County shares winter maintenance facts, tips
By Chad Johnson, Pierce County Highway Commissioner and Al Thoner, Patrol Superintendent
The Pierce County Highway Department has reported some maintenance facts and tips with the approach of winter.
--State highways in Pierce County are Class 5 roadways (18-hour service). Plowing and maintenance are restricted to the hours of 4 a.m.-10 p.m., unless otherwise authorized by the Department of Transportation. The county highway department follows the same hours on the county system.
--Pavement temperature, and therefore condition, is not going to be consistent throughout the county at any given time. Terrain is a big factor for pavement temperature. Roads in valleys and rock cuts remain colder in the winter because of both elevation and shading, so caution should be used when driving in these areas. Also, bridge decks will usually remain a few degrees colder than the adjacent road.
--If a mailbox is dislodged or knocked down by the force of snow or slush thrown off of the plow or wing, repair is the responsibility of the owner. If there is evidence the plow or wing actually struck the box or post, call the highway department and a representative will inspect the mailbox. If it is deemed a plow struck the box, replacement costs approved by the insurance company will be assumed by the county. If a mailbox is found to be non-conforming, the owner may be liable to others for personal injury or property damage, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
--Don’t use cruise control in wintry conditions. Even on roads that appear clear, there may be slippery spots, which can cause a loss of traction and a spinout if the vehicle is in cruise-control mode.
--Clear frost and snow from windshields and all other vehicle windows prior to driving.
--Don’t be overconfident about the traction and stopping distance of four-wheel-drive vehicles, which generally won’t grip an icy road any better than two-wheel-drive vehicles.
--Leave plenty of room for snow plows. By law, stay back at least 200 feet from the rear of a snow plow.
--The pushing of snow and other materials onto or across the highway, or into the public right-of-way, from side roads and driveways is prohibited by Wisconsin Statutes. Doing so may create potential safety concerns for the traveling public and may impede the snow and ice removal process. If the highway department becomes aware of a violation, the property owner may be subject to a fine.
--For road condition information, do not call the sheriff’s department, but rather go to www.511wi.gov/web/ or call 511.
Finally, the DOT maintenance manual states: “The goal of winter maintenance is to make roadways safe within the limitations of resources, roadway protection and environmental concerns. Hence, motorists can expect some inconvenience and will be expected to modify their driving practices to adapt to road conditions.”
This article includes information from the Wisconsin State Patrol.