Everyone is ready for ‘Old Man Winter’

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 19, 2012

MACOMB COUNTY — Harrison Township, Mount Clemens and pretty much all of Macomb County is ready for the impending season and all that it brings.

Last week, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and officials from the county’s Department of Roads announced that they are ready for winter and sent a message reminding motorists to keep safe while on the roads, especially when those massive plows and salt trucks are out and about.

“Cautious driving is always the best way to keep safe on our roads, especially during the winter months,” said Hackel. “Ice can be present anywhere, even after salting and plowing, so it’s important to slow down on the roads and limit other distractions, such as cellphones.”

In order to handle the more than 1,800 miles of roadway in the county, the Department of Roads has more than 48,000 tons of salt on hand and a fleet of 80 salt trucks equipped with underbody plows, 14 wing plows and 13 salt spreader combination units ready for another winter season, said Director Bob Hoepfner.

And with those massive machines on the streets, Hoepfner said motorists should never pass a moving snowplow on the right because snow being thrown to the side can prevent drivers from seeing the plow blade and cause serious accidents. Both motorists and pedestrians need to be aware of this and keep clear from these trucks.

“We have fewer drivers than in years past, and drivers can only be on the roads for a certain number of hours before a much-needed break is required,” said Hoepfner. “But we have other department staffers, retirees and newly trained contract employees that are on call if needed for the more serious winter storm events.”

During such events, Mount Clemens City Manager Doug Anderson said it’s a good idea for residents to keep themselves abreast — whether it be through the city’s public access channels, their website or by calling — to changes in emergency status, specifically if he or Mayor Barb Dempsey issue a storm emergency, which means cars must be removed from the streets by a certain time.

“Vehicles should be removed from major streets within six hours and from local streets within 12 hours,” said Anderson, adding that the major roads are always cleared first.

Mount Clemens’ Department of Public Services is responsible for salting and plowing all the city’s major and local streets, including north and south M-3, for which they are reimbursed by the state. The county, he said, is responsible for maintaining Cass Avenue.

Mount Clemens has 10 trucks that take on the task of salting icy roads and plowing snow-covered streets, and they only go out during those times when snowfalls is predicted to be significant and after 4-6 inches of snow falls.

Anderson said the city is prepared because not only did they save on salt last year because of the generally mild winter, they also ordered 1,200 tons in August, all of which was delivered in September.

“We are ready,” he said.

So is Harrison Township, said Supervisor Kenneth Verkest.

But in townships like Harrison, it’s the county’s responsibility to clear snow from only the major roadways first, followed by local roads, and it tends to take some time to get to all of them.

“There is a process they go through; sort of by priority, if you will,” he said. “We do receive calls (asking when residential streets will get plowed), and we tell them there are services we all pay tax dollars for, but they all flow to the county and not the township. Most of the residents do understand.”