ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. –Allegan County was one of the hardest hit during this week’s winter storm.
Thursday, folks were still digging out of their driveways, and the road commission trucks were out in full force.
While snow plow drivers were working 12-hour shifts trying to clear roughly 1,750 miles of county roads, Larry Brown, Allegan County Road Commission’s managing director, said this storm has been a losing battle.
“We’ve got 37 snow plow runs,” Brown said. “They’re about 50 miles a piece, and with the little bit of wind we had, we just couldn’t keep up.”
Brown said that because the storm blanketed the entire county, his workforce was stretched thin. “(Thursday) we’re moving out onto the local roads and the gravel roads,”
“This (snow) was county-wide, so we couldn’t pull anybody in to help from one side (of the county) to the other. With the funding situation the way it is, that’s about the best we can do.”
Allegan County is no stranger to winter weather, and while the road commission is catching up, Brown said it’s the funding that’s lagging behind. Michigan’s county road commissions operate on a 19 cent per gallon flat gas tax that hasn’t increased since 1997, according to Brown, even though the price of gas for the county trucks and the cost of salt, sand, and gravel have gone way up.
Brown said the number of employees working for the Allegan County Road Commission has dropped from 70 to 50 since 2006. He would like to see a higher flat gas tax so road commissions across the state could get more money to maintain the local roads in winter and summer.