November 6, 2009
I don’t know about you, but once the first of November gets here, I start thinking about the inevitable –winter. When will it get here? How bad will it be? How much snow will we get and when is the first big snow storm going to hit? This year, getting around during the winter could be a bit more challenging than in past years. Last week, SEMCOG hosted a forum on Winter Maintenance with local road agencies and cities discussing their revised procedures for dealing with winter storms in light of decreasing revenues. All agencies agreed that clearing snow from our roads and streets is going to take longer this year. There are several reasons we are in this situation.
MDOT has said that their budget for winter maintenance has remained constant over the past few years – but the price of salt and gas has increased dramatically. The result is that those dollars won’t clear as many miles of snow as quickly as they once did. In addition, we have experienced higher than normal levels of snowfall over the past couple of years, causing agencies to exceed their budgets to move the snow removal.
This is not just an issue at the state level, but at the local level as well. Decreases in funding has also resulted in some county road commissions and cities having to cut back on the number of employees they have to go out to move the snow and ice and salt the roads. Oakland County, for one, indicates that while they once had 190 employees available to move snow – they only have 150 today. This means that it will take longer to clear and salt streets than we have become used to.
So what do we do? Well, SEMCOG will be developing some winter driving tips for you to consider during this winter season – it’s not rocket science though. Consider the following:
- Stock up on groceries in good weather so you don’t have to travel in storm conditions
- Ask your employer if you have an option to telecommute on snowy, icy days
- Start out earlier and drive slower – you will get there – but get there safely
- Only make trips you have to make and
- Pray that we get less snow
We can all get through winter if we prepare now – not just by getting our snow blowers ready, but by retraining ourselves on the level of services to expect for the dollars we are willing to spend.