In response to the rapidly raising costs and limited resources, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and its contracting agencies are modifying how winter maintenance operations will be handled on state highways. This means some state highways may take longer to be cleared following a snowstorm. Revisions to maintenance activities are a reflection of Michigan’s transportation funding crisis, which is the result of falling state fuel tax revenues and vehicle registration fees, reduced purchasing power due to inflation and rising construction and materials (such as salt) costs.
This winter, state highways throughout Michigan will be designated either Priority Service Level I (Orange Routes) or II (Blue Routes). During snowfalls, there will be no change in winter maintenance operations. On orange routes, maintenance crews will work to clear the entire pavement of ice and snow both during and after a snow event, using overtime if necessary. The orange routes are MDOT-identified as highways of significance based on economic and travel trends.
On blue routes, maintenance crews will work to clear most snow and ice from roads. At a minimum, roads will be cleared for one wheel-track in each direction, by the conclusion of a snow event. The reminder of the snow and ice on blue routes will be cleared as soon as possible after the snow event without working overtime. While blue routes may be passable, they will not necessarily be completely clear until after snow has stopped accumulating.
MDOT also wants to correct the misconception that more salt is the cure for slippery roads in all cases. When temperatures fall to 10 to 20 degrees, the action of the salt (which lowers the freezing temperature of water) takes longer to work and refreezes at a much faster rate. When temperatures fall below zero to 10 degrees, the melting, dilution of the salt and the refreezing process accelerates even more. This causes the potential for a more dangerous condition than what previously existed.
MDOT encourages drivers to adopt the following winter driving tips:
clear and dry.
maneuvering their large trucks through traffic and along the roadways.