OCRC ready for upcoming Christmas weekend winter storm

The Ottawa County Road Commission has been keeping an eye on, planning, and is ready to respond to the winter storm expected to begin later today through the holiday weekend.

OCRC crews will be out on the roads throughout the end of the week and weekend to provide snow removal operations in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Due to the forecasted nature of the storm, we ask residents to be patient while our crews respond to this winter weather event.

The OCRC is responsible for clearing more than 1,700 miles of primary and local roads, in addition to providing winter maintenance on 521 lane miles of the state highway system.

Our winter maintenance operations are conducted in accordance with the established priority system based on traffic volumes, road classification, and location.

The priorities are as follows:

  1. State Trunklines
  2. Multi-lane Primary Roads
  3. Primary Roads
  4. Local Paved Roads
  5. Subdivision Streets
  6. Local Gravel Roads
  7. Dead End Streets and Cul-de-sacs

The amount of falling, blowing and drifting snow that is expected means that our team will need to spend extra time on higher priority routes before being able to work into more local and residential areas.

As a general rule, it can take upwards of 48 hours after the completion of a snow event for our crews to make their way through the entire county road network.

Additionally, forecasted high winds could mean downed trees and limbs in the road right-of-way.

Please dial 9-1-1 in an emergency situation, such as a tree that is tangled with downed utility lines, or if the situation occurs after hours, or over the weekend.

Holiday Hours

Although the Road Commission administrative offices will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26, in observance of the Christmas holiday, our road crews will still be out this weekend to respond to this winter weather event, as our crews are on call 24/7, 365 days per year.

For after-hours reporting of road-related emergencies, we ask that you please dial 9-1-1. Dispatchers will be able to report these emergencies to our operations staff after hours and during the observed holiday.

Travel Safety Reminders

Deteriorating weather conditions will affect travel. For your safety, it is advised to avoid any unnecessary travel.

If you must head out, remember: Don’t crowd the plow, and give our crews plenty of room to operate.

Do not attempt to pass snow plow vehicles while they are plowing. Never attempt to pass a snow plow on the right.

Do not crowd the plow! Plow drivers have limited visibility and they cannot see directly
behind their trucks. Please be aware that snow plow trucks may back up at intersections.

Be sure your windshield is clear of ice and snow. Make sure washer fluids are full, tires have proper air pressure and tread, and your vehicle is equipped with essential emergency equipment.

Posted speeds are for ideal road conditions. Michigan law requires motorists to drive at a “careful and prudent speed” in all conditions. Reduce speeds and increase following distances. Accelerate and brake slowly and avoid over-steering.

Beware of ice patches. Bridges and overpasses freeze first.

Avoid distractions. Don’t talk on your cell or text.

Always wear your safety belt. Ensure that all passengers are properly buckled, and children are in appropriate child-restraints.

Other Safety Tips

Our plow drivers often deal with low visibility during winter weather events. Snow is constantly flying onto the windshield and around the plow truck. These conditions make it a challenge for our drivers to see anyone along the road — both children playing and homeowners shoveling or blowing snow on their driveways.

Just because you can see or hear the plow truck doesn’t mean the driver can see you! Make sure your far enough off of the road and away from the truck when it is operating in your vicinity.

Plows can throw large chunks of ice into ditches when plowing, these chunks of snow and ice could cause you to become injured.

Make sure you remind your children that it is never a good idea to tunnel into snow or build forts in the snowbanks along the side of the road. Our drivers will not be able to see you, and if you’re in the tunnel, you could be “snowed in” when a truck plows next to you.