Oakland County road crews prepare for more winter weather, tight budget

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) - This blast of winter weather on is not just going to be blowing in snow, it is blowing out road commission budgets. Severely.

Now road commission leaders across the state are waiting to hear if Lansing will provide some relief. 

At Inglenook Park on Twelve Mile in Southfield, it looked like spring on Wednesday afternoon. Children were outside playing without coats. It was lovely. 

But as they say on the HBO show 'Game of Thrones,' winter is coming.  Snow is expected to start falling Thursday afternoon. 

“I don’t want to shovel again. I really don’t want to shovel,” said Kim Silar, a mom at the park with her son. 

“Why would it snow again? It just snowed,” said Aaron Hicks, a 9-year-old playing at the park.  “We have all this happy weather. It looks like it is about to rain, but people are still having fun at the park. But when it snows it is going to be too cold and we already dealt with that for 3 months.”

Road Commission leaders warn even after winter, we are going to be dealing with the impact of this season for many more months. 

Local road commissions say we had above average snow falls, which lead to an increase by the tons in salt use.  Plus, this winter has been a rollercoaster of temperatures. Again and again - it freezes, then thaws.  As water freezes and expands in cracks in the road - it creates potholes. 

“It is like you are driving drunk, swerving, dodging potholes,” said Gregory Brown, a dad at the park with his children. 

Crews have been working overtime around southeastern Michigan, to fill those potholes. 

“We’re exceeding our budget in salt use. We’re exceeding it in overtime,” said Craig Bryson, the Oakland County Road Commission’s Senior Communications Manager.

Bryson says the cost of removing snow and filling potholes will force cuts to be made elsewhere. 

“Those are priority operations, so we won’t stop doing those. We never do that. It is a safety factor,” said Bryson.  “But what it does mean is we do less resurfacing in the summer. We have to take the money from somewhere in our budget.”

In Lansing, lawmakers are considering a bill that would provide $175 million more for Michigan road repairs this year.  A Senate committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to send the legislation to the full Senate for consideration.  It could be voted on as soon as Thursday. 

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