Fewer than 100 people from four agencies around Mount Pleasant and Isabella County spend hours each day clearing snow and ice from the streets and sidewalks used by thousands of Mount Pleasant residents.
“We have 16 townships with a driver for each township,” said Tony Casali, directing manager of the Isabella County Road Commission. “Union Township takes a little longer because of all the subdivisions and apartments.”
The road commission uses a combination of salt, brine and sand depending on the snow fall, ice conditions and temperature.
The Isabella County Road Commission takes care of roads that are used by Central Michigan University students and faculty, including parts of Broomfield, Bluegrass and High Streets.
Other roads around Mount Pleasant are cleared by the City of Mount Pleasant, the Michigan Department of Transportation or Central Michigan University.
East Campus and West Campus Drives are first priorities for their plowing crew, said Steve Lawrence, the associate vice president of Facilities Management. Sidewalks are a huge concern as well, with 29 miles of sidewalks around campus.
Critical sidewalks get cleared by many people on their 15-person staff, Lawrence said, taking a top priority when the snow starts to fall. Salt is also used to help create a more stable walking path for students and faculty.
Casali said drivers for the county road commission will sometimes work 12 to 16-hour days depending on the forecast and what they have in drifts.
“It’s difficult with the drifts,” he said. “It’s difficult on the driver. Fatigue does set in.”
Bob Murphy, the street superintendent for Mount Pleasant, said it can be difficult for plow drivers to see cars around them. He recommends taking some time to slow down when drivers see plows ahead of them, and to give the plow plenty of room to work.
“Stay back 30 to 50 feet if you see a plow,” Murphy said. “It helps the driver see you. Slow down. That’s the biggest problem we have.”
Be patient with snow removal, Lawrence advises, which varies by day.
“Every snow fall or ice event is different, so the length of time varies for every event,” he said. “The Landscape Operations staff consists of 15 people who are responsible for maintaining the campus streets, sidewalks and parking lots. The campus includes 4.5 miles of roads, 29 miles of sidewalks and 92 acres of parking lots.”
Lawrence also recommends students bundle up before they go to class, and have proper footwear for the season.
“Because of the extremely cold temperatures, salt doesn’t work well,” he said, “So be aware of the road, parking lot or sidewalk surface conditions, and plan extra time to travel whether by foot or vehicle.”