VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. — The Van Buren County Road Commission is using GPS trackers to monitor snow plow trucks running their routes, making the process of clearing all of the roads in the county on snowy days like Thursday more efficient.
The county is tasked with clearing about 2,600 miles of roadway each day that it snows, and does it with 37 drivers. Most of their drivers are full-time employees of the county, with a handful of seasonal drivers on board to assist when needed.
“We’ll start around 4:30 to 5 a.m.,” Dan Bishop, the managing director at the Van Buren County Road Commission, told FOX 17 Thursday afternoon.
“Once it gets below 21 degrees, salt tends to not work as well, so sand will give it some grit, but we also put what is called “Boost” on our salt, which is supposed to work down to 0 degrees.”
While there are still lots of moving parts to their operation, the county has been able to make the process more efficient by placing GPS trackers in all of their plow trucks.
Dan Bishop, and other road commission employees, monitor the massive daily task back at their headquarters in Lawrence, where they can view the real-time locations of all their plows on a big television screen.
“Someone says, 'My road wasn’t plowed...' I can pull it up and say, 'Yes, your road was plowed at 5:15 in the morning, and it kept snowing. We hit every road once a day, not five times a day.”
The information the system gathers and stores also assists in properly allocating resources across the county.
“We have quite a few micro climates in Van Buren County,” Bishop said.
“If this part isn’t getting any snow, but South Haven is getting creamed, we send our resources to South Haven.”
With more snow expected to fall in Van Buren and Allegan counties Thursday night into Friday, the plow trucks are loading up on salt and sand, and planning to be back out on the roads at 4:30 a.m. Friday morning.