Houghton County Road Commission not Concerned with Remaining Salt for the Winter

Severe winter weather in the Upper Peninsula can come quick and stick around for a couple of days. That can be a challenge for those folks who are responsible for cleaning it up. Each county’s road commission gets salt delivered in the fall. It can take months before the road commission knows if they’ll need more. Houghton County’s Road Commission Engineer Kevin Harju, said so far, the region has had an average winter. So he’s not worried about their pile quite yet.

“Last year, was actually a light year. To the beginning of February we had spent about a million dollars in snow removal. We’re [at] about 1.4 million dollars this year, so about $400,000 more than last year for snow removal. On average, in an average year, we spend about 2.1 million dollars. We have a sufficient amount of salt in the salt barns. We should have plenty to finish out the winter.” – Kevin Harju County Engineer, Houghton County Road Commission

During severe winter storms, road commissions face a number of challenges. Sometimes they have to wait for conditions to slow down before work can start up. But finances are always the biggest concerns for the Houghton County Road Commission. In an average year Houghton County can spend up to 2.1 million dollars just keeping snow off county roads and township streets.

“Our fleet of snow removal equipment is, a lot of it is getting pretty old. We’re actually in the process to replace some of it. We had one go down, that wont be able to get fixed until probably the summer sometime, to fix a blower that mounts on the front of a loader. Unfortunately they’re very expensive. A snow blower that mounts on the front of a loader, the current price for those is roughly $260,000. It is the Copper Country, so we could have a lot of intense storms yet for the end of the year.” – Kevin Harju County Engineer, Houghton County Road Commission

Harju said this year’s challenges will subside as the weather warms back up. Once that happens, the road commission can begin its yearly plow maintenance. He said the road commission drivers will continue to work tirelessly as long the snow keeps flying in the Copper County. I thought that groundhog said 6 more week’s winter; it sure feels like it’ll be longer than that in the Upper Peninsula.