Prepared: ACRC to increase night staff on area roads this winter

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Antrim County Road Commission employee Shawn Traylor is shown with one of the mountains of salt the Road Commission has stored in three salt barns for use on the county's roads this winter.


MANCELONA – The bad news is, with 33.5 inches of snow recorded as of earlier this week, winter appears to have arrived several weeks early in Antrim County.

The good news is that the Antrim County Road Commission is not only prepared and ready for the winter ahead, but has added an extra driver to its winter night shift, putting four drivers and trucks onto the county's primary highways at night.

"We have always had three drivers on throughout the county on two different night shifts," said Road Commission Manager Burt Thompson last week. "This year we've added a fourth driver that will operate out of our Kewadin garage and cover the Kewadin and Elk Rapids areas."

With the added driver, the ACRC is also increasing its nighttime level of winter service on state highways and the county's major county primary routes, Thompson said.

All four drivers will be on the county's roads at night until sometime in April, depending on the weather, he noted.

In other road commission news, several retirees were replaced in the past year with new personnel, three salt barns are full, and delivery of two new plow trucks is expected in the next couple of months.

"The trucks are being outfitted for service now," said Thompson.

Both trucks feature a new type of sanding box that carries the sand mixed into the salt for improved vehicle traction.

"These boxes are much more versatile – they can be put on the truck or taken off in a matter of minutes," he explained. "We're very hopeful they'll work out."

Once again this year, Thompson plans to be conservative on salt use.

"We have all we need for right now, with 3,800 tons in the barns, and 1,200 tons on order for later this winter, but with prices at an all time high of $80 a ton – up from $77 a ton last year, which was a big jump over the year before – we don't want to waste it," he said.

The increase in salt pricing has put a dent in the budgets of all road commissions throughout the state, Thompson said.

"The salt company doesn't have much competition, so we don't have much choice.

"When it snows we don't use a lot of salt, so if we're going to have winter, we hope for snow," he said. "It's freezing rain that kills our salt supplies. We did have a little bit left over from last winter, so that will help, too."

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