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Busy weekend for road commission, with few complaints

March 5, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - During Monday's Alpena County Road Commission meeting, Managing Director Larry Orcutt said this weekend's snowstorm cost the county about $41,000 when the cost of labor equipment repair and materials are added together.

He said as the storm moved in he staggered the times his workers were to report to work, because of the snow's intensity and limited impact the plows would have until the snow relented some. Orcutt said it started snowing hard just before 10 p.m. and as a result had three truck drivers report for work just after midnight to do some maintenance on the state trunk line.

"The challenge we were going to face was we weren't going to keep up with the amount of snow that was falling. It was our goal to have minimum coverage on the system until we could be more effective, but I had a few workers come in at 1 a.m. and them supplemented them with a few more at about 5 a.m.," Orcutt said. "Then the rest showed up at 7 a.m."

Orcutt said his crews battled fallen trees on roads in more rural areas of the county, and the weight of the snow also made it difficult to move out of the roadway.

"This was some of the heaviest snow I've seen, and it caused problems," Orcutt said. "It works the equipment a lot harder, and because it is so difficult to move, you use more fuel. There were some trees down where our drivers would back the trucks up to them and bust them or nudge them enough to get by them and at least make a single path. It was tough going."

Since the storm subsided, Orcutt said he has received only a few complaints. He said people whose mailboxes were accidentally damaged and people who objected to the trucks sliding snow into the end of their driveways were the most boisterous.

"The truck would plow the snow and the weight of the snow hitting against the mailboxes would cause damage, but the trucks didn't hit them," Orcutt said. "As usual, frustration was voiced by people who has cleaned out their driveway and the truck goes by and a substantial amount of snow is put back into it. There is really no way around that happening. It is just one of the reasons we love Northeast Michigan."

In other business, the board accepted the bid of Johnson Brothers Construction to build the new salt storage facility. Johnson submitted the second lowest bid, but when Orcutt contacted the lowest bidder, several items had not been included in the original bid. Orcutt said he is comfortable hiring Johnson because they had built eight storage barns exactly like the one to be built at the road commission.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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