by Elizabeth Wehman, editor

WINTER IS BACK and it came with a vengeance in the form of almost ten inches of snow on Sunday alone. Views of rural roads looked much like this one at the corner of Lynn and Robbins streets in Owosso. Many were snow-covered and extremely icy until the sun shone again on Thursday. (Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)


It’s here again. Finger gripping steering wheel drivers hoping, beyond hope, that another car will not come directly into your path as you maneuver down a rural, icy road. The Shiawassee Road Commission has 1,100 miles of roads to clear after each winter snowstorm. Two hundred and fifty two miles of that are state highway miles which get the first priority in keeping traveling through the county at its safest. “We have to keep the highways, which are double in length, cleared first,” announced Brent Friess, Managing Director of the Shiawassee County Road Commission.

After the major highways are clear, the commission’s winter clearing maintenance team of 18 employees, move on to clear county paved roads with the third priority being local roads including blacktop. Once all these roads are at least plowed, the team moves on to finish up the job by plowing county subdivisions and gravel roads.

Despite all of these efforts, everything is contingent on weather conditions. Salt will not work on de-icing if temperatures are 20 degrees or below. “We do try to mix some of our salt mixture with sand, but this doesn’t always work well due to the nature of what is happening as far as temperatures and the type of existing road conditions,” added Friess. Sunday’s, Dec. 11 storm came with a fury of up to ten inches of snow in places, followed by intense wind conditions as well as single-digit temperatures. “This all adds to how roads are plowed and taken care of,” says Friess.

Funding for road care is provided by the gas tax as well as vehicle registrations. In January of 2017, an additional increase in diesel fuel gas tax and vehicle registration increases will give the road commission a bit of a boost in their funding. Funding in another county may vary due to a higher population in that area. “Shiawassee County is considered a rural county,” adds Friess.

The road commission wants everyone to know that they need to drive according to road conditions. It is also imperative that when shoveling your driveway clear enough snow from the area several feet before the driveway to insure that you don’t end up with an icy, heavy pile after a plow goes through to clear the road. Also be sure to clear your car of snow before heading out onto the roads.

Current travel conditions can be found on the Michigan State Police website at

Winter Road Care in Shiawassee County was last modified: December 19th, 2016 by Karen Elford