UPDATE: Jackson County seeks to replace aging plow truck fleet


UPDATE 7:35 p.m. – The plow trucks were approved unanimously without discussion by Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

The Jackson County Department of Transportation (JDOT) can now spend $3.2 million to buy 14 new plow/road repair trucks.

JDOT officials say they’ll submit truck orders soon and they hope the new trucks will arrive for the next winter plowing season.

The department wants to replace their entire fleet of 76 vehicles over the next 10 years.

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — They help keep our roads safe in all kinds of weather.

But a local road department says its trucks are falling apart.

Tuesday night, the Jackson County Department of Transportation is asking the county for millions of dollars to fix this problem.

6 News got a look at the condition of the vehicles before the vote takes place.

There was flurry of activity Tuesday afternoon at the JDOT maintenance garage as workers met the big demand of keeping the county’s plow and repair trucks on the road.

“They have frame and suspension issues, sometimes engine rebuilds, transmission rebuilds. With the deteriorating fleet, we’re overwhelmed,” said JDOT Managing Director Christopher Bolt.

Bolt says a reduction in state funds created this dire situation.

The department has been forced to make due with an older fleet of vehicles, some of them dating back to the mid-1990s.

JDOT bought 14 new trucks last year.

But now, they’re asking the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to approve a proposal that allows the transportation department to spend $3.2 million to buy 14 additional rigs.

While crews are busy clearing and patching up roads, they also have to worry about patching up their own vehicles.

JDOT worries this creates a dangerous scenario for drivers.

“Some of the floorboards are rusted out, so if you’re plowing snow for 8 hours, that driver is tired, and if his feet are frozen, if visibility is poor. Safety is paramount for our employees but also the motoring public,” Bolt said.

The managing director realizes this is a lot of money.

But he says MDOT will help with costs, and these new trucks will actually save money in the long run because they are more efficient and will reduce repairs.

Bolt says he’s worked with commissioners on this proposal and believes they’re on board.

“We have shown them the numbers, we have discussed the costs, all the options, and it’s clear that we cannot do nothing,” Bolt said.

JDOT currently has 76 vehicles in its fleet.

The department would like to replace all of those vehicles over the next 10 years.

6 News will have an update on how the county commission votes on this matter during our 11 p.m. report and WLNS.com.

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