Montcalm County Roads

Frequently Asked Questions


Following are basic answers to your questions. Please contact our office for official answers.


Q: Our gravel road is a muddy mess! Can you do something to stop this springtime situation?
A: We can try, and we do try, but, in the spring when the frost comes out of the roadbed, what was once frozen and solid turns soft and unstable. It will remain this way until the moisture comes out of the roadbed. The best cure for this is warm, dry temperatures and a good wind. If we attempt to haul gravel on top of this condition, it could turn it into a bigger mess. There is a saying in the trade that “adding a bucket of gravel to a bucket of mud just gets you a bigger bucket of mud.” There is much truth to this quip, as adding sand or gravel to fill a mudhole usually has little or no effect because the gravel ends up mixing with the mud, just making more mud and sometimes aggravating the problem as equipment stirs things up.

Q: It snowed last night, when will my road be plowed?
A: Snow removal is done on a priority system. State highways, such as M-57, M-66, etc., have the highest priority, then primary roads (main connector roads such as Sidney Road, Stanton Road, etc..), followed by local roads, which many people refer to as “township” roads. When your road gets cleared, depends on the type of road you reside on.

Q: Your truck knocked down my mailbox! When are you going to fix it?
A: Mailboxes are sometimes knocked down by road commission trucks when plowing snow. The Road Commission’s policy is to replace mailboxes that have actually been hit by the snow plow; however, if the mailbox or wooden post was broken off from the force of the snow coming off the plow blade, we do not replace or repair it. Please call our office and we will check into the problem.

Q: A county truck threw a stone into my windshield – is the Road Commission going to pay for it?
A: Contact your insurance company to see if you have applicable coverage before contacting our office.

Q: Do I need to get a permit to put in a new driveway?
A: Normally the answer is yes; however, it is always advisable to contact our office and your township zoning board. Anytime a person or business does any construction work in the road right-of-way (normally 66 feet – 33 feet each direction from the center of the road) the should obtain a permit.

Q: I live on a gravel road, and I can’t leave my windows open because of the dust – what are you going to do about it?
A: The townships pay for the application of chloride on local roads in their township, and each township contracts with the Road Commission to take care of this. The majority of the 20 townships in Montcalm County contract four applications of chloride each summer (one per month); a few townships contract for only one or two applications spread out over the summer. The Road Commission has privatized the application of chloride on county roads to a private contractor. The contractor also applies chloride for other counties, and we must work with the contractor’s schedule.

Q: The gravel road I live on is full of holes – when are you going to grade it?
A: In the summer, roads are always graded prior to having chloride applied. In addition, we try to blade gravel roads after it rains and the road has softened up. In the winter, there is not much we can do until the frost is out of the roads.

Q: How do I get a culvert for a driveway?
A: The Road Commission is not a supplier of driveway culverts. As a property owner you must obtain your driveway culvert from a local vendor. The only instances where we install driveway culverts is when we are doing a major ditching or construction project on a road.

Q: How close to the road can I plant my shrubs or trees? How close to the road can I install a fence or put up a building?
A: Normally the distance is thirty-three feet from the center of the road; however, there are exceptions depending which road you reside on; so please call our office. Also, you should check with your township office for local zoning requirements.

Q: Where does the Road Commission get its operating funds?
A: The Road Commission’s main source of funding is the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) which is comprised of gas and weight taxes and driver’s license fees and is distributed by the state through a formula. In addition, the townships contribute a large amount of money to the local road system in each township. The Road Commission does not receive property taxes.

Q: People are always speeding on my road. How can I get the speed limit lowered and some signs put up to slow them down?
A: The Road Commission is the agency that installs and maintains all traffic signs on county roads. State law requires that the Road Commission must follow the requirements of the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD) or risk losing state funding for road maintenance. In order to install regulatory-type signs like no parking signs and speed limit signs, the Road Commission must initiate a traffic study of the road in conjunction with the Michigan Department of State Police (MDSP). The study includes a review of traffic counts, accident history, speed studies, the character of the area along the road, and any other information available regarding the problems in the area. While the Road Commission is a participant in the traffic study and analysis, the guidelines of the MMUTCD and judgment of the Michigan Department of State Police largely determine what speed limit will be adopted. At the conclusion of the study the MDSP issues a written Traffic Control Order directing the Road Commission to install specific signs at specific locations on the road, and to record the completed Traffic Control Order at the County Clerk’s office.

Q: How do I get a “Children Playing” sign put up to protect my children?
A: The Road Commission no longer places or maintains Children Playing signs, although there are still several of these signs scattered throughout our road system. Prior to the revision of the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD) in 1983, these signs were acceptable for use on county roads. Studies done nationally leading up to that revision demonstrated conclusively that, while these signs may make parents and children feel safer, they have absolutely no effect on driver behavior, and do not slow traffic speeds as might be expected. To the extent that the signs might make parents or children think they are safer when the danger is still present, these signs can actually reduce safety. The best policy is still to be sure to keep children as far away from the road as possible, and don’t allow children to play in or near the road.

Q: Why did you spread all that tar and gravel on my paved road? There was nothing wrong with the road, and now its a mess!
A: The process you are referring to is sealcoating, which most road agencies in Michigan use as a relatively low cost method of preserving existing pavements. The tar is actually an emulsion of water and liquid asphalt which penetrates and seals small cracks in the existing pavement. Sealing these cracks on a regular basis prevents water from seeping into and softening the base of the road and over time causing potholes to form. The crushed stone that we use for cover material sticks to the emulsion and, after rolling and sweeping, provides a slightly roughened skid resistant surface to improve safety. Although sealcoating can preserve and extend the life of the pavement, it is only a surface treatment and does not fill any existing bumps, holes, or irregularities and thus does not improve the ride quality. For this reason it is important to apply sealcoat to a road BEFORE this deterioration occurs, which leads us to sealcoat roads that are in generally good condition rather than waiting for them to deteriorate to the point that extensive patching is necessary.