Road commission mechanics working around the clock to keep plows rolling

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MIDLAND (WJRT) (02/13/2019) - With another wintry mix headed our way Thursday evening, Mid-Michigan road crews will be back out treating roadways.

Another group is working around the clock to make sure the snow plows are ready for whatever Mother Nature sends their way.

Midland County Road Commission Fleet Manager Ben Mead said it's really the guys working behind the scenes on these plow trucks who are the unsung heroes of the past three weeks.

"Short nights, getting up early, coming in early -- it gets old but it's what we signed up for," said Neil Sharpe.

When the mechanic for the Midland County Road Commission isn't busy building new plow trucks, he's underneath the plow trucks, repairing things like the transmission wire harness, which tells the transmission when to shift.

"The salt and the snow gets blocked up underneath there," Sharpe said. "You're bouncing down the road, snow off the blade hitting it, it'll just pull 'em right off."

Mead said snow and ice bonded to the pavement can wreak havoc on the plow's blades.

"We've got swing pins that control the swing back and forth of the scraper blade," he said. "These big heavy pins will actually sheer right off."

Mead said last year the road commission spent $50,000 replacing blades.

The trucks, which weigh 60,000 pounds loaded, perform 12 different functions. That means a lot can go wrong.

"In a snow event, it's not uncommon to see two, three, four trucks a day coming in and having work done on them, significant amount of work," Mead added.

The road commission is responsible for 1,000 miles of roads. That's the distance from Midland to Tallahassee, Fla. They employ four full-time mechanics.

"These guys in the shop are the guys that make it possible for the 25 guys operating the equipment to go out every day and do their job," said Mead.

The operators have a lot going on inside the cab of the truck. Mead noted its important drivers give the plow drivers plenty of room when they're out on the roadway so they can finish their job safely.

Michigan's expanded Move Over law also applies to snow plow trucks that have their lights activated.

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