Source: Sherman Publications

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RCOC responds to Addison manís complaints

by Trevor Keiser

January 29, 2014

In response to Rob Guzanek and the rest of the Addison Township resident's complaints about the Road Commission for Oakland County, Craig Bryson, RCOC public information officer said RCOC has "very detailed plans" when it comes to snow removal.

"If he (Guzanek or any other resident) is ever interested we would be happy to sit down and show them our winter maintenance guidelines, which is a book about two inches thick that spells out our priorities," Bryson said. "It's not as simple as you might think."

"The priorities change depending on the day of the week, the time of the day, the type of storm that hits, when it hits, all those types of things," he added. "Despite protestations to the contrary I-75 is going to always be a higher priority than any road in Addison Township, because it carries more traffic than there are residents in Addison Township and (cars) travel at much higher speeds (on freeways). So, safety dictates we have to focus on those types of roads first."

What residents consider "main roads" and what RCOC considers a main road is different. The tier system is primary paved, primary gravel, local paved and local gravel. For Addison, the primary paved roads are Rochester, Lakeville and Romeo. Primary gravel include: Lake George, the section of Hosner north of Oakwood, Oakwood, Leonard Road west of Leonard, and Mack Road. Local gravel are Hosner, Walker, Noble, Shoup, Curtis, Army, Rowland, Haven, Brewer, Townsend, Yule, Moffat, Texter, Frick, Hagerman, Leonard Road east of Leonard, Gerst, Secord Lake and McKail Roads.

With the way the tier system is set up, Bryson said it is possible for both primary and local roads to be cleared at the same time when private contractors are helping out.

As for topography, Bryson said there is nothing "unique" to Addison's situation compared to the surrounding areas.

"Topography doesn't change when you leave Addison Township. It's very similar in Oxford, Brandon Groveland, Holly and even to some extent Orion Township as well. We face the topographical challenges in many of the townships we maintain," he said. "The residents of Milford think their topography is more challenging than anywhere else in the county, too. Residents of any community believe their situation is unique and that we're doing more somewhere else."

The comment that Addison has "the highest hills and all resources should be here" doesn't hold water in Bryson's opinion.

"We would like to do everybody as quickly as possible," he said. "But the reality is, we don't have the resources to do anybody as quickly as we would like to."

The same holds true when it comes to tree trimming. Bryson admitted that they have literally thousands and thousands of dead ash trees lining gravel roads.

"We are so under-funded when it comes to stuff like that. We can only do a little bit -We get to as much of it as we can, but it's literally running from one critical spot to another," he added. "Are there many we should get that we don't? Absolutely, but it's not because we're favoring one area over another. It's because we can't do enough of that anywhere."

He also noted that part of the reason they can't get to things as quickly is because they are working with 35 percent less staff than what they had in 2007.

Bryson reiterated that Guzanek's claim that RCOC was plowing neighborhood streets in Orion Township before Addison's main roads "is simply not true."

"There are subdivisions in Orion Township that hire their own contractors," he explained. "Those contractors may have been in that Monday and plowed subdivisions in Orion Township, but we did not plow any subdivision in Orion Township before we plowed the main roads in Addison. He's just wrong on that point."

RCOC's total budget for the year is $108 million, Bryson said they have not yet calculated how much they spent this winter or how much overtime or double time they have paid out. In terms of salt, they have already used 50,000 tons

"We used about 50,000 tons through the middle of March last year," he said. "So we're well ahead of last year in terms of salt use."

Despite all the complaints, Bryson said he remains "sympathetic to the challenges the residents of the township face."

"It's no fun being stuck in your sub, no fun when there is a foot and half of snow on the roads, but most of the people also made a conscious decision to live in a rural area. I understand that (and) in no way fault them for (it). When you choose to live in a particular area it has to be one of the considerations. An urban area with more traffic is going to see a higher level of service than a rural area with very little traffic."