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FAQs

Q: Why is my road always the last one plowed after a snowstrom?

A: The Road Commission organizes snow plowing operations to service the most heavily traveled roadways first during and after a winter storm. About 370 miles of county primary roads and certain high traffic local roads in the urban area are plowed and/or salted first. After those roads are passable, crews move on to clear local paved roads throughout the county. Typically, local subdivision streets and rural gravel roads are cleared after all other higher traffic roads within about two days after a winter storm. Extended winter storms or continuing winds may require crews to continually plow the main high traffic roads and prevent them from reaching subdivision streets or rural gravel roads for several days.


 

Q: What is your mailbox policy for winter maintenance?

A: If a plow physically strikes a mailbox or post, it is the property owners responsibility to bring in the damaged mailbox and/or post for replacement. If the weight of snow from the plow damages or knocks your mailbox down, please understand and cooperate by replacing it yourself. Your mailbox is on the road right-of-way and is permitted by the Road Commission as a convenience to you.


 

Q: What are "all season" roads?

A: So called "all season" roads are those that have been designed and built with additional strength and durability to withstand truck traffic loads all year long, and thus they are not subject to the reduced loading restrictions that are placed on most roads during the early spring in Michigan.


 

Q: I have noticed some intersections in the county have concrete curbs. How does the Road Commission decide which roads receive curbs?

A: For Township projects, it is typically where a primary road intersects a primary road. An exception to this would be a primary road intersection with a local road that maintains high traffic volumues or high commercial truck traffic. For state/federal funded projects, typically all road intersections are constructed with concrete curb and gutter.


 

Q: I don't want you to spray my roadside with herbicides. What can I do to prevent this from happening?

A: You can have the road commission exempt your frontage from our spraying program by contacting our office and obtaining a "No Spray Permit". As a condition of the permit, however, you will need to cut and trim the brush along your frontage back away from the road at least to the ditch line and perhaps farther near road intersections and on curves or near driveways. The Road Commission encourages residents to maintain their own roadsides for safety, and can assist you in removing any larger trees near the road that may be a problem. Unfortunately, we are not able to use labor intensive or hand trimming methods on the many miles of county roadside that we maintain.


 

Q: People are always speeding on my road. How can I get the speed limit lowered and some signs put up to slow them down?

A: The Road Commission is the agency that installs and maintains all traffic signs on county roads. State law requires that the Road Commission must follow the requirements of the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD) or risk losing state funding for road maintenance. In order to install regulatory type signs like no parking signs and speed limit signs, the Road Commission must initiate a traffic study of the road in conjunction with the Michigan Department of State Police (MDSP). The study includes a review of traffic counts, accident history, speed studies, the character of the area along the road and any other information available regarding the problems in the area. While the Road Commission is a participant in the traffic study and analysis, the guidelines of the MMUTCD and judgement of the Michigan Department of State Police largely determine what speed limit will be adopted. At the conclusion of the study the MDSP issues a written Traffic Control Order directing the Road Commission to install traffic signs at specific locations on the road, and to record the completed Traffic Control Order at the County Clerk's office.


 

Q: How can I get a Children at Play sign put up to protect my children?

A: The Road Commission no longer places or maintains Children at Play signs, although there are still several of these signs scattered throughout our road system. Prior to the revision of the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD) in 1983, these signs were acceptable for use on county roads. Studies done nationally leading up to that revision demonstrated conclusively that, while these signs may make parents and children feel safer, they have absolutely no effect on driver behavior, and do not slow traffic speeds as might be expected. The best policy is still to be sure to keep children as far away from the road as possible, and do not allow even older children to play in or near the road. Although we do not encourage their use, the Road Commission will issue a permit to a resident to install their own children at play sign near their home. There is no charge for the permit but the resident must agree to accept responsibility to place and maintain the sign in a safe manner.


 

Q: What percent of the county road system has a paved surface?

A: Of the 1156.87 certified miles, 467.23 miles (40.4%) are paved and the remaining 689.64 (59.6%) are gravel.


 

Q: I was told by the Road Commission that my gravel road receives approximately 200 vehicles per day. How does that rate compare to heavy or light volumes for local gravel roads?

A: By definition from American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO): A very low volume local road is a road that is functionally classified as a local road and has a design average daily traffic volume of 400 vehicles a day or less. Furthermore, a local road is a road whose primary function is to provide access to residences, farms, businesses or other abutting property, rather than to serve through traffic. Although, some traffic may occasionally use a local road, through traffic service is not its primary purpose. The term local road is used here to refer to the functional classification of the road and is not intended to imply that the road is necessarily under the jurisdiction of a local or municipal unit of government.


 

Q: I noticed that in Isabella County, the edge (fog) lines are painted at the same time as the center line on paved roads but other counties do not do this. Why is there a difference?

A: It is totally up to the road authority which has jurisdiction over the roads. In Isabella County we can paint centerline and edge (fog) lines for about $800.00 per mile and that will be repeated every 3 years. Safety is the major factor in Isabella county. When dense fog blankets low-lying areas of the county, the painted edge (fog) lines become our best aid in maneuvering safely (at reduced speeds).


 

Q: What is the price tag for a new 10 yard maintenance truck?

A: With county specifications and ready for the road, they range between $105,000.00 and $110,000.00.


 

Q: Speed limit signs are typically white with black lettering. Why are some speed limit signs, particulary those under curve ahead or crossroad signs, yellow with black lettering?

A: Yellow speed limit signs are known as advisory speed plates. Advisory speed plates are used in conjunction with any standard yellow warning sign to indicate the maximum recommended speed based on curve design or accident history for that particular intersection.


 

Q: What is a common regulatory sign that seems to be a problem for some drivers, besides speed limit signs?

A: A stop sign. Stop and give the right-of-way to pedestrians and all cross traffic before moving forward. You must stop behind the marked or unmarked crosswalk that joins sidewalks on opposite sides of that street, or behind a marked stop line. If there is no pavement markings or crosswalk, stop before entering the intersection where traffic coming from all directions is visable.


 

Q: I heard that townships turned over road jurisdictions to county road commissions years ago. Is that true?

A: Yes, the McNitt Act of 1931 allowed townships to release 20% of their roads per year, starting in 1932 and ending in 1936. The 5 year period gave road commissions total control of township roads.