Kent Co. Road Commission’s plan of attack for winter storms

(file photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With highs in the upper 60s to finish out the week, it’s becoming harder to believe it’s past mid-November in West Michigan. But soon reality will set in and the first snow will begin to fall.

The Kent County Road Commission, along with all the road commissions throughout West Michigan, has plans in place to help keep roads cleared for drivers.

Kent County has the second largest road commission in the state, behind only the east side’s Oakland County. They’re responsible for nearly 2,000 miles of roads.

“The process is all the state trunk-lines — the 131’s, the M-21’s — any of the state trunk-lines are staffed 24/7 when it’s snowing so those are always going to get service,” said Jerry Byrne with the Kent County Road Commission.

In an effort to beat the morning rush, more plow drivers are brought in at 4 a.m. to attack the county roads like West River Drive, 4 Mile and 68th Street. When they can, they move onto the subdivisions.

There are a total of 90 drivers running 12-hour shifts in the day, 30 at night.

Obviously the worst time for a storm to hit is rush hour.

“Just like they can’t get around in rush hour, we can’t get around either. Absolute worst case scenario is between 6 and 9 in the morning and 3 and 7 at night,” Byrne said.

Byrne says the plows are only moving at 25 to 35 mph, even when on the highway, so drivers need to be careful as they approach them.

Also half the fleet at Kent County has a wing plow which sticks out six extra feet on the right when they are using it.

“While that truck is taking up the full 12-foot lane that wing is going to be out there another six feet, so you don’t want to pass on the right because chances are you are going to run into that wing.”

One final thing to remember, we’re all in this thing together.

“So you’ll just have to have patience because we can’t drive any faster than that and effectively clear the road safely,” said Byrne.