FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What material is used to treat the roads during the winter months, and for what purpose?
We never put down dry salt. Our paved roads are treated with a liquid that consists of a brine (containing calcium chloride and a little magnesium chloride) mixed with approx. 30% organic (a beet bi-product). The liquid does several things: 1. it greatly reduces the amount of salt that bounces off the road; 2. it begins to melt snow and ice immediately; 3. it reduces the overall amount of salt needed because of the efficiency and effectiveness at melting snow and ice; 4. the organic material is relatively sticky so the salt and brine stays on the road longer; 5. the organic material makes the salt and brine less corrosive than mixing it with plain water.
We also use sand on our roads when we experience an ice storm. Sand is also used gravel roads because salt does not work on them.
How much does it cost to reconstruct a road, per mile?
The average cost to reconstruct a road in 2018 was around $275,000.00 per mile.
How are speed limits determined on county roads?
A common misconception is that the Road Commission has the authority to install speed limit signs at its discretion. Before a speed limit sign can be posted, a joint speed study must be conducted involving the Michigan State Police and the Road Commission. As of November 9, 2006, a new Prima Fascie Law was adopted allowing speed limits to be set according to road type and access points. An engineering study may still be required. Watch the Michigan Department of Transportation's video about establishing realistic speed limits. Informative Video
How can I request a change in the speed limit?
Contact your Township Supervisor to put in a formal request. Your Supervisor will contact the State Police and Road Commission who will then consider a joint speed study which would include the type of road, number of access points, and their proximity to each other, and determine whether or not the speed should be changed.
What causes a pothole?
A pothole occurs when water seeps into small cracks in the pavement freezes and thaws. The expansion cycle process causes the potholes to grow. Informative Video
How do I get a "Hidden Driveway", or other specialty sign installed?
Contact your Township Supervisor to inform them of your request for a specialty sign. Although several "Children Playing" signs remain throughout our road system the Road Commission will longer place or maintain these signs. Prior to the 1983 revision of the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD), these signs were acceptable for use on county roads. Studies done nationally leading up to the 1983 revision conclusively demonstrated that, while these signs may make parents and children feel safer, they have absolutely no effect on driver behavior, attention or reduced speeds as might be expected. To the extent that the signs might make parents or children think they are safer when the danger is still present, these signs can actually reduce safety. The best policy is to keep children (and pets) as far away from the road as possible, and do not allow children to play in or near the road.
What does the Road Commission do with my property tax?
Nothing! Contrary to popular belief, property taxes do not come to the Road Commission.
Our main revenue source comes from the Michigan Transportation Fund as a result of the purchases of gasoline and diesel fuels. Revenues also come from vehicle registration renewal which is shared with the Secretary of State for administration and processing the vehicle data. The fees collected fund MDOT, 83 county road agencies, cities and villages with road systems and public transit.
Will the Road Commission pick up dead animals on the road?
The Road Commission will only dispose of dead deer on the roadways. You may call our office at 231-347-8142 ext. 0 to make us aware and we will send someone as soon as they are available.
My street light is out, who do I contact?
Contact the township in which the street light is in to report it. If there is a traffic signal out, call the Road Commission.
What is the road Right Of Way?
The road Right Of Way is typically 66' feet wide (33' each way from the road center line). Some roads have more or less than the typical 66', to verify please call or email the Road Commission.
How do I get a culvert for a driveway?
The Road Commission is not a supplier of driveway culverts. As a property owner you must obtain your driveway culvert from a local vendor. As with any and all work to be done in the road right of way a permit is necessary.
Do I need to get permission to put in a driveway or upgrade my existing driveway?
Yes. You need a permit from the Road Commission to do any type of work in the road Right Of Way of the County roads.
Can I move snow from my driveway to the ditch across the road?
No. Per the Michigan Vehicle Code section 257.677a which reads, "...a person shall not remove or cause snow to be removed, snow, ice or slush onto or across a roadway in a manner which obstructs the:
1) "safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle" - meaning, you must not create or leave high banks along the edge of the road. 2) "or on any roadway or highway" meaning, all snow coming off your personal property must remain on your property. Snow removal operations must NOT leave piles of snow in the road or ridges on the road.
Will the Road Commission replace or repair my mailbox that the plow hit?
If the county truck came in physical contact with your mailbox there is a reimbursement policy. If your mailbox was damaged by snow that was thrown from the passing plow the Road Commission does not repair or replace the mailbox as we can't control the way the snow falls from the trucks while trying to make the roads safe to drive on. Mailbox Reimbursement Form
Is it okay to park on the side of the road if my driveway is filled with snow?
No. The Road Commission needs to plow the whole road. If your vehicle is in the road when the plow comes by it could be towed.
Can I cut down a tree at the edge of the road by my property?
Yes, however a permit from the Road Commission is required, typically at no cost.
When will my road be plowed?
As priority for motorist safety, ECRC performs maintenance on the roads with high traffic usage and speeds first. Snow removal crews typically address roadways in the following order:
State Highways - per the priority system provided by the Michigan Department of Transportation
County Primary Roads
Local Paved Roads
County local gravel roads, lake drives, subdivision streets
Please note that, depending on snowfall consistency and drifting from high winds in more exposed areas, ECRC may have to return to the state highways and primary roads before plowing local roads and streets. ECRC targets one pass on all county roads, in as timely a manner as possible, during inclement weather.
Where can I pick up Adopt-A-Road bags?
Adopt-A-Road bags can be picked up at our office at 2265 E. Hathaway Road, Harbor Springs, MI 49740.
Why is the snow plow operator driving so fast considering the road conditions?
It might appear at times that the snow plow operator is driving too fast for road conditions. While operators drive safe and at legal speeds, at times the snow plow operator needs to “roll” the snow to remove it from the road. A sufficient speed needs to be maintained by the driver to do this and clear the street. Typically, a snow plow drivers travels at a speed of 35 MPH or less.
Why do you sometimes salt instead of plow, or plow instead of salt?
Different types of storms require the use of different snow-fighting techniques. The decision whether to salt or plow depends upon the expected weather conditions. For example, if the temperature is below 20 degrees and not expected to rise, salt will not be effective. But if the sun is shining and the temperature is 20 degrees or more and expected to remain steady or to rise, then salt would be more effective. The decision whether to plow or salt is made with great consideration and based on the latest weather information available. Plowing under the wrong conditions can create a polished street surface, resulting in dangerous glare ice. The decisions made by an experienced crew and supervisory personnel are critical.
I saw a plow truck parked in a parking lot during a bad snowstorm. Why was it there instead of on the roads working?
Snow plow operators take pride in clearing the streets on their routes as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Driving a snowplow is demanding, tiring work. Common sense and good safety practices dictate that each driver should take a 30-minute break every six hours. It is dangerous, both for the snowplow driver and the public, if a fatigued driver is behind the wheel of a snowplow. It is in the best interest of the all concerned for the drivers to take occasional breaks.
Why do snow plow trucks sometimes just ride around when it's not snowing?
There are a few reasons why you might see plows on the roads on snowless days. Every driver undergoes pre-season training. Skills must be sharpened and routes need to be learned and relearned. The trucks may be scanning the county for secondary cleaning (cleaning the roads where vehicles were parked during the plowing of the roads). The trucks can be salting main break areas that are out of their view, or other problem areas.
I live on a gravel road and I can't leave my windows open because of the dust - what can be done about it?
The townships pay for the application of dust control on local roads in their township, and each township contracts with the Road Commission to take care of this. The Road Commission bid out the application of dust control on county roads to a private contractor. The contractor also applies dust control for other counties, and we must work with the contractor's schedule.