The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) is in the process of reviewing its winter plowing and salting procedures with its truck drivers and preparing its trucks and plows – all in anticipation of the inevitable arrival of winter weather.
This year, for the fifth year in a row, RCOC is hiring part-time, temporary snowplow/salt-truck drivers to augment its full-time staff. The agency plans to hire 35 temporary drivers.
“The part-time, temporary winter help is a great way to ensure we have enough drivers available,” explained RCOC Chairman Ron Fowkes. “We have had to reduce our number of full-time staff over the last 10 years, so hiring additional temporary staff definitely helps with that effort.”
While the addition of the temporary, part-time workers helps to alleviate some of the strain caused by staff reductions, RCOC continues to struggle with aging equipment.
“We are slowly working toward replacing an aging fleet of trucks,” said RCOC Vice Chairman Eric Wilson. “Nonetheless, we are ready to take on the winter.”
“The winter snow season historically makes or breaks a road commission budget,” Wilson added. “A lighter winter will definitely help the Road Commission plan for maintenance activities after the winter is over.”
RCOC Board Member Gregory Jamian noted that the RCOC team is constantly looking for best practices when it comes to maintaining roads during the winter months. “Equipping many of our trucks with wing plows improves their efficiency by allowing the snowplow driver to clear a lane of road while moving snow off the shoulder at the same time,” he pointed out.
Fowkes noted RCOC has also introduced a quick-response plan that includes adding light-duty trucks to more quickly get to isolated icing occurrences and other urgent situations as well as to more quickly get into subdivisions and crossovers/turnarounds on boulevards. RCOC has also hired contractors to help out on back roads and in subdivisions during heavy snow events.
Despite the addition of the part-time, temporary employees and the quick-response plan, Fowkes explained that motorists must still be vigilant when driving during or immediately after snow events. “Drive for the conditions. That will make a safer environment for everyone on the road.” He also reminded motorists to not crowd the plow and give them room to groom.
Finally, citizens are reminded to check the stability of mailboxes located along roadsides. “If your mailbox shakes just touching it, chances are it will not withstand standard snow-removal operations,” said RCOC Managing Director Dennis Kolar. “Taking time to tighten screws and securing or replacing mail receptacles now will help prevent future mishaps,” Kolar added.