Road agencies see savings if winter proves mild

Capital News Service
LANSING — With predictions of a mild winter ahead, some county road commissions anticipate that savings on fuel and road salt will funnel into spring road projects such as pothole repair. According to National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration predictions for December through February, Michigan’s winter has a greater than 50 percent chance of above-average temperatures and a 40 percent chance to be less snowy than average. In the meantime, a delayed start to colder temperatures and snowfall is giving the commissions a chance to “catch their breath” from the workloads of past winters and catch up on road maintenance, said Dirk Heckman, the manager and engineer at the Mackinac County Road Commission. Projects include brush removal, drainage ditch clearing and rebuilding road shoulders, Heckman said. “We had not been able to do this in the previous fall and early winter months,” Heckman said.

County road commissions too costly, some say

Capital News Service
LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder and some legislators want to merge the state’s county road commissions into their respective county governments. Supporters say the move could save millions of dollars for each county. But some road commissioners say underfunding the roads is the problem, and they’d like to see more revenue raised first. All but two of Michigan’s 83 counties have county road commissions that are independent from the county government. County road commissions maintain and improve local roads and bridges and have been around since the early 1900s.