Evans: Wayne County road department ready for snow

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Romulus — Old Man Winter, Wayne County’s road department is ready for you.

“We’ve got the salt, we’ve got the employees, we’ve got people with the energy to do it and the skills to make it work well,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said Wednesday. “I think we’re ready.”

Evans made the remarks during a news conference at which he discussed the county’s efforts to prepare for the season’s snow and ice.

Evans said Wayne County has added 12 new snow removal trucks this year. Wayne County’s public services department is responsible for plowing nearly 5,000 lane miles of roadway and has 162 snow removal trucks.

Six of the new trucks are equipped with wing plows, plows on the side of the vehicles, which enable them to cover a swath that’s one-and-a-half times wider than conventional snow plows, officials said.

“We’re excited about the upgrades,” Evans said.

The county also plans to hire 30 new workers in its roads division. It is hosting job fairs for maintenance workers and equipment repair specialists for the department Thursday and Friday.

Thursday’s job fair runs 4-6 p.m. at the county’s Central Maintenance Yard, 29900 Goddard in Romulus. The second fair is from 10 a.m. to noon at the Wayne County Freeway Yard, 5811 Brush in Detroit.

Wednesday’s news conference was held at the Wayne County Department of Public Services’ Central Maintenance Yard on Goddard near Middlebelt.

Evans was joined by a handful of other county officials, including Beverly Watts, the department’s director; William Bantom, director of the department’s Roads Division; Richard Hodges, roads maintenance engineer for the division; and Anthony Bellinger, department manager for the division.

“We are ready,” Watts said. “If it snows right now, we’re at the ready.”

She also said the county has ready amassed 55,000 tons of salt.

Road departments of neighboring counties are also gearing up for winter. Last week, officials with Macomb and Oakland counties said they are hiring seasonal snow plow drivers and ample amounts of salt to hold the ice and snow on freeways and roads at bay.

In Wayne County, snow plow drivers must have a high school diploma and a Commercial Driver License with airbrake and tanker endorsements or able to obtain the tanker endorsement within 90 days of employment.

Equipment repair specialists must be licensed mechanics with five years of experience with automobiles or heavy trucks, a valid driver’s license and safe driving record, and able to become certified as a master mechanic within five months if not yet certified.

Watts said the snow plow driver jobs pay about $15 an hour. Mechanics get nearly $43,000 a year, according to the county’s website.

“It’s kind of surprising that a county that’s been in the financial shape that we were in, people don’t equate that with jobs being available, but there are,” Evans said. “Let’s see if we can marry those opportunities that are available.”

Evans also reminded motorists and residents Wednesday the county offers a website and smart phone app, Wayne County Compass, that provides information on which roads have been cleared of snow, where snow plow trucks are, where they’ve been as well as views from traffic cameras and from the cabs of 18 snow plow trucks.

“We don’t just want to tell the public that we’re out plowing the roads,” Bellinger said. “We want them to use Compass and see that we’re out there doing it.”