Road commission taking next step to replacing garage

LINCOLN – The Alcona County Road Commission will advertise a request for proposals from architects and engineers willing to design a new maintenance garage as quickly as possible.

During their regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, Managing Director Jesse Campbell said the road commission’s insurance company will pay up to $1.28 million to replace the old 15,000-square-foot maintenance garage that burned to the ground Sept. 28.

The commissioners also have $554,000 salted away in a new building fund, but want to protect that amount in case other issues come up.

Campbell said the concrete pad the 1930s era building stood on was deemed unusable. The heat from the fire was so intense, the pad expanded, riddling it with hairline cracks. No additional insurance money is available to replace it.

“We get $1.28 million if the concrete is good. We get $1.28 million if it’s bad,” he said. “If we pull it up, we’re going to have to pay for it.”

Although the road commission’s insurer will pay for demolition, Campbell estimated a new pad will cost around $200,000. But in discussion, commissioners said they were worried there would be additional expenses if the ground under the slab was contaminated.

Commissioner Harry Harvey, who also heads the Alcona County Building Inspection Department, said a square building would be the least expensive and the fastest to build. Roofing heights need to vary to conserve the cost of heating and yet allow the huge trucks to be raised on hoists so mechanics can work on them.

“If we could build a building without asking the taxpayers for a little help, that would be nice,” he said.

The commissioners also would like the new building to be 17,000 to 20,000 square feet in size and at least 80 feet wide to accommodate the modern trucks. The larger space also would allow them to meet state requirements for spacing between vehicles, Campbell said.

With the onset of winter weather, the lack of a large, heated and well-drained space is beginning to pose problems. Before the commission meeting, Superintendent Harold Truman pointed out the buildup of ice on the plow blades is freezing them in place. They cannot be rotated or angled by the truck operator when in motion. And there is no space to park them inside.

For the first time Wednesday a heating system was turned on at the commission’s temporary maintenance garage on Carbide Drive off Barlow Road. But the concrete floor is not graded to allow proper drainage of large amounts of snow and ice from trucks after use, Truman said.

Routine maintenance, oil changes, lube jobs and inspection for leaks also will be a challenge because ice is packed into all of the crevices and access points, he said.

On Wednesday members of the road crew got up early to clear and salt roads during the snow storm, but some trucks were inoperable.

In other business:

* the commissioners want to analyze their cash flow and reserves to make sure they remain in the black as they manage outlays and reimbursements for garage construction and new equipment.

* a tank of calcium chloride will be delivered to the road commission in about two weeks to see how it works on county roads.

* the commissioners approved payment of $33,474 in bills for the second half of November.

* the board will meet Dec. 11, and Dec. 30, because of holiday closings. It also could schedule a special session to handle other business, including the 2014 budget, which must be readied for public inspection.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.