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Crossroads The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

Volume 2

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Issue 2

Winter 2016

Page 10

Gen Z into the COUNTY ROAD

Bringing

BUSINESS

IN THIS ISSUE: g

Member Profile: Road Commission for Oakland County runs safety first.

g

Innovation Alley: Testing new road surfaces, paving techniques


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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

IN THIS ISSUE

Crossroads Crossroads is the quarterly publication of the County Road Association (CRA) of Michigan. The 83 county members of CRA represent the unified, credible and effective voice for a safe and efficient local road system in Michigan. The Association, headquartered three blocks north of the State Capitol, is dedicated to helping members promote and maintain a safe, efficient local road system in rural and urban Michigan.

CRA BOARD PRESIDENT:

James M. Iwanicki, PE, Marquette

VICE PRESIDENT:

Steven A. Warren, Kent

SECRETARY-TREASURER:

Dorothy G. Pohl, CPA, Ionia

DIRECTORS:

Larry Brown, PE, Allegan

John H. Daly, III, Ph.D., Genesee

John M. Hunt, Huron

Joanna I. Johnson, Kalamazoo

Dennis G. Kolar, PE, Oakland

Bradley S. Lamberg, PE, Barry

Michael A. Maloney, PE, Ontonagon

Douglas J. Mills, PE, Baraga

Larry Orcutt, Alpena

Douglas Robidoux, Mason

Walter J. Schell, PE, Macomb

Kelly Smith, Newaygo

Burt R. Thompson, PE, Antrim

Richard B. Timmer, Chippewa

DIRECTOR:

PUBLISHING TEAM:

Denise Donohue, CAE, APR

Christina Strong, cstrong@micountyroads.org

Kathy Backus

Nathan Jones

Dustin Earley

No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission of the editor and the County Road Association of Michigan. Opinions expressed by columnists and contributing authors are not necessarily those of the County Road Association of Michigan, its officers, employees or the editor.

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PRESIDENT’S CORNER

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MEMBER PROFILE

Oakland County: focused on safety-first for 50 years.

10 GENERATION Z

Road agencies bringing the next generation into the county road business

16 UNPAVED ROADS

New tools to improve rating system.

18 ASK MDEQ

MiWaters program improves efficiencies using 21st century technology.

20 INNOVATION ALLEY

A snapshot os new surface treatment ideas for improving roads.

18 CRA’S NEW UNIFIED PERMITS The real cost of permit.

20 INNOVATION ALLEY

Road agencies get innovative to manage winter roads.

24 LEGISLATOR PROFILE

Sen. Goeff Hansen on roads, road agencies and his expectation from new funding.

28 COMMUNICATION CORNER Introducing new millage campaign resources

30 EDITOR'S NOTE

Advertisers and sponsors are solely responsible for the accuracy of informationin their ads. © 2016, County Road Association of Michigan

Next Publication The Spring 2017 Crossroads will preview the 2017 CRA Highway Conference, a “Century of Innovation.” Crossroads’ editorial team wants to hear from you. Call CRA at 517.482.1189 and share your ideas for future issues!

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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

PRESIDENT’S CORNER In my first two columns I spoke of teamwork and the importance of having positive interactions with everyone you encounter. In this article, I want to talk about something that people don’t think much about but those who are successful in any area recognize the end result isn’t possible without committed effort to it: And that is practice. So how do we apply the concept of practice to the county road agency and the CRA? My response to that question is simply, to everything. Here’s why: If our goal is to be a good teammate and have positive interactions with everyone, how do we accomplish this goal? We tend to think it’s easy: "I’ll say it or think it and it will just happen." Well, we all know that just saying it or thinking it doesn’t work. My high school wrestling coach would say “the will to win is overrated. It is the will to prepare to win which counts.” Everyone wants to win, or in this case, be a good teammate and have positive interactions with other people. But to win we must prepare or practice. So what is practice? According to the Webster’s Dictionary, practice is “to do something again and again in order to become better at it.” Practice helps

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transform us. If we practice something long enough, it becomes natural, and eventually habit. A wise football coach once told me “during pressure situations, a person goes back to what they know best.” I have found this to be true not only in sports, but in life. With this concept in mind, practice teamwork and having positive interactions with everyone. If you consistently practice it, when the pressure is on and you’re in a heated discussion on a difficult issue you’re passionate about, having a positive interaction and being a good teammate will be reflected in how you handle yourself because you have practiced this behavior over and over again. In life we are constantly practicing either new skills that eventually become natural reactions, or we continue to strengthen old habits. I encourage you to help yourself, your county road agency, and the CRA to actively practice the things that you want to be or become.

Jim Iwanicki, PE CRA President Engineer-Manager of Marquette County Road Commission

Crossroads


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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

MEMBER PROFILE

OAKLAND COUNTY

With the second-largest population among Michigan counties, Oakland County is a rather congested urban environment of 30 cities, 10 villages, 21 townships and many more unincorporated communities. Since the 1960s, the county’s population doubled from 600,000 to over 1.2 million residents, while traffic has nearly quadrupled – multiplying the challenges to the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC). Oakland County is home to nearly 39,000 businesses, along with celebrities including Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger, Kid Rock and Eminem, plus many professional athletes.

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And a few of them are on a first-name basis with an Oakland garages, seeking services on their local roads.

the RCOC has 756 miles of gravel roads to maintain, as well.

Despite the celebs and its status as a business hub, everything isn’t quite shiny and new at RCOC. Only 12.5 percent of Oakland’s local federal-aid roads are in good condition; roads that don’t qualify for federal funds are in worse condition.

SAFETY FIRST IN OAKLAND

Altogether, RCOC is responsible for maintenance on 2,700 miles of roads, plus 1,542 lane miles of MDOT roads. Managing director Dennis Kolar, PE, said it surprises many people to learn that

Hang around Kolar, also a CRA past president, long and you’ll hear him talk about safety. “Safety is everything we do – we start with that,” Kolar said. “We have congestion and we pay attention to that. When we relieve congestion, we get safety.” To understand RCOC’s emphasis on safety, you need to look at its history. In the 1960s, Oakland County’s rate of crash fatalities was

Crossroads


Facts:

JUST THE above both the state and national rates. But with 50 years of a safety-first focus, Oakland County has driven that rate down below the federal rate. “Our 2015 fatality rate was less than half both the state rate and the national rate,” Kolar said. “Had our fatality rate been the same as the federal rate, we would have 80 more people dead in our county in that one year.” “When I cite a 0.46 fatality rate per 100 million miles driven in our county, that doesn’t hit home. When I say 80 more people would have died last year, people pay attention,” he added. “That’s why we have such a safety focus.” Kolar recalls his first day on the job as a RCOC engineer in June of 1985. “I was immediately put out with a group of engineers and technicians on a team review, visiting sites, looking at crash data.” He never forgot those early lessons.

“We haven’t done it alone, our cities and villages have the same focus, and they look to us for ideas in how to improve safety,” Kolar said. “I also have to compliment our board members, not just the ones we have today.” “Once our board members drink the ‘safety Kool-Aid’ they rarely ask us to get involved in a political project. They know we are utilizing safety principles and crash data,” he said. On occasion, safety priorities can conflict with asset management principles, Kolar noted. “Say we want to convert an intersection to a roundabout, which could be a $2 million project. We could resurface a few miles of roads and improve our asset management data overall, but we’d rather improve safety.”

Office headquarters:

Beverly Hills

Staff: 407 full-time; 35 seasonal-winter; 16 seasonal-summer; 14 interns No. of commissioners: 3 (appointed) Miles of paved roads: 1,984 = 778 primary + 1,207 local Miles of unpaved roads: 756 = 67 primary + 689 local MDOT contract: Yes (1,542 lane miles) No. of bridges: 107 Annual budget:

$129 million (FY 2016-17)

DOING THE SAFETY DINNER

Local revenue:

$10.5 million

RCOC’s safety culture “permeates every function and every position at the road commission,” said Craig Bryson, APR, RCOC’s senior manager of communications and public information.

Annual snowfall:

43” average

“That goes to our workforce, as well,” Kolar continued. “The safety of our workforce, the equipment we buy them, how we do road closures... everything is safety first.”

From left to right: Rich Wood, superintendent; Dennis Kolar, PE, managing director; Mark Hirt, superintendent, at the safety dinner.

Road Commission for Oakland County

RCOC established: 1913 No. of garages: 6 Office built: 1970 Oldest vehicle: 1970 (dentist/realtor offices); RCOC bought in 1975. FUN FACT: In 2006 RCOC’s contractor unearthed a mastodon skeleton while working on Adams Road in Rochester Hills. It’s on display at Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills.

Each October, RCOC celebrates the agency’s success at a Safety Banquet. This past October was RCOC’s 56th annual event. At the dinner field employees are recognized with safe worker and safe driver awards, as calculated from preventable accident data kept throughout the year. Traveling awards are also presented to the maintenance and traffic safety divisions, as a friendly competition among the six RCOC garages and two Traffic-Safety Department divisions.

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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

LITERALLY, A TECHNOLOGY CORRIDOR Southeast Michigan has long been touted as Michigan’s high-tech corridor, and that includes vehicles and roadways – an advancement RCOC has embraced. “By using technology we’re making our roads safer, and it also makes us more efficient,” Kolar said. For 20 years RCOC has been a national leader with its advanced traffic signal system, which it named Faster and Safer Travel Through Routing and Advanced Controls (FAST-TRAC). “FAST-TRAC grew out of our realization that we would never be able to build our way out of congestion,” Kolar said. In the late 1980s RCOC’s then-managing director identified some fledgling road signal technology coming out of Sydney, Australia, and travelled there with engineering staff to study it. Aussies were using vehicle detection technology to continuously re-time traffic signals to address the amount of traffic present at each moment. RCOC installed its first FAST-TRAC signals in 1992, making it the first “adaptive” signal system on an arterial road system in the US. Today, RCOC uses FAST-TRAC at 700 intersections. Under the FAST-TRAC umbrella, RCOC was also the first road agency in the world to implement the Auto-Scope® camera system developed by a professor at the University of Minnesota.

Society of Michigan. Kolar was president of ITS Michigan in 2014, and helped bring ITS World Congress and over 10,000 global ITS professionals to Detroit for the first time. KNOWING YOUR NEIGHBORS IN THE BIG CITY Another hallmark of the Road Commission for Oakland County is getting involved politically, at the state, local and Congressional levels. That’s important since the county has 19 State Representatives and Senators. “One of the first things we do early on, is whoever is running for office and appears to be gaining ground, or after they’re elected, we invite them to come in for a one-on-one meeting with me, Gary Piotrowicz, our deputy director, Craig Bryson and at least one of our commissioners if possible,” Kolar said. “We want to educate them, tell them what we do, let them know if things come up … that we are always there to help. We try to get with them right out of the gate when they’re first elected,” he said. RCOC also produces a quarterly newsletter for its state and local officials, including planning commissions, to let them know what the road commission is doing. “I personally attend a lot of political functions, fundraisers, as do our commissioners. I try to get to know an official on a one-on-one basis. For the ones who are receptive, we build a relationship,” Kolar said.

THE OVERTIME BREAKFAST The “Overtime Breakfast” is an important annual employee ritual at the Road Commission for Oakland County. “With that breakfast we’re celebrating drivers who work 90 percent or better of the overtime that is assigned to them,” said managing director Dennis Kolar. “We have 160 drivers who qualify for that award, but about 40 of them who actually get to attend the breakfast.” “If you as a driver have worked 100 percent of the overtime assigned to you, you get a jacket,” Kolar explained. Drivers who worked a lesser percentage of their overtime get lesser awards plus being invited to the breakfast. “It’s just something nice we do for our drivers. We recognize the difficulty of the job,” Kolar said. “You could be just sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner and you get the call to come in and plow or salt the roads,” he said. “Those who have made 90 percent of their overtime have made a big personal sacrifice to keeping our roads safe.”

With metro Detroit still the hub of the US auto industry, connected and autonomous vehicles are being developed in the area and RCOC must accommodate them. In 1991 RCOC helped found the Intelligent Transportation

RCOC attendees at 2015-2016 overtime breakfast

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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

THE ROAD TO

EDUCATION runs through many county road agencies When Mallory joined the Iron County Road Commission a couple of summers ago she didn’t know what to expect. “My brother had worked here for a couple years prior to me, and he seemed to enjoy it. I was looking forward to the money to help pay for college, but I really didn’t know if I would enjoy it like he did,” said Mallory. By summer’s end, she was thinking a bit differently about the roles and responsibilities and the careers at a county road agency. “I really did end up enjoying it. There were some long, hot days patching and crack filling, but it was worth it. Learning new jobs, taking on new responsibilities, and 10

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on most days actually having fun. I got the opportunity to operate a few pieces of equipment that I had never been around. That was interesting,” Mallory said. "I also got to see some of the county that I hadn’t had the chance to get to, and worked with some really great people.”

If the next generation holds the keys to a prosperous Michigan, then county road agencies are riding along in the front seat. Every year, county road agencies across the state invest training time, energy and dollars into college students interested in working on the local road system.

Crew taking their lunch break from crack filling. Front, left to right – Lizzi Pellizzer (Northern Mich. University.), Mallory Tomasoski (MSU); back, left to right – Rachel Malmquist (Northern Mich. University.) and Maria Stankewicz (Central Mich. University.).

In return, the agencies get: Energy, new ideas and the satisfaction of impacting the next generation. IRON COUNTY’S INTERNSHIP PROGRAM TURNS 25! Located in the central time zone in the western Upper Peninsula, the Iron County Road Commission is responsible for 633 miles of local and primary roads. The county is unique in that it borders nine other counties, six in Michigan and three in Wisconsin–more neighbors than any other Michigan county, to be sure. Iron County obviously has a long history of mining, as well as logging. Durable roads are key to creating jobs that support the county’s 5,600 households, which are concentrated in four cities and a village. And while Iron County doesn’t have a college, the Iron County Road Commission (ICRC) does have an incredibly robust on-the-road internship program for college students. “Our internship program has existed for more than 25 years,” explained Doug Tomasoski, PE, ICRC superintendent Crossroads


and manager. Originally, the program was created for the sons and daughters of road commission employees, but eventually ICRC had more demand and began advertising and also hiring students who weren’t related to staff.

couldn’t employ our regular people full time.” Today, the internship program is healthy and possibly one of the longest-running college intern programs at a county road commission.

Learning new jobs, taking on new responsibilities, and on most days actually having fun."

During this same timeframe about a decade ago, the local prison which had provided “trusty” crews to ICRC was closed. At that point, the road commission decided to double the size of the internship program out of fiscal necessity. ICRC hasn’t had a problem hiring 10 or more students who desire meaningful work experience on Michigan’s transportation system, except in 2006. That year, the recession and ICRC’s financial difficulties put a kibosh on the internship program. “We had some week-long shutdowns that summer, and we didn’t hire any summer help,” Tomasoski said. “It wasn’t right to hire seasonal workers or interns, when we

Tomasoski was himself a recipient of a $700 scholarship from the U.P. Road Builders Association many years ago, which encouraged him on his path to becoming a licensed professional engineer. (See scholarships sidebar on next page.)

PUTTING STUDENTS TO WORK ICRC’s internship program gets underway each May and lasts for 16 weeks. It accepts only post-high school students, swelling the full-time staff from 17 to 30 people. Students are allowed to work a maximum of five summers for ICRC, and they must re-apply for seasonal employment each summer after that. “The majority of the students in our internship program come through the two school systems in the county: West Iron County and Forest Park,” said Tomasoski, who has also supported area youth by coaching local Wykons teams over the years.

Tasks performed by interns are seriously hands-on. Patching and crack-sealing roads under the tutelage of a full-time crew leader. “Some students actually tell us that working here made them want to work harder to get their degrees because they discovered that such difficult labor was not for them!” Tomasoski said. “It made them appreciate what we do.” RECRUITING AND TRAINING Tomasoski prefers to let word-of-mouth lead students to ICRC, and finds that a solid 25-year-old internship program requires very little promotion to hire a dozen good interns. “Students mostly learn about the program from their friends and classmates, although we do advertise every year in the local paper,” Tomasoski said. “We don’t send anything directly through the schools.” Most of the interns attend Michigan Technological University in Houghton and Northern Michigan University in Marquette, although others have come from Central Michigan University, Michigan State University, and other colleges in Michigan and Wisconsin. ICRC invests in training for the students, which helps them learn about the types of work performed by county road agencies. In addition to patching and crack-sealing, students learn how to use loaders and the principles of ditch maintenance including brushing, weed whacking and other tasks that improve safety and protect the roadbed. “Years ago we had one or two students in the office that assisted our construction technician and were out helping to do surveys and staking out jobs,” Tomasoski said. “Our students have done a wide variety of jobs over the years.” With the additional student power, full-time employees can focus on some of the larger, complex road and bridge projects.

Mallory Tomasoski (Michigan State Univ. student) and Lizzi Pellizzer (Northern Michigan University. student) posing with the new sign they assisted in installing at the Iron County Road Commission office in Iron River.

micountyroads.org

“Downsizing over the years has left us with about half the staff that we used to have,” Tomasoski said. “The students allow you to do more work over the summer, keep the full-time workers focused on their job descriptions and we’re giving the students a more meaningful experience to build their resumes.” Winter 2016

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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

This past summer ICRC hired 13 interns. Twelve of them were female, with the only guy hired being a mechanic assistant to work in the garage.

From silent auctions to raffles and donations, county road agencies are supporting road-related scholarships

In an industry that sees mostly men in jobs and internships, the large number of women entering the Iron County Road Commission internship program was welcomed.

In addition to the many road agency internship programs across the state, Michigan’s 83 county road agencies are actively engaged in raising funds for scholarships that change students’ lives – and possibly pave the way for future managing directors, foremen and engineers on the local road system.

GIRL POWER!

Why the change from mostly male to female applicants? Tomasoski’s guess is variety. “I don’t think our local demographics in the county have changed drastically. But I have found in recent years the female-to-male intern applicant ratio has completely flipflopped,” he commented. ICRC women interns told Tomasoski that decent pay, knowing someone who enjoyed working there previously and avoiding “stereotypical jobs” such as waitressing were their motivations for applying to the program. CREATING INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS “I would certainly recommend other county road agencies implement internship programs,” Tomasoski said. “Every organization is run a bit differently, but from our experience if they have the financial means and the resources they should consider it.”

NORTHERN MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF ROAD COMMISSIONS

UP ROAD BUILDERS ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIP AND INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

The Northern Michigan Association of Road Commissions, which includes 33 road commissions, has partnered with Ferris State University (FSU) for 41 years.

The UP Road Builders Association gives scholarships to fifth-year Michigan Technological University students for $1,000. In addition, the Association also provides one paid summer internship annually for a MTU student.

NMARC established a Northern Michigan Association of Road Commissions Endowed Scholarship at FSU in 1975, which also benefitted from a sizable endowment in 1998. “The scholarship supports students majoring in heavy equipment, accounting construction management, surveying and civil engineering,” said Joyce Randall, managing director of the Mecosta County Road Commission and immediate past Secretary/Treasurer of NMARC. g 50 scholarships have been awarded since 1975. g Over $24,000 has been raised since 2006. For the next six years until 2022, the Ferris Foundation will match 100 percent of scholarship donations over $1,000.

The scholarship wasn’t always a scholarship. “Originally, it was set up as a loan fund for students without enough money to go to college and the students would pay it back,” said Kevin P. Harju, PE, engineer and manager for Houghton County Road Commission (HCRC). “Surprisingly, to my knowledge no one ever defaulted.” “We changed to a scholarship because the university wanted to handle the funds; it was more secure to have it as a scholarship,” Harju said. 2016 UP ROAD BUILDERS ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS g Drew B. Roberts, Marietta, GA

Kylee Erickson (University of Michigan student) patching along the Lake Ottawa Road in southwest Iron County.

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2016 NMARC SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

g Aaron J. Nelson, Calumet, MI

g Rami Tamimi, junior in Surveying and Engineering

g Joshua A. Harju, Laurium, MI

g Charles S. Hubbard, Marquette, MI

g Noah Angileri, junior in Surveying and Engineering

g Alexandria L. Lakenen, Marquette, MI

To contribute to the NMARC Scholarship visit www.ferris.edu/giving or contact Karen Weber in the FSU Office of Advancement for the College of Engineering Technology at 231-591-2895.

The UP Road Builders Association also contributed $500 each to three internships in 2016. 2016 awards were made in May.

g Allen D. VanDenBoom, Lincoln, MI

To contribute to the UPRBA Scholarship fund, donations can be sent to HCRC.

Crossroads


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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

NEW

INVENTORY-BASED RATING SYSTEM PILOT TESTED IN 2016 HOW DO INVENTORYBASED RATINGS WORK? The uniform PASER road rating system used across most of the US doesn’t work for unpaved roads because their conditions literally change with the weather and how recently the grader has run down the road. The new IBR system developed by Michigan Tech’s CTT has determined that three primary conditions correlate with the condition of an unpaved road: g Surface width, detailing travel width and shoulder width, measured in feet; g Drainage adequacy, assessing the presence or absence of a secondary ditches for draining, and the road’s surface water retention; and

Unpaved road rating system developed by Michigan Tech brings asset management principles to unpaved Michigan roads FINALLY – THE TOOLS TO RATE AN UNPAVED ROAD Gravel and unpaved roads make up half of Michigan’s nonfederal aid network, and there are 22,000 miles of them in Michigan. While the national Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PASER) system works well for rating and assessing surface conditions of asphalt, concrete and sealcoat roads, it doesn’t work for ever-changing unpaved roads. Unpaved road surfaces vary widely. A significant rain, heavy traffic, ice and other factors can change the surface condition dramatically.

g Structural adequacy, which considers large potholes and gravel depth.

As a result, finding a metric system to rate unpaved roads has proved elusive until very recently.

Each IBR category is measured by a specific set of values that are easy to identify. Raters use Good, Fair or Poor for each.

In the last few years the staff at Michigan Technological University’s Center for Technology and Training (CTT) have been working to solve this problem. As a result of a project funded by the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council

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(TAMC), CTT has pioneered a new rating system for unpaved roads, called the inventorybased ratings (IBR) system. In early 2015, CTT went searching for a wide variety of county road agencies willing to pilot the new rating system on some of their unpaved roads, and help tweak it to be effective for efficient assessment of this important road asset. Five county road agencies volunteered for the pilot: The Antrim County Road Commission (ACRC), Baraga County Road Commission (BCRC), Huron County Road Commission (HCRC), Road Commission of Kalamazoo County (RCKC) and the Van Buren County Road Commission (VBCRC). THE RESULTS ARE IN! After using IBR for unpaved roads, pilot agencies are optimistic about the future of rating unpaved local roads. Doug Mills, PE, BCRC engineer-manager, said unpaved roads conditions have been tough to assess objectively

over the years due to changing surface conditions. “Somehow, some way, county road agencies need to quantify the condition and needs of unpaved roads,” said Mills. “Because things change so frequently, systems that were in place for other assets were inadequate. IBR has changed that, giving us a great starting point for future improvements.” As a rural county with around 260 miles of unpaved roads, VBCRC has been rating all of the roads in its jurisdiction since 2010. Following the pilot IBR rating period, VBCRC account clerk Linnea Rader, said that “rating gravel roads with the IBR system provides a better way to prioritize maintenance and reconstruction efforts similar to that of the asphalt system.” With funding limiting county road agencies’ ability to upgrade unpaved roads to pavement anytime soon, it’s important to have a rating tool to establish the true funding need to maintain unpaved roads and to allow a true asset management approach to managing them. Crossroads


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT County road agencies themselves aren’t the only ones benefitting from the information IBR has been able to provide on unpaved roads and asset management. RCKC’s managing director Joanna Johnson – who also serves as chair of the state’s Transportation Asset Management Council – was pleased to see how consistency and accuracy has helped her county in presenting information to local officials. “We have been using the pilot project results with our meetings with local officials and at township meetings,” said Johnson. “We are excited to build our gravel roads asset management data into our normal asset management program. These roads cannot be forgotten and are key to our overall network.”

VBCRC staff has also seen a positive impact on community relations and education initiatives thanks to the complete picture IBR helps to provide. “We are working to educate the 18 townships within Van Buren County to understand asset management in general,” said VBCRC account clerk Linnea Rader. “Having a system in place to better rate the gravel roads that is similar to the asphalt rating system makes educating officials a little easier; once they understand asset management, both rating systems work into creating a full Road plan for all roads, not just asphalt,” Rader concluded. SMOOTHING OUT THE BUMPS IN THE ROAD Pilot participants report that the new unpaved IBR rating

system was easier to apply than anticipated. Pilot agencies effectively rated between 6.3 and 28.3 miles of unpaved road per hour, including transit time between unpaved road sections. The system has also shown a high degree of accuracy, with 92.9% of all ratings coming within one point of ground truth, with raters that had only used the system for a day or two. Outside travel times for rating unpaved roads, training employees on the system was the biggest challenge counties faced. With IBR already included in the frequently used RoadSoft Asset Management system, staff was familiar with the basic software and had few problems using the three-part IBR rating. Michigan Technological University CTT director Tim Colling is hoping more county road agencies begin rating

TRAINING INFORMATION RoadSoft has already been updated with IBR for unpaved roads. Online training sessions for IBR will begin this winter. Watch CRA’s Engineering Update for details. For more information, contact the Michigan Tech Center for Technology and Training at (906) 487-2102.

unpaved roads in the near future, even though there are no additional state or federal funds to assist in this extra activity. Having a better understanding of the needs of Michigan’s significant unpaved road system will be helpful from the Keweenaw Peninsula to Lansing.

CRA Takes the Red Carpet – Redux CRA was honored again at the 2016 Michigan Society for Association Executives (MSAE) Diamond Awards, bringing home a Gold Award and Honorary Mention for Crossroads magazine and suite of e-newsletters respectively. THE NEW FACE OF CRA COMMUNICATIONS Crossroads magazine, along with In the Loop, Engineering Updates and Legislative Updates, represent the new face of communications at CRA. Prior to the rebranding and reorganizing CRA’s communications, members were surveyed on communication effectiveness in 2013. At the time 51 percent of respondents said they were not receiving adequate information from CRA in organization communications. In a 2016 member survey, 96 percent of CRA members said they receive adequate communication on all combined platforms. This is a 45 percent improvement in communication effectiveness since the 2013 reorganization, and was recognized by the MSAE judging panel.

micountyroads.org

CRA communication specialist Christina Strong and CRA Student Assistant Dustin Earley accepted CRA’s Gold Award and Honorary Mention at the 2016 MSAE Diamond Awards in Plymouth in September.

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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

Ask MDEQ MiWaters makes getting your ducks in a row a whole lot easier

Being efficient and effective means embracing technology of the 21st Century. MiWaters is the new comprehensive water programs database developed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and launched in August 2015. MDEQ says the benefits of the new system for county road agencies are: 1. ELECTRONIC APPLICATIONS. Makes it easier for county road agencies to apply for permits and see status updates. 2. IMPROVED SECURITY. Allows county road agencies flexibility in giving someone full access or read-only access to an application. Also provides a record of who has made changes to the application.

“Now people can easily submit applications and see applications submitted. County road commissions can apply for a bridge or culvert replacement directly through MiWaters,” he said. County road commissions that have employed the database have seen the benefits. “The intent is certainly noble. To have access to see where things are progressing along is great,” said Gladwin County Road Commission county highway engineer James M. Wyniemko, PE. “I submitted three or four permits. There is a learning curve, no doubt about it. But once you get over the learning curve it’s not too bad.”

“Yes, we anticipated there would be some ‘bugs’ and there have been. But we are continuously improving it,” Silagy said. “I like to think a year from now it will be a lot better to use. We are all learning.” MDEQ encourages county road agency employees to give the database a try. MiWaters is available online at https:// miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/miwaters/#/ external/home.

QUESTIONS? If you have questions on the new MiWaters database, contact Jeff Silagy, transportation review specialist for MDEQ Water Resources Division at 989.370.1569; silagyj@ michigan.gov.

MDEQ acknowledges some glitches, but is working to fine-tune the program.

3. ONLINE COMMENT SUBMISSION. MiWaters is a great way for county road agencies to give feedback to MDEQ. And the public can view and comment about proposed projects. 4. STREAMLINING APPROVALS WITH THIRD-PARTY TOOL INTEGRATIONS. Allows MDEQ staff to access lists such as threatened/endangered species and third-party resources (e.g., Google Earth) all in one platform. Reduces application processing time. MiWaters replaced the Coastal and Inland Waters Permitting Information System (CIWPIS), which held 30 years of files. These older files are now part of MiWaters and can be viewed by the public. “As a regulatory agency with several water programs, we combined these databases into one,” said Jeff Silagy, transportation review specialist for MDEQ Water Resources Division.

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Jeff Silagy from MDEQ hopes county road agency employees will try the new MiWaters program, which simplifies and speeds up the application process.

Crossroads


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Winter 2016

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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

innovation

ia CREATIVE IDEAS Alley

Every year county road agencies are experimenting with ways to improve the 90,000 miles of roads for which they’re responsible. And 2016 was no exception. Whether it’s new treatments that stretch dollars, trialing new products, adapting ideas from other states or some other innovation, the licensed engineers employed at most county road agencies like to think out of the box. Following is a quick snapshot of new ideas for surface treatments of roads that the Crossroads staff picked up on during recent travels across the state.

The 2015 road construction season was a time for experimentation by the Midland County Road Commission (MCRC), which coincided with the hiring of Terry Palmer, PE, as the agency’s new managing director. With only 22 percent of its federal-aid roads rated “good,” MCRC like most of its peers is looking for ways to make the dollars go farther. One important challenge faced by MCRC, and many road commissions, is old state concrete highways that were rubbleized (ground up due to extremely poor road conditions) and paved 20-plus years ago. While driving on one of MCRC’s old state roads in February 2015, Palmer noticed that parts of it that had been paved just 18 months earlier “rode” as poorly as sections that were about to be paved in 2015! He believed cracks from the rubbleized/ repaved roadbed had immediately cracked the new pavement. This allowed water to sit in the rubbleized pavement, causing a very rough ride in a short amount of time. Palmer decided to try three different treatments on this section of road, including the fiber mat technology he remembered using years earlier when he worked for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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“I remember that it slowed the cracking down; cracks were back in 10 years, rather than five,” Palmer commented. The surface treatments MCRC tested in 2015 were: 1) Micromilling the road surface to remove ½-inch of asphalt first. Then putting down a fiber mat, which is asphalt emulsion followed by cut fiberglass strands, followed by asphalt emulsions and chip stones as a cover. 2) Micromilling, applying the asphalt fiber mat and then topping it with an ultrathin overlay (¾-inch of asphalt). 3) Milling off 2 inches of the road, applying a standard chip seal and then 1.5 inches of asphalt as the finishing course. The third treatment – which Palmer has coined the “Sanford Underbody” (performed in Sanford, Mich.) is performing the best. “After one year, the ‘Sanford underbody’ has no cracks,” Palmer said. “We’ll review it year after year, but it would be a nice easy treatment for road commissions to do. It is about 20 percent more expensive, but I expect it to last 50 percent longer.”

“A vendor came in and talked about it while I was at the Roscommon County Road Commission office, during a lunch-time training session,” Palmer said. “I’d also heard about it being done in some cities.” “I thought ‘someone has got to try it,’" Palmer said. “Anytime we can try to extend the life of our pavement at the same cost as your traditional fixes we like to try it.” Palmer used the pavement fabric in 2016 on three different road sections, totaling about 2.2 miles. The first step in the process is to have a uniform base, with MCRC opting for either an existing 1.5 inches of asphalt pavement with a chip seal, or a new asphalt wedge layer if there were a lot of pothole patches. Hot liquid asphalt was applied on this base with a tractor (pictured) which then immediately rolled out a surprisingly white fabric onto the hot asphalt. This creates the sealing/crack relief layer. Then the wearing course of asphalt is paved on top of the fabric. “The cost of paving fabric is about the same as that of a chip-seal,” Palmer commented. “Yet we’re hoping to get 15 years out of this project, about 50 percent more than the life of a typical overlay.”

You’ve heard of landscape fabric … but paving fabric? For 2016, Palmer wanted to try a different technology. One of the ideas that Palmer wanted to try was paving fabric, which has the key advantages of sealing an imperfect road surface against water and adding strength to the surface.

Rockwell Drive – Leveling, fabric and overlay.

Crossroads


TO IMPROVE ROAD SURFACES Creating a little friction in Oakland County

overlay, which needed 30 days to cure. Then in mid-October, a contractor sprayed epoxy onto the road.

After identifying a particularly curvy road with a higher rate of run-off vehicles – including a road commission truck – the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) decided to try a new high-friction surface treatment this fall.

Using a fork-lift, the contractor then emptied bags of an imported Chinese aggregate into the chute of a fan-like device that blew the aggregate over the epoxy. After letting it sit four hours, the contractor blew off the excess. Although no new grant dollars were available, RCOC fully funded the $210,000 project. “When we see something that’s new and promising, we want to be the first to try it out,” said RCOC managing director Dennis Kolar, PE. “We expect to see fewer run-offs at this location this winter.” Public information specialist Cindy Dingell commented that “of all the project sites I’ve ever been on, this was one of the most positive. Residents were excited to see the road commission trying something new.”

RCOC’s contractor applies a new, high-friction surface treatment to a curve on Clarkston Road in Independence Township.

A one-third mile section of Clarkston Road has a series of curves that have run-offthe-road accidents year around, although the problem is worse in rain and winter, according to Gary Piotrowicz, PE, RCOC deputy managing director and county highway engineer. “To address the problem we started with raised pavement markings, increased our signage and then added flashers to warn drivers in this area, Piotrowicz said. “We continued to see the run-offs occurring so we looked around for other options.” What RCOC found was a new high-friction surface treatment being touted under the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts campaign. The first step was to improve the deteriorating road segment with an asphalt

micountyroads.org

be more environmentally friendly,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, it did not hold the stone. When we applied a new layer of CM 90 and stone over it, the asphalt simply would not ‘set up’.” “So in June 2016, when it started to warm up, people started calling and saying they were tracking tar into their homes, that it was splashing up onto their cars,” Brown said. “We thought that after enough cycles of heating and cooling, the product would finally set up. It never did.” ACRC alerted the contractor, who came back and applied the microsurfacing treatment later this summer. Microsurface, as Brown explains it, is a very fine material consisting of cement, emulsified asphalt and polymers, and then applied via a spreader over the top of the road, 3⁄16 to ½ inch thick, usually in two lifts (layers).

Micro-surfacing the road in Allegan County For the first time in his 39 years at the Allegan County Road Commission (ACRC), managing director Larry Brown, PE, had a contractor apply a microsurface in 2016, as the second half of a two-step cape sealing project. Typically, the key advantages of a microsurface treatment are… g Lower cost than a typical 2-inch hot-mix asphalt (HMA) overlay; g Very smooth texture that is friendly to subdivision rollerblading and other recreational activities; and g Less road noise. In this case, ACRC’s microsurface was implemented to correct three miles of a chip-seal project gone wrong in 2015. “We gave a contractor permission to do two chip-sealing projects in 2015 with an experimental asphalt that was supposed to

Fiber Matt installation on Saginaw road East of Coleman in Midland County.

“It did stop the bleed-through,” Brown reports, adding that he expects the microsurface to last five or six years. If it does, ACRC is likely to use it in additional locations in the future. Brown says microsurface is a good treatment for roads that have a minimal cracking, minor rutting and acceptable width and need a surface treatment.

Winter 2016

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Winter 2016

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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

L E G I S L AT O R P R O F I L E

SEN. GOEFF HANSEN

townships and county road agencies. It’s important. That partnership is what keeps roads running.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation Chair We caught up with Senator Goeff Hansen, following a Senate Appropriations meeting at the state Capitol. Crossroads talked with the Senator about roads and road commissions. Senator Hansen's district includes the Muskegon County Road Commission, Newaygo County Road Commission and the Oceana County Road Commission.

CRA: What is your relationship with the road commissions in your district (Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana. Has the relationship changed following your election to the Michigan Legislature? SEN. HANSEN: I have a strong relationship with many commissioners and managers. I try to reach out to the folks who are the experts in the field to gain a better understanding of issues as a I work to legislate for improvements. CRA: Has your relationship with road commissions had an impact on the transportation votes you have participated in since your election? SEN. HANSEN: Absolutely, I have road commissioners who are friends; they have my cell phone number and they will call me with questions or suggestions. The relationship

is back and forth. I’m happy to talk about anything that comes up. We need to utilize the people who are in the field. They understand what’s going on and what we’re trying to accomplish. I have three road commissions in my district. I trust them to give it to me straight, so at the end of the day we can be sure we’re moving things forward. CRA: Much of your district is rural and agricultural, what are you anticipating from the additional transportation revenues coming to your community? SEN. HANSEN: For improvements with county and local road systems, we need to look at bridges, culverts, upkeep and the sides of our roads. With my background as a township supervisor, I understand local roads. I try to ensure there’s a good relationship between

SEN. GOEFF HANSEN … FROM THE FAMILY GROCERY BUSINESS TO THE STATE SENATE Starting his first job in the family grocery business while in high school, Sen. Goeff Hansen never saw his future in public office. It wasn’t his life ambition. Then he was appointed to the Bear Lake Village Council in Manistee. He found out he could really make a difference, helping people and changing lives.

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Winter 2016

CRA: Is the road commission your go-to source for transportation legislation? SEN. HANSEN: As chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, road commissions play an important role in making sure counties and locals get the money they need. I’m very concerned with what they’re doing, our local roads are the ones that have deteriorated the most. CRA: With the many challenges county road agencies endure, why should they be required to absorb costs related to outside purposes such as permits and installation oversight, bonding for potential damage? SEN. HANSEN: At the end of the day, people have to know what permits are going to cost. We have to have some kind of structure in place so as not to stymie progress.

Starting in public service is addictive, said Hansen. For more than 20 years, Hansen has given back to the community, volunteering as a firefighter, emergency medical technician and coaching school sports. In moving back to Hart, Hansen ran for township supervisor. Helping an area legislator get elected prompted him to consider the possibility of running himself. He was encouraged to run for state representative, which led him to Lansing … and the rest is history.

Crossroads


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Winter 2016

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The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

NEW MILLAGE CAMPAIGN RESOURCES

CRA introduces

for county road agencies With new state funds on the way to county road agencies next spring, at first blush it seems ironic that this actually increases the need for local contributions, in most cases. But road commissions and most local government officials understand why the two funding sources go hand-in-hand. LOCAL DOLLARS WILL ALWAYS BE NEEDED

PURSUING A LOCAL ROADRELATED MILLAGE The first thing to remember is that a county road commission or department may not advocate for a road-related millage, and should avoid the appearance of advocacy when speaking in public settings or printing information or handouts. This includes writing or asking the public to “vote yes” or using the word “vote.”

Local funds are needed because Michigan law says a county road agency can spend no more than 50 percent of its MTF (state) funds on local road improvements, with or without local matching funds. The maximum agency cap of MTF Funds may be reduced by the agency based on the type of improvement or its fiscal status. So when a road commission and a township agree on a project, even with new road funding that allows more projects, there must be adequate local matching funds to support the additional projects. Estimates from CRA, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association indicate that $473 million local dollars are used to maintain, preserve and improve roads in the state every year. Local government contributions can be from city/village/township/county general fund revenue, special assessments, grants, publicprivate partnerships or millages.

An interesting footnote: When road-related millage renewals pass, they do not squeak by; they’re approved by an average of 70 percent of voters.

Delivering a clear message on a road millage to the voting public means having attractive, easy-to-read communication pieces available. As governmental bodies, county road agencies may simply provide the facts about road conditions, cost and prioritizing of projects, what may be achieved with a certain funding level and other factual items that require the road agency’s expertise.

When a county commission or a local township has decided to put a road-related millage on the ballot, CRA has assembled two new communication items to help communicate the facts of the local road situation:

That said, what are some common factors in obtaining a locally-supported road millage? Some of the key elements include:

g The “MI Local Roads” logo; and

g Simple ballot language; g Identification of uses of proposed millage funds; g Transparency in use of millage funds;

But many more counties, along with townships, cities and villages aren’t in a position to consider a local road millage.

The County Road Association’s (CRA) analysis of local road millages shows that once passed and residents can see their dollars at work on local streets, roads and bridges, they are usually very supportive of continuing them.

Winter 2016

In 2016, over 80 percent of the 83 roadrelated millages on the ballot were renewed.

CRA MAKES NEW MILLAGE TOOLS AVAILABLE

In the last decade, the number of countywide road-related millages in Michigan has increased from 11 counties to 28. Some of these same counties also have individual or multiple township-wide millages.

28

In an analysis of the August 2014 election, CRA found that 100 percent of county-wide road-related millages were renewed; and 92 percent of all 153 road millages on the ballot were renewed, whether city, village or township. In addition, two-thirds of new or increased road-related millages were passed.

g A two-sided customizable postcard. These tools replace the former CRA “Local Roads Matter” materials, which was used around the timeframe of Proposal 1 and has now been retired.

g Consistent and regular messaging; and g Strong, year-round community engagement;

TO REQUEST THE NEW MATERIALS contact Christina Strong, CRA Communication Specialist at 517.482.1189; cstrong@micountyroads.org.

Crossroads


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Winter 2016

29


The Quarterly Journal of the County Road Association of Michigan

EDITOR’S NOTE One of the best parts of my job is visiting county road agencies across the Great Lakes State!

In my visits to road agencies and their regional council meetings, I’ve discovered tremendous ingenuity and diversity.

I’ve set out to visit all 83, which is going to take a while.

Our Innovation Alley in this issue describes some of the paving innovations being tested this year and last.

But after every visit I drive home amazed at the creative things the different road commissions and road departments are doing. At my age, I’ve learned that nothing is as simple as it looks at first glance. Raising 4-H pigs? Growing apples? Paving a road? Deciding what types of aggregates and other materials work best? Partnering with local governmental units and the private sector? Respecting local industries and resources, local culture and the local political environment? All of these questions – and countless others – are more complex the closer you get involved with them. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all approach to transportation, making the county road agency the ideal regional hybrid approach to roads. Bigger than a township, smaller than the state. And necessarily collaborative with townships, cities, villages and local businesses. This is the skill set of the county road agency.

If you’re regular Michigan driver, you simply know the road rides smoothly or it doesn’t. But if you’re the road commission, you must consider what’s under the road, the qualities of the existing surface, what type of overlay will work best, what you can afford and what treatment gives taxpayers “the most bang for the buck.” Sometimes a new idea works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Mistakes can be very costly and very public. But experimentation must be part of the job if we’re to move local roads ahead. That said, we at the County Road Association of Michigan wish all our road agency members, associate members, elected officials, fans and stakeholders a wonderful holiday season. We’ll be out on the road, keeping it safe.

Denise Donohue, CAE, APR

Key transitions at… Road Commissions and Departments Lloyd Gowell has joined the Oceana County Road Commission replacing Gary Tate as a commissioner.

Changing Lanes

Brad Stauffer has joined the Schoolcraft County Road Commission as Manager. Brad comes from Roscommon County Road Commission. Mark Timmer has joined the Oceana County Road Commission as Managing Director. Mark was previously with the Muskegon County Road Commission. Sandy Griffin has changed roles to Clerk.

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Winter 2016

Mile Marker Kay Newberry retired from Michigan County Road Commission SelfInsurance Pool after 17 years of service.

In Memoriam On October 3, 2016 Don Bennetts, chairman of the Gogebic County Road Commission, passed away. Don was a member of the road commission for over nine years.

Crossroads


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Crossroads Winter 2016 Quarterly Journal  

County Road Association of Michigan Quarterly Journal

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