Late-season snow no problem for road commission

ALPENA – The Alpena County Road Commission was ready and waiting for Thursday and Friday’s ice and snow storm. Once it became apparent poor weather was likely, Operations Manager Larry Orcutt and his staff began readying the trucks, which still had salting units attached to them, and began work as soon as the weather began to materialize.

Orcutt said all of the trucks have plow blades on them for the entire year, but the salting units are typically removed. He said that was not the case for this storm and it helped to prepare for the ice that was forecasted.

“We always have the trucks ready to go and they have blades on them all of the time and we have salt on hand,” Orcutt said. “We knew this was coming, so we filled the trucks with salt and were ready to go.”

The trucks began to drop salt at about 6 p.m. and continued until midnight when the drivers were sent home. Orcutt said the drivers returned to work early Friday morning to continue salting and to clean up the snow that had fallen. He said the road conditions were different in certain parts of the county. He said some areas had more snow, while others had received more of the freezing rain.

“The condition varied. In some parts of the county there was the wet heavy snow and in other part it was drier,” Orcutt said. “There was a lot of ice. Even with all of the salt there was still a significant amount of ice accumulation and buildup overnight.”

Orcutt said it is hard to predict at this point if the snow and ice, coupled with the rain the area had received, will lead to flooding when the melt occurs. He said no matter what happened things are in place to handle any potential problems.

“All we really can do is react to what is happening,” Orcutt said. “We’ll monitor the roadside drainage and remedy problems where there might be flooding problems. These things are always hard to predict, but we are prepared and have handled flooding situations in the past. The forecast looks like it is going to remain somewhat cool, so maybe it will be a slower thaw. In the past when we have problem we have had a lot of snow and rain and then it turned 70 degrees and the thaw took place over a day or two. Whatever happens we’re ready.”

Before winter weather returned, the road commission had been busy grooming the gravel roads which were pitted with potholes. He said the new precipitation will undo much of the work that had been done to them.

“We were working at getting them in shape and now this will provide moisture that will make them rough one again when they dry,” Orcutt said. “It may be some time before we will be able to get back out and re-grade them.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at