The department uses an average of 50,000 tons of salt each winter.

The department uses an average of 50,000 tons of salt each winter.

Photo provided by Macomb County Department of Roads

Macomb County Department of Roads ready for snow

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 4, 2021


MOUNT CLEMENS — When Old Man Winter took a tentative step into the season, the Macomb County Department of Roads was ready.

“Michigan’s unpredictable weather impacts our roads, residents and community. Road safety and winter readiness are top priorities for Macomb County,” said Bryan Santo, director of the Macomb County Department of Roads, in a press release. “We work relentlessly to ensure our winter operations maintain a safe and driveable road system for all Macomb County motorists and visitors.”

Eric Dimoff, public information officer with the Macomb County Department of Roads, said that the county purchases new tandem axle, single axle and semitrucks for the four Macomb County service centers in Washington Township, New Haven, Clinton and Shelby townships each year. Altogether, the department’s fleet includes more than 100 snowplows, salt trucks and graders.

“That’s just part of our routine purchasing to keep our fleet up-to-date with new technology and new equipment,” he said.

The department is responsible for maintaining 1,773 miles of county roads and more than 1,100 miles of subdivision roads over the 4,400 miles of roadway in Macomb County. The county typically uses more than 50,000 tons of salt each winter. In 2020, it spent more than $6 million on winter maintenance for primary, local and state roads.

“We start with the state trunk lines and primary roads, and then we work our way down to the residential roads,” Dimoff said.

Depending on the severity of the storm, the county may contract with a private company to clear residential roads in the townships; cities are responsible for their own roads and will clear residential streets when they have finished main roads, as well.

“It’s really based on the conditions,” he said. “We have drivers out there during winter events, monitoring. We put drivers and trucks (out) based on the conditions.”

Dimoff recommended that residents with street-side mailboxes make sure they are secure before so much snow flies that street plowing is necessary.

“Ahead of the winter season, we encourage residents to go out and shake their mailbox to make sure it can handle snow that may be thrown onto the mailbox from the plow truck,” he said. “It’s not our responsibility. From time to time, some heavy snow may fly off a truck and may push over a mailbox if it’s not properly installed.”

Before drivers get ready to hit the snowy roads, the department encourages them to remove all ice and snow from their vehicle to prevent it from flying off their car while they’re on the road. Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles is also important because it can take three to nine times the distance to stop on icy roads as it does in dry conditions.

Leave extra time to get to a destination in treacherous road conditions to allow for slower driving conditions, the department recommends. Drivers are also encouraged to remain alert and give snowplows plenty of room as they are out clearing the roads.