Following are basic answers to your
questions. Please contact our office for official answers.
Q: Our gravel road is
a muddy mess! Can you do something to stop this
A: We can try, and we do
try, but, in the spring when the frost comes out of the
roadbed, what was once frozen and solid turns soft and
unstable. It will remain this way until the moisture
comes out of the roadbed. The best cure for this is
warm, dry temperatures and a good wind. If we
attempt to haul gravel on top of this condition, it could
turn it into a bigger mess. There is a saying in the
trade that "adding a bucket of gravel to a
bucket of mud just gets you a bigger bucket of mud."
There is much truth to this quip, as adding sand or gravel
to fill a mudhole usually has little or no effect because
the gravel ends up mixing with the mud, just making more
mud and sometimes aggravating the problem as equipment
stirs things up.
Q: Now that the frost
is out, why are you pulling in the sod and making a huge
mess on the gravel roads?
is that time of the year for maintenance necessities that
people don't necessarily like. People think we are making
a mess, but what we are doing will be better for the road.
Road commission crews pull
shoulders on gravel roads in the county every spring
before the grass begins to grow on the side of the
road. This maintenance is being done to reclaim
gravel that has been pushed into the shoulder as well as
remove the berm on the roadside which keeps the water from
flowing off the road.
We lose a lot of gravel either from rain washing it off
the road or from vehicles kicking it up from normal
driving. By doing this the road commission can save
thousands of tons of gravel.
The process of pulling shoulders involves a couple
of steps. A tractor with a retriever (disk),
or motor grader, goes through and pulls the berm into the
center of the road. Next a truck grader
"beats" the gravel out of the sod and mixes it
with existing gravel.
This isn't a thing that's done in one day.
It can be a two-week process. The graders do come
back on a regular basis to check on it and regrade as
Q: It snowed last
night, when will my road be plowed?
A: Snow removal is done
on a priority system. State highways, such as M-57, M-66,
etc., have the highest priority, then primary roads (main
connector roads such as Sidney Road, Stanton Road, etc..),
followed by local roads, which many people refer to as
"township" roads. When your road gets cleared,
depends on the type of road you reside on.
Q: Your truck knocked
down my mailbox! When are you going to fix it?
A: Mailboxes are
sometimes knocked down by road commission trucks when
plowing snow. The Road Commission's policy is to replace
mailboxes that have actually been hit by the snow plow;
however, if the mailbox or wooden post was broken off from
the force of the snow coming off the plow blade, we do not
replace or repair it. Please call our office and we will
check into the problem.
county truck threw a stone into my windshield - is the
Road Commission going to pay for it?
A: Contact your
insurance company to see if you have applicable coverage
before contacting our office.
Q: Do I
need to get a permit to put in a new driveway?
A: Normally the answer
is yes; however, it is always advisable to contact our
office and your township zoning board. Anytime a person or
business does any construction work in the road
right-of-way (normally 66 feet - 33 feet each direction
from the center of the road) the should obtain a permit.
live on a gravel road, and I can't leave my windows open
because of the dust - what are you going to do about it?
A: The townships pay for
the application of chloride on local roads in their
township, and each township contracts with the Road
Commission to take care of this. The majority of the 20
townships in Montcalm County contract four applications of
chloride each summer (one per month); a few townships
contract for only one or two applications spread out over
the summer. The Road Commission has privatized the
application of chloride on county roads to a private
contractor. The contractor also applies chloride for other
counties, and we must work with the contractor's schedule.
gravel road I live on is full of holes - when are you
going to grade it?
A: In the summer, roads
are always graded prior to having chloride applied. In
addition, we try to blade gravel roads after it rains and
the road has softened up. In the winter, there is not much
we can do until the frost is out of the roads.
do I get a culvert for a driveway?
A: The Road Commission
is not a supplier of driveway culverts. As a property
owner you must obtain your driveway culvert from a local
vendor. The only instances where we install driveway
culverts is when we are doing a major ditching or
construction project on a road.
close to the road can I plant my shrubs or trees? How
close to the road can I install a fence or put up a
A: Normally the distance
is thirty-three feet from the center of the road; however,
there are exceptions depending which road you reside on;
so please call our office. Also, you should check with
your township office for local zoning requirements.
does the Road Commission get its operating funds?
A: The Road Commission's
main source of funding is the Michigan Transportation Fund
(MTF) which is comprised of gas and weight taxes and
driver's license fees and is distributed by the state
through a formula. In addition, the townships contribute a
large amount of money to the local road system in each
township. The Road Commission does not receive property
People are always speeding on my road. How can I get the
speed limit lowered and some signs put up to slow them
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
judgment 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
specific signs at specific locations on the road, and to
record the completed Traffic Control Order at the County
Q: How do I get a
"Children Playing" sign put up to protect my children?
A: The Road Commission
no longer places or maintains Children Playing 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. To the extent that
the signs might make parents or children think they are
safer when the danger is still present, these signs can
actually reduce safety. The best policy is still to be
sure to keep children as far away from the road as
possible, and don't allow children to play in or near the
Q: Why did you spread
all that tar and gravel on my paved road? There was
nothing wrong with the road, and now its a mess!
A: The process you are
referring to is sealcoating, which most road agencies in
Michigan use as a relatively low cost method of preserving
existing pavements. The tar is actually an emulsion
of water and liquid asphalt which penetrates and seals
small cracks in the existing pavement. Sealing these
cracks on a regular basis prevents water from seeping into
and softening the base of the road and over time causing
potholes to form. The crushed stone that we use for
cover material sticks to the emulsion and, after rolling
and sweeping, provides a slightly roughened skid resistant
surface to improve safety. Although sealcoating can
preserve and extend the life of the pavement, it is only a
surface treatment and does not fill any existing bumps,
holes, or irregularities and thus does not improve the
ride quality. For this reason it is important to
apply sealcoat to a road BEFORE this deterioration occurs,
which leads us to sealcoat roads that are in generally
good condition rather than waiting for them to deteriorate
to the point that extensive patching is necessary.