Macomb, IL – McDonough County residents should be used to rough road conditions following a significant snow or ice storm, much like we've seen over the past few days. But just how rough is acceptable?
County Engineer Tom Hickman says it's physically impossible to keep county roads completely clear all the time. There's just not enough money and man power to maintain a dry road policy similar to the Illinois Department of Transportation's.
That's why U.S. Routes 67 and 136 through Macomb are often in significantly better shape than the surrounding city, county and township roads.
Hickman says McDonough County does have a snow removal policy in place. Essentially, workers will attempt to clear paths in the morning so busses can take students to school, and people can get to work. If the snow continues throughout the day, crews will continue clearing paths so the students and workers can get home in the afternoon and evening.
But once it gets dark, that's it for the day.
Hickman says there are a few reasons for that. One, as aforementioned, there isn't the manpower or money to be out 24 hours a day. Two, he must take the safety of the plow drivers into consideration.
"Plowing snow at night is not an easy thing, and most of the public probably [don't] realize that," says Hickman. "Your windshield ices up, you can't see if the snow's blowing, you can't see the edge of the road, it's just generally not a good idea."
That's not to say crews will never go out at night. The policy also states county workers will go out in emergency situations.
"The sheriff will call us if there's an emergency," says Hickman. "If somebody gets stuck or if they know of an emergency, they'll call us, and we'll send somebody out on that kind of a basis. But as a regular plowing policy, no, we're not going to go out at night."
Hickman encourages those who depend on county roads to exercise caution and common sense when traveling at night during a snowstorm, because the plows won't be out. He encourages as little travel as possible, unless it's absolutely necessary.
The county's snow removal policy is as follows:
1. Every effort will be made to clear the roads in the morning prior to running of the school bus routes and traffic going to work.
2. In a continuous snow, snowplows will continue to plow their routes during the day to allow school and work traffic to get home.
3. Plows will only be out at night in emergency situations. This does not mean plowing at night when wind is blowing and snow is drifting onto the road. This is counter-productive on county roads.
4. Snow events which start late at night will be plowed early in the morning.
5. A salt/sand/gravel mix will be applied to hills, curves, and intersections ONLY, as a general rule.
6. Ice and/or freezing rain conditions will be handled similarly.