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Road conditions are improving but the going remains slow

Kent County Road Commission

The heavy snow has led to the closure of Michigan’s state government with the exception of offices handling critical functions. The same goes for county governments in West Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Transportation and county road commissions have all hands on deck working to clear roadways.

“We’ve got all available steel is on the road. All the counties, all the cities are hard at work right now. They’ve been busy since, you know, the wee hours of the morning last night. So, it’s going to continue on into this evening.”

John Richards is communications director for Michigan Department of Transportation Grand Region.

“Once the storm starts crews are out there until basically until it stops. And since it is so cold things are staying dryer and snow’s coming up off the road a little bit easier. If it were in the 20s and we were putting salt down then things would get wet and they might refreeze, but because it’s so cold we’re just using dirt and it makes it a little bit easier for crews to plow the roads because everything is so dry and nothing is sticking.”

“The freeway system, 50 mph, a pretty safe speed, the vast majority of the snow has been scrapped off, sill icy but you’re going to have icy conditions when you’re at 10 or 12 degrees.”

Jerry Byrne is Kent County Road Commission Deputy Managing Director of Operations. He tells me 90 trucks are out making progress on the county primary and local systems.

“They’ve been making multiple passes on those. I think they’re travelable for people that have front wheel drive or good tires on their cars.”

Byrne explains with the temperatures and the nature of the storm the approach clearing roadways is a little different.

“We tell the employees get as much of the snow scrapped off the main roads. Because we’re not putting down de-icing chemicals we’re not trying to melt it off or burn it off and get it back to normal speeds, get into the locals, make sure folks can get home.”

Winds are causing drifting on rural county roads. If you do need to head out drive with caution.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.