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Barry County Road Commission Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I make my private road into a public road or get the BCRC to maintain my private road? (top)
Private roads cannot become public roads unless they are brought up to the BCRC’s current Requirements and Specifications for Plat Development. These are also the requirements for the construction of all new roads to be maintained by the BCRC. (see Plat Specifications)
- How do I get my gravel road paved? (top)
The level of funding provided to the BCRC by law is not sufficient to pay for the paving of gravel roads. Most of the upgraded gravel roads in Barry County were improved using private development funds, township contributions, or by special assessment districts. Although Township government has no responsibility for road maintenance or improvement, and does not receive any road tax money, they have been very supportive of county roads over the years, and you may wish to contact them to see if they have any plans to improve your road in the future. You can also obtain a Petition to set up a special assessment district to improve your road from your Township. When signed by the owners of 51 percent or more of the frontage on a road such a petition authorizes the Township to set up an assessment district, prepare plans and estimates of the work needed to pave the road, and hold public hearings regarding the proposed project. All properties accessing the road would share in the expense of the project, which could be spread over a period of up to ten years.
- How is the Barry County Road Commission funded? (top)
The main source of funding for the county road commissions is the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF). The Michigan Transportation Fund is comprised of the state fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees. The funds are distributed by the Michigan Department of Treasury using the following formula: 39.1% Michigan Department of Transportation, 39.1% County Road Commissions, 21.8% Cities and Villages. The 39.1% that all county road commissions receive is further split through a somewhat complex, state legislated formula based on road mileage, population, and vehicle registration fees. The result is the Barry County Road Commission annually receives approximately 0.3% of the total Michigan Transportation Fund.The second largest revenue source for the Barry County Road Commission is received from our 16 townships. Revenue from the townships is considered the key source of funding to the Barry County Road Commission. Township contributions are by far the largest non mandated revenue, and with out it the Road Commission would only be able to provide routine maintenance. Maintaining a strong working relationship with all townships has and will continue to be an important part of daily life at the Barry County Road Commission. (see Funding)
- What causes most potholes? (top)
Potholes mostly occur when snow and ice melt as part of Michigan’s seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. The resulting water then seeps beneath the pavement, through cracks caused by the wear and tear of traffic. As the temperatures cool to freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands below the pavement, forcing the pavement to rise. As the shallow divot occurs under the surface, the pavement breaks, forming a pothole. A pothole is typically fixed by cleaning out the loose debris and filling it with hot and cold asphalt patch. Potholes may be prevented by seal coating or crack sealing a road, which can prevent moisture from penetrating the pavement. For more information on potholes, please see this page.
- What happens if your mailbox is knocked over or damaged? (top)
Link to “Mailbox Policy“
- What should be kept in mind when shoveling driveways? (top)
Homeowners should be aware that shoveling or plowing snow from driveways into or across roads is illegal, because it can present a serious traffic hazard to motorists. Instead, pile the snow behind the curb or shoulder on your side of the road.Be sure to place snow to the right as you face the road, so plows will push it away from, rather than back into, the driveway entrance. It is also important to avoid vision obstructions. Care should be taken not to impede the flow of storm water from melting snow in the ditches or culverts. Citizens should also make certain that their trash containers are not placed to close to the edge of the road before snow removal has taken place.
- Which roads are plowed first? (top)
The priority for response to road conditions is determined primarily by traffic volume and surface types.Paved (hard surface) roads are first priority, with highest traffic volume roads being cleared first, and then the intermediate roads. The priority then shifts to subdivision streets and gravel roads. Salt or a sand-salt mixture is placed on icy paved roads and a sand salt mixture is applied to slippery areas on gravel roads.
- Why is my road not being graded? (top)
The unusual freeze-thaw cycles that characterize our winters significantly deteriorate many of the gravel roads in Barry County. Unfortunately, we are unable to grade effectively during this time of year due to the fact that the roads are frozen. When the temperatures rise into the thirties, some limited grading can be performed when the top few inches of the road begin to thaw. However, it should be noted that this type of grading will not produce a smooth road, but it will help to lessen the severity of many of the holes.The only other method that we can utilize this time of year is to patch the roads with gravel or limestone. This technique is very labor-intensive, time consuming, and expensive. Moreover, since the gravel that is placed in the holes cannot adhere to the frozen ground, it is also a very temporary fix. At best, we can improve a few of the very worst areas by putting down new material, but we simply do not have the manpower, the time, or the material to patch large areas.Summer Scraping
Summer scraping can be delayed by excessively dry weather and lack of sufficient moisture. To do a proper job of scraping in the summer time rain must penetrate into the gravel roads allowing the blades to work out the chatter bumps and potholes. If there is not sufficient moisture the blades can only penetrate the top few inches of the gravel, which does not alleviate the condition completely, and it makes for a very dusty road. Please understand that we are doing everything in our power to help alleviate the many miles of rough roads, but we are also very limited in what we can do. We understand your frustrations and thank you for your patience until warmer weather arrives and allows us to grade.
- What is Right of Way? What is it on my road? Can I do work in the Right of Way? (top)
All public roads are located within land which is referred to as road right-of-way. Within a typical road right-of-way, the following facilities can be found: the driving surface, roadside shoulders and ditch, public utilities, sidewalks, and traffic signs to name a few. Road right-of-way width is established by deed, statute, or through the platting process. Regardless, lands within the road right-of-way are reserved for use of the traveling public and maintenance of the county road system. Public roadways within Barry County, other than limited access freeways, State trunklines and roads within the incorporated boundaries of villages and cities are the jurisdiction of the Barry County Road Commission. As the agency with jurisdiction over the county road system, the Barry County Road Commission has a duty to look after the health, safety, and welfare of the public using county roads.The typical road right-of-way on county roads is 66 feet; this sometimes varies in older subdivisions.Any type of work or activity that is to be performed within the road right-of-way, other than lawn maintenance, requires a permit from the Barry County Road Commission. Common types of work that require permits are: driveway installations, driveway resurfacing, irrigation installation, ditch modifications, utility installations, tree removals, banner installations, and parades. Due to our duty to look after the health, safety, and welfare of the public using county roads, the Barry County Road Commission does not allow, but is not limited to, the following installations or activities within the road right-of-way: any activity that creates an unsafe condition for those using the roadways, installation of fences, planting of trees (unless the posted speed limit is 25 mph), filling of roadside ditches, installation of masonry mailboxes (unless the posted speed limit is 25 mph) and installation of unauthorized signs. “Encroachment Policy“
- My property taxes go up every year, so why doesn’t the Road Commission fix my road? (top)
The Road Commission does not directly receive any property tax funds. Most property tax revenue goes to the State of Michigan and local school districts to pay for school operations, while small amounts go to fund general County and Township government administration, with special voted millages going to fund certain functions like the county jail, township libraries, Central Dispatch (911), among others. The only tax money the Road Commission receives specifically for road maintenance comes from the Michigan Transportation Fund administered by the State of Michigan. State collected fuel taxes, license fees, and vehicle registration fees, including all of those that that you may pay, make up most of this fund, which is divided by law among the 83 counties and 534 cities and villages, with the State keeping about forty percent for their programs. Currently the Barry County Road Commission’s share of that fund is approximated 0.8 percent or about $2,400 per mile of rural County Local Road. While these funds allow us to provide basic services such as grading on gravel roads, pothole patching, and snow plowing, this level of funding doesn’t allow us to make significant improvements on most County Local Roads. The Road Commission actively seeks State and Federal grant funds whenever available, and encourages participation in road improvement projects by other agencies, and local Township Government. Unfortunately for most local roads, most grant programs target their funding to the main Primary County Roads, which in most cases are already paved and in fairly good condition, and most Township governments operate on a modest budget that can not provide the large amount of funds necessary to upgrade or pave many roads. (see Funding)
- People are always speeding on my road. How can I get the speed limit lowered and some signs put up to slow them down? (top)
The Road Commission 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 loosing 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) and townships. 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 MDSP 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.The responsibility for the establishment of speed limits on our county roads and roadways lies with the Michigan State Police, the Calhoun County Road Commission, and Township Boards as specifically outlined in the Michigan Vehicle Code. This requires a unanimous determination.Criteria and standards of normal conditions have been developed to determine what is to be considered the proper speed limit for a section of road. Traffic volume, daylight visibility hours and dry pavement conditions are all considered when determining an appropriate speed limit. Specific speed limits are based on a traffic study that includes the speeds drivers are traveling the road, accident patterns and history, the road’s physical characteristics, and surrounding land use.
- What is the speed limit on my road? (top)
The prima fascia speed limit on all county roads is 55 mph unless a traffic control order has been written for that road. If you live in a residential area your speed limit is set by the housing density on the road.
- Do I need a permit for a new driveway? Even if I do the work myself? How do I apply? My driveway needs a culvert; can I get one from the Road Commission? (top)
All new driveways must have an approved permit from the Barry County Road Commission, no matter who conducts the work. Driveways must meet the clear sight vision requirements stated in the “BCRC Driveway Policy and Specifications.”You can apply online or visit the Road Commission, the permit cost is $75 oe more for commercial drives. “Driveway Permit” A refund will be provided if your driveway is not approved.Your application will state whether or not a culvert is needed. Culverts to be used within the Barry County Road Commission Right-of-Way can be purchased at the Barry County Road Commission.
- Why are you cutting down trees on my road? What is that monster that is destroying the trees on my road? Is there any way to have my property skipped? (top)
The Barry County Road Commission cuts trees on a regular basis as a means of routine maintenance to increase the safety on our roads. In order to do this as cost effective as possible, we use a machine called a brush cutter. This machine does not leave a clean cut. We believe that the immediate visible damage, while very noticeable and extensive, is offset by the efficiency of the process. We also believe that the long term aesthetics are acceptable as the vegetation rejuvenates.The Barry County Road Commission does have a process by which landowners can maintain their own roadsides. This allows landowners to use equipment that will leave their roadside more aesthetically pleasing. If you would like to maintain your own roadside, please stop by the Road Commission and fill out a “No Cut Permit“. This permit will allow the Road Commission to identify those areas that landowners are maintaining. Landowners are given at least 45 days to have their roadside maintained before the Road Commission may return with the brushcutter.
- Can I fill in the ditch and plant trees in front of my property? (top)
NO. Please see the Right-of-Way information stated in question 9.
- I don’t want you to spray my roadside with herbicides. What can I do to prevent this from happening? (top)
Please obtain a “No-Spray Permit” from the Barry County Road Commission
- What are “All Season” roads? (top)
So called “All Season” roads are those that have been designed and built with additional strength and durability to withstand truck traffic loads all year long, and thus they are not subject to the reduced loading restrictions that are placed on most roads during the early spring in Michigan. All residential subdivision streets, most rural sealcoated roads, and all gravel surfaced roads Barry County are subject to a 25 percent reduction in allowable loading during the period each spring when thawing of the ground below the roadbed softens the roadbed and makes the surface susceptible to damage from heavy loads. “All Season Map“
- How can I get a Children Playing sign put up to protect my children? (top)
The Road Commission no longer places or maintains Children Playing signs, although there are still a few 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 sings 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 even older children to play in or near the road. Although we do not encourage their use, the Road Commission will issue a permit to a resident to install their own children playing sign near their home. There is no charge for the permit but the resident must agree to accept responsibility to place and maintain the sign in a safe manner.
- Why do you spread all that tar and gravel on the paved roads? There was nothing wrong with the road and now it is a mess!! (top)
The process you are referring to is sealcoating which most road agencies in Michigan use as a relatively low cost method of preserving existing pavement. 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 slag 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. (See this for more)
- How do I get a driveway sign? (top)
If you feel that you have an unsafe driveway please contact the Barry County Road Commission and we will check the sight vision of your driveway. If it does not meet the sight vision requirements, you are qualified to purchase a driveway sign at the current price. However, as with the children at play signs, studies show that these signs do not slow traffic speeds and may actually reduce safety.
- Why doesn’t my road get more dust control? (top)
The Barry County Road Commission only coordinates the dust control application in Barry County. Each Township determines the amount of dust control to be applied on each individual road, and how many times dust control will be applied each year.
- What is pulling shoulders, and why does it need to be done? (top)
Pulling shoulders is a maintenance procedure that takes place throughout the year, mostly in the early spring on gravel roads and in the fall on the paved roads. It is a process in which the motors grader travel down all the roads removing the high sods from the shoulders roads. When the shoulders of a road are to high and water sits on the traveled roadway, the BCRC pulls the high shoulders to allow the water to drain in properly into the ditches. On gravel roads the shoulders are pulled into the road and mixed back into the road with the existing gravel. Pulling shoulders does not always remove all of the water from the roadway, but it allows many roads to drain properly and prevent further damage to the road.
- Where do I get my address changed? (top)
The Barry County office of “Planning and Zoning“
- What are public and private roads? Which do I live on? Does the Road Commission maintain my road? (top)
A public road is any roadway and its associated right of way that is dedicated to public use. A public road is not necessarily a county – maintained road, but all county maintained roads are public roads. There are a limited number of roads throughout the county that are pubic roads that are not maintained by the Road Commission.A private road is a road owned and maintained by a private individual, organization, or company rather than by a government. Consequently, unauthorized use of the road may be considered trespassing, and some of the usual rules of the road may not apply. The most common type of private road is a residential road maintained by a homeowners association, co-op, or other group of individual homeowners. If you live on a private road the Barry County Road Commission cannot maintain your road.