A couple of early snowfalls have messed up the order of jobs for area public works crews, but the work will still get done, just in a different order, according to Spring Lake Public Works Director Wally Delamater.
Spring Lake crews (as of March, both township and village are under one umbrella) were busy with the fall leaf collection in the village when Mother Nature dumped 4-5 inches of snow late last week. A lake-effect snowfall on Tuesday further hindered efforts to collect leaves and several other jobs that crews were doing.
Early Tuesday morning, Delamater said he called in the crews and jumped into a pickup truck with a plow blade to help.
“There’s times when it’s all hands on deck,” the director said.
What falls by the wayside, along with the leaves, is the Miss Dig requests for marking water lines. Delamater said they are averaging about 300 of those a month because of all the new construction in the area.
Another normal procedure in the late fall is to pump down more than 800 hydrants in the township and more than 150 in the village, Delamater said.
“That has to be done so they don’t freeze,” he explained.
With the consolidation of the Spring Lake public works departments, there’s more manpower to spread out and cover for each other when someone is on vacation or sick leave.
When the snow melts, crews will continue with the leaf collection, and complete it in the spring if they have to, Delamater said. Spring Lake Township and village residents have until today to drop off leaves in the dumpsters at the Department of Public Works building on 150th Avenue.
When it comes to snow cleanup, Spring Lake crews start out at 1 or 2 a.m. with bike paths and sidewalks on school routes. The plow drivers head in at around 3 a.m., and are out the door within minutes because all of the vehicles are ready to go, Delamater said.
Priorities are the school safe routes; the major roads in the village such as Exchange, Liberty, Lake and River; and other busy streets. Once those are done, the plow drivers head out into the rest of the neighborhoods.
Spring Lake crews plow only village streets. They also plow parking areas, parks and the municipal properties in the village and township.
The Ottawa County Road Commission handles all of the state highways and roads in the county's townships.
Each winter, the county will use about 20,000 to 25,000 tons of salt, as well as 14,000 to 18,000 tons of sand, according to the Road Commission's communications administrator, Alex Doty. In comparison, the village will go through about 100-150 tons of salt.
Delamater said an average salting of the entire village takes 2-3 tons of salt.
Spring Lake crews handle about 11.7 miles of road and 14 miles of sidewalk in the village, and about 30 miles of pathway in the township, including the North Bank Trail.
Ferrysburg Public Works Director Matt Shindlbeck said that his crews typically use between 200 and 300 tons of salt. They also have 20 tons of sand that they mix with the salt in colder temperatures. On Tuesday, when the temperature was in the lower teens, the mix was about 50/50, Shindlbeck said.
Ferrysburg handles almost 23 miles of road in the city.
The Grand Haven Department of Public Works currently has 150 tons of salt on hand, but is budgeted for 850 tons this year.
Officials say they prioritize on the roads with the highest traffic, as well as areas where they regularly see icing or drifting.
Although the county takes care of U.S. 31 in the city of Grand Haven (Beacon Boulevard), the city is responsible for the "Michigan" turn areas in the median.
Ottawa County has a priority system based on traffic volumes, road classification and location, Doty said. The first priority for the Road Commission is the state highways, including the interstate. Next are the multi-lane primary roads, then primary roads, local paved roads, subdivision streets, local gravel roads, and then dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs.
“Please know that during a significant snow event, it can take as long as 48 hours to work our way through that system, and even longer if we have back-to-back snowstorms,” Doty said. “We ask residents to be patient and know that our crews are working hard to get all the streets cleared this winter, even if you don’t see them right away.”