County road agencies remain on the job

In keeping with their responsibilities to the residents, drivers and commercial businesses using the 90,000 miles of roads under county responsibility, the County Road Association of Michigan this morning indicated that all 83 county road commissions and departments remain on the job.

“While I would say it’s definitely not ‘business as usual’ in our offices, the staff at county road agencies are an essential government service and we are committed to maintaining our transportation infrastructure in service to the public,” said Dave Pettersch, managing director of the Gladwin County Road Commission and president of the County Road Association of Michigan.

“Many road agencies are closing their doors to walk-in traffic – depending on how the office is set up.  Yet our employees are on the job blading and maintaining the roads, working on drainage issues typical of spring, and communicating with the public while respecting the social distancing concept that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Pettersch said.

Maintaining public contact without contact.  Several road agencies contacted indicated they are taking steps to reduce person-to-person contact including:

  • Cancelling nonessential meetings,
  • Establishing conference call capabilities to accommodate public involvement in board meetings;
  • Updating social media with important information; and
  • Communicating via emails, US mail and phone calls, among other steps.

Residents are urged to call ahead if they have business with the county road agency to determine the best way to achieve their goal.

Protecting, assisting employees.  As with all businesses, county road agencies are currently considering some or all of the following options:

  • Posting bulletins, training staff and making materials available to clean frequently touched surfaces including steering wheels, doorknobs, countertops, keyboards and work stations;
  • Evaluating which staff could work remotely and how to accommodate those with children out of school or daycare; and
  • Moving in-person meetings to conference calls or on-line platforms.

Evaluating seasonal weight restrictions to accommodate COVID-19 relief.  At present, 59 counties still have seasonal weight restrictions (SWR), which are implemented each March to protect local roads from excess weight during the spring thaw when roads are most vulnerable.  That said, individual road agencies are working to exempt motor carriers and drivers that need SWR relief so that they may provide direct assistance related to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by the motor carrier or its drivers to allow immediate restoration of essential services including medical care, food supplies and the like.

The 83 members of the County Road Association of Michigan represent the unified voice for a safe and efficient county transportation infrastructure system in Michigan, including appropriate stewardship of the public’s right-of-way in rural and urban Michigan.  Collectively, Michigan’s county road agencies manage 75 percent of all roads in the state, including 90,000 miles of roads and 5,700 bridges. County road agencies also maintain the state’s highway system in 64 counties. Michigan has the nation’s fourth-largest local road system.

Leave a Reply