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Beline Obeid

Public works enemy No.1


February 27, 2014
THE GROSSE POINTES — Snow-related road maintenance is public works enemy No. 1.

In Grosse Pointe Shores, public works crews have spread 325 tons of road salt this winter, more than 1 1/2 times the 190 tons of salt used during all of last winter, according to Brett Smith, department director.

A comparable ratio applies to the 370 man-hours spent this winter fighting snow and repairing equipment.

"We're experiencing wear and tear we've never had before," Smith said.

One morning last week, the drive shaft broke on a truck rigged as a snow plow.

The shaft failed due to the truck grinding along in low gear hour after hour clearing tons of snow.

"This last snow was heavy," Smith said. "This was the first time we had a break-down where we had to take (the truck) off the road."

Repairs took a day.

Although Smith isn't worried about a shortage of road salt, the extra man-hours "will have some impact" on the department budget, he said.

Freezing weather and the recent thaw are causing pot holes to pop up all over.

"The City (of Grosse Pointe) has been actively fighting a difficult winter, plowing streets and sidewalks and now patching holes and clearing catch basins as a result of the weather," said Peter Dame, manager of the City.

He's looking to Lansing for help shoring up a municipal budget under stress from unscheduled road repairs.

"The state legislature is considering a supplemental appropriation to the Act 51 motor fuel distributions to local government," Dame said. "The City strongly supports that effort, as our budgeted funds have been exhausted with intense winter cleanup efforts."

"We've gone through 15 tons of cold patch already," said Gary Huvaere, public services director.

In the Shores, Smith is banking on an ounce of prevention yielding a pound of cure.

"We have been doing extensive road maintenance right through," he said. "We've done joint and crack sealing, so the problems we're going to have will be minimal compared to other cities that haven't been maintained."

Heaving pavement due to frost has made for a brutal winter in the Farms.

Municipal road crews are working daily with city hot-patch equipment.

If could be worse. The Farms has a lot of newly-resurfaced roads that are holding up well.

"We've been aggressive in our road replacement schedule and have put in about $2 million worth of new roads in the last four years," said Shane Reeside, city manager.

A section of Moross between Ridge and Lakeshore isn't one of them.

"It has seen a lot of heaving and has a lot of damage, so were' planning on repaving that section this spring," Reeside said.

Mack Avenue, a county road which Reeside described as a "patchwork of cold patch" is scheduled to be repaved this summer.

"Overall, we're faring fairly well under the circumstances," Reeside said.

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