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Frustration mounts over road maintenance in Van Buren County

Updated: Friday, February 8 2013, 07:18 PM EST
Frustration mounts over road maintenance in Van Buren County  story image
VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Winter weather returned to West Michigan with a vengeance on Thursday night, and since it began snowing, Newschannel 3 has received complaints about crews neglecting the back roads of West Michigan.

It’s an issue that we tackled in January. When a storm hits M-DOT says different roads have different priorities. The system is based on traffic volume, so the roads less traveled are not high on the priority list, but that isn’t good enough for some people in Van Buren County who say they are frustrated.

Newschannel 3 has heard from a number of those concerned about the roads in Van Buren County, especially the rural ones.

The Van Buren County Road Commission tells Newschannel 3 that its budget is strong and its policies haven’t changed, it’s just that we’re no longer used to this severe weather.

Snowy roads are continuing to cause headaches for some residents of Van Buren County.

“You try to get out to get to the stores or to your friends and family and the roads aren’t plowed,’ said Carmen Zeller, who lives on a rural road.

With about four inches of snow falling overnight in Van Buren County, the road commission is out working to plow 1,350 miles of roadways on Friday, but for some those efforts are falling short.

“We were dispatched at 21 minutes after midnight and at 40 minutes after we were disregarded by the county and we had only made it to Bangor High School,” said Columbia Township Fire Chief Dave Johnson.

Chief Johnson tells Newchannel 3 that two weeks ago unplowed roads doubled their response time to a fire in Bangor, and that wasn’t the first time.

“From a fire department standpoint, it is a nightmare to get places and to get there quickly,” said Johnson.

The county road commission gauges routes on the severity of the storm, hitting primary roads first, then secondary, and finally plattes and subdivisions.

“We are going to pretty much run every day,” said Van Buren County Road Commission Superintendent Brian Cornish. “Some of those secondary roads may not get done every day, but at least every other day.”

Cornish says milder weather over this winter and the last is bringing in more complaints, even though his department is doing more with less.

“We’ve all gotten spoiled,’ said Cornish, “even with better equipment we are able to cover a lot more ground.”

Van Buren County says if there is an emergency a truck can be dispatched to the fire station.

During the week trucks run from 4:00 am to early afternoon if there is at least four inches of snow, and on the weekends when there is eight inches.
Frustration mounts over road maintenance in Van Buren County
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