Alcona road commission looking at hoist system

LINCOLN – A pit or a hoist? Members of the Alcona County Road Commission weighed the benefits of buying a portable truck hoist system for around $33,000 now or building a maintenance pit when a new garage is constructed in Lincoln next year.

The hoists are capable of raising county trucks up so crews can duck underneath to replace plow blades and do other maintenance. But they cost between $33,000 to $36,000, Managing Director Jesse Campbell said.

Road crews got a chance to use a set of demonstration hoists at the county’s temporary maintenance garage on Barlow Road and liked them, he said. They were able to change three sets of snow plow blades more efficiently, and removed ice buildup to lubricate undercarriages.

A maintenance pit allows employees to stand up underneath a vehicle, but must be covered with steel plates when not in use, Campbell said. A pit would cost $10,000 to $20,000, plus an additional amount for ventilation and oil collection systems.

“In our reviews, we found there are so many issues with pits that other counties have filled them in and have gone to hoist systems instead,” Campbell said. “We didn’t have the hoists before and we didn’t have a pit before,” referring to the 1930s county maintenance garage that burned to the ground in late September.

Insurance money will not cover the expense, but the county may have money in other funds to buy the hoists. The commissioners gave Campbell the go-ahead to put out bids seeking the hoists, although he could have authority from the state to buy a demo unit if available.

The county also will seek qualifications from companies to construct the new maintenance garage as a design-bid-build project. But pushing project construction during winter would add 20 percent to the costs, Campbell said.

The county had some plans drawn up several years ago, but the project would have cost $5 million to build then. Campbell said some of the concepts in the plans could be incorporated into the new designs, however, because the ideas were good ones.

In other business:

* received a refund of $56,090 from the County Road Association Self- Insurance Fund, which provides worker’s compensation coverage

* set a public hearing on the 2014 road budget for 4:15 p.m. Dec. 30 at the road commission office, and a public hearing on the federal projects list at 4:30 p.m.

* approved payment on Dec. 11 of $179,644 in bills, including payroll.

* the county received two new loaders, which will be equipped with road maintenance gear. New pickup trucks also are on their way.

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