stored up for winter.

“We also use a mineral solution to mix with the sand and salt,” Dyer said. “It helps to unthaw the salt and sand and keep it from freezing.

“We have all the salt and sand we can store for right now and usually that amount gets us through the winter. But sometimes, in tough winters, we’ll have to order more. So now, at the beginning of the season, we have more ordered and ready to be delivered.”

He says state roads are the first priority when the counties 17 trucks set out to clear the roads.

“We prioritize our roads based on how much traffic a road usually gets,” Dyer said. “So state roads come first, then primary roads and then side roads.”

He also says the road commission hasn’t had a new truck in five years but he added the current trucks are in good working shape.

“We have two full-time mechanics on duty,” Dyer said. “So we usually don’t have a problem with the trucks or the equipment. Any problem that comes up gets fixed pretty quickly.”

Dyer says the residents of Arenac County are much more patient than those in Monroe county, where he used to work on the road commission.

“The people down there, in the city, were always in such a hurry,” Dyer said. “It seemed like everyday someone was rear-ending one of our trucks. It’s probably just the difference between the city life and the country life.”

He does believe, though, Arenac County residents have a couple of situations that need attention, mostly for their own benefit.

“Mailboxes and garbage cans seem to be the two worst problems in the county,” Dyer said. “This is the time of the year when people should check their mailboxes and make sure they’re sturdy and strong.

“A lot of people up north in the U.P. use posts or plywood to put in front of their mailbox and use it as a shield from the snow. The snow, coming off the plow, is such a tremendous force.”

He says plow trucks travel the same route every time they go out, so residents should figure out which way they come from and install one of the suggested shields to prevent their mailbox from being wiped out.

“I’ve seen people decorate them all nice,” Dyer said. “Just make sure you have your address painted on there.

“We have a lot of problems with garbage cans getting knocked over, too. The best thing to do is to wait until the truck has went by then put your container by the road.”

He says the snow comes off the plow blade so forcefully it would knock you off your feet.

“In the U.P. they used to give little seminars to the kids about not playing in the snow banks on the sides of the road,” Dyer said. “We don’t really have the snow banks they do though, so it doesn’t seem to be a problem but just to use that as an example should help you realize how easily your mailbox and garbage can could be wiped out.”

Dyer says when you see a plow truck turning at an intersection make sure you use extreme caution because the truck backs up after it has made the turn.

“It has to back up to get the snow left on the intersection,” Dyer said. “So make sure you aren’t in the trucks blind spot and following immediately behind it when it turns.”

For more information on road maintenance during the winter, call 989-653-2411.

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