Cities prepare for winter weather on the roads

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 29, 2013

 The Roseville Department of Public Services has a stockpile of 750 tons of salt ready to go for the upcoming winter inside this dome near the DPS building. When necessary, it will be loaded into trucks and spread onto main roads, hazardous streets and bridges throughout the city.

The Roseville Department of Public Services has a stockpile of 750 tons of salt ready to go for the upcoming winter inside this dome near the DPS building. When necessary, it will be loaded into trucks and spread onto main roads, hazardous streets and bridges throughout the city.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — With ice and snow on the way, the cities of Eastpointe and Roseville are getting ready for inclement weather.

Eastpointe Building Official Mary Van Haaren said that the city has about 10 tons of salt ready to go, but exactly how long it will last before the city needs to purchase more is dependent upon the weather. This year, salt costs $41.27 a ton, and Van Haaren said the city is holding another 1,400 tons in reserve at another location.

“When utilizing salt on the road, we don’t necessary try to conserve, because using less than necessary results in roads not sufficiently protected,” Van Haaren said. “We are always conscious of the cost but don’t want to risk hazardous roads in an attempt to save money.”

Van Haaren said police usually call in and notify the Department of Public Works about hazardous street conditions that require salting. In the event of a major snowfall — generally two inches or more — the roads are split up by priority levels.

Major roads, such as Gratiot, Kelly, Toepfer, Hayes, Stephens, Beaconsfield and Nine Mile will get salted and plowed first. The second priority level consists of streets with fire lanes and school locations, which will be lightly salted quickly to clear paths for emergency vehicles. All other public streets fall into the third priority level, Van Haaren said.

“The county takes care of plowing and salting Eight Mile Road and 10 Mile Road,” she said. “The rest of the roads are the responsibility of the city.”

Roseville Department of Public Services Foreman Jeff Schmidt said they usually wait until about three inches of snow sticks on the main roads before starting efforts to keep the roads clear.

Much like Eastpointe, Schmidt said if inclement weather hits in the evening — or if road conditions deteriorate — his department usually gets a call from the police on poor road conditions. At that point, a crew will assess the situation and determine what should be done.

“It could be as simple as (salting) bridges because they freeze first, or if there is heavy snowfall, we keep an eye on the radar and call in as many people as we need,” Schmidt said. “Resources are a bit limited these days, so we do things differently.”

Roseville is fairly well-stocked for the year, with approximately 750 tons of salt stored and ready to go, though Schmidt said depending on weather conditions each year, the city usually will need to go buy more at some point and will sometimes lend salt to other municipalities that need it. Manpower and money remain the primary issues, however.

With a smaller staff and less money than in the past, he said the department has trouble keeping six or seven trucks on the roads. In the case of a storm, Schmidt said they will work to keep the main roads — Gratiot Avenue and Little Mack Avenue — clear as best they can until the crews either need to sleep or the storm passes. Macomb County handles all the mile roads, Schmidt added.

From there, the crews clear the half-mile roads, like Common Road and Utica Road, and will then do their best to keep those and the main roads clear until the storm is done. Side streets are left until snow gets to around four or five inches, Schmidt said, and crews will concentrate on salting intersections and midpoints more than the rest of the roads, though he said that what the city does is dependent on the characteristics of each storm.

“Every storm is different,” he said. “We have to address each storm depending on their needs.”

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