"The Road" Newsletter -- February 2023

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February 2023 | Volume 13 | Issue 2 | Bookmark and Share

All about Michigan's seasonal weight limits

Seasonal Weight Restrictions Diagram

Have you ever heard of seasonal weight restrictions or "frost laws" on area roads and wondered what that means?

By law, road agencies across the state can enact and enforce seasonal weight restrictions on any roads that are not designed as “all season” roads.

Roads classified as "all season" are much thicker and have been designed to allow trucking traffic year-around.

Unless a road has been designed and constructed for heavy vehicle loads year-round, a significant loss of pavement strength occurs during thaw periods.

Road damage is directly related to the amount and frequency of the loading applied. Michigan law provides that the months of March, April and May are automatically reduced loading months, but the statute also allows the Road Commission to implement those restrictions earlier, or suspend reduced loading, as conditions warrant.

Once enacted, seasonal weight restrictions lower the axle loading limits and reduce maximum travel speeds for certain vehicles on the affected roads. The Road Commission and other road agencies across the state must strike a balance between “business as usual” for truck traffic and protecting the roads when it comes to determining when to enforce the seasonal weight restrictions.

To help with these enforcement efforts once the weight restrictions are enacted, the Road Commission's utilizes specially trained weighmasters.

Efforts are made to coordinate restrictions with neighboring counties when determining when to implement and remove seasonal weight restrictions.

Staying Informed

Wondering how you can be informed this winter and spring about if/when seasonal weight restrictions are enforced and removed?

You can visit our website where updates will be posted on weight restriction status. You can also find truck operator maps and more information on the web page.

For statewide seasonal weight restriction information you can visit the County Road Association's Seasonal Weight Restrictions website

Pot Hole Chart

Potholes are one of the pesky side effects of the winter season, especially as we go through cycles of freeze and thaw.

During the winter months, cold patch -- also known as cold asphalt -- is the most common method used to fill potholes because it can be applied right from the truck without heating.

Cold patch is also not dependent upon warm weather for application. Road crews like cold patch because it retains its pliable properties when the temperature drops, so it can be used year-round.

Permanent repairs on potholes are typically made during the summer maintenance season using hot mix asphalt once these materials become more readily available.

Additionally, Road Commission preventative maintenance projects such as chip seal, cape seal and skip paving help prevent potholes by improving pavement integrity, preventing water penetration, and directing water away from the roadway.

The Ottawa County Road Commission relies on the help of motorists to help find and fix area potholes. If you notice a pothole on a county road that you'd like to report, contact our office at 616-842-5400 or utilize our online service request form.

Gravel roads a challenge during winter, spring

Wet Muddy Gravel Roads

Paved roads aren't the only roads that deal with the affects of weather.

The ups and downs of winter temperatures, combined with varying types of precipitation, can play a number on gravel roads in Ottawa County.

The effect of frost leaving
the ground during thaw periods is compounded
by large amounts of rain
and/or snow melt during the late winter/early spring season.

The fines (silt and clay) in the gravel road that are needed to bind the sand and gravel together under normal conditions become oversaturated and weak during this thaw process.

The silt and clay also hinder excess moisture from draining through the gravel. What was once a frozen and solid road turns soft, unstable and muddy. 

The best cure for allowing these “muddy” gravel roads to dry out is warm, dry temperatures and a good wind.

Crews' attempts to grade and/or place gravel on top of “muddy” gravel roads can turn the road into a bigger mess than if it were left alone.

The Road Commission monitors the gravel roads, and once conditions warrant, we will grade and reshape them as necessary.

Rob Berens named OCRC Employee of the Quarter

Rob Berens Employee of the Quarter

The Ottawa County Road Commission is pleased to announce that Rob Berens has been named as its Employee of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of 2022.

Rob works out of the Grand Haven Garage Sign Shop. He was nominated by a fellow employee in the Grand Haven Garage for his willingness help make sure that OCRC plow trucks were ready for community holiday events.

Rob spent time making both the decorated Halloween snowplow for Trunk-or-Treat events, as well as the Christmas themed snowplow for local Christmas parades.

The OCRC appreciates Rob’s extra efforts during the season to assist our operations and help our crews engage with the community in a fun way.

The Road Commission's Employee of the Quarter is selected from nominations provided by fellow Road Commission employees.