GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As West Michigan braces for Thursday’s snowstorm, the Kent County Road Commission says it’s ready to keep the roads clear this winter. But with diesel prices hitting record highs, the county is paying more to do the work and plans to cut other projects down the road.

“We feel pretty comfortable because we have the staff we need, the trucks we need, it’s just that we’re going to pay more to do the same thing this year than what we’ve done in the past.” ,” said Jerry Byrne, deputy managing director of operations for the Kent County Road Commission.

Today, the Kent County Road Commission is paying $1.50 more per gallon of diesel than last year. That’s $620,000 more.

Trucks only get three to five miles per gallon, so they need to be refueled often.

“If you’re out there 12 hours a day and you’re getting three mpg in a big, wet snowstorm, you’re going to go through a lot of fuel,” Byrne said. “Some of these trucks have to be refueled during the day because they can’t run all day on gas.”

Byrne said the trucks use 300 to 500 horsepower.

“Your blade is down,” he said. “You have a plow down in front of you. You have a sander. It takes all that horsepower and makes the engine run.”

In addition, obtaining important materials is more expensive.

“Everything we get is trucked in,” Byrne said. “Either a truck, the salt comes in on a barge, is dumped in Ferrisberg or Muskegon and loaded on a truck. Almost everything we deliver here costs more because the truckers have to pay more for fuel.”

As truckers pay more for fuel, they pass those costs on to the road commission.

“It’s not just when we fill our trucks; that’s when all the vendors have to come here,” Byrne said. “And they get the same higher diesel prices. They have to pass it on to us, the customers.”

Higher diesel prices are forcing the county to cut back. There will be less road construction work this summer.

“The changes that we would probably look at are some of the larger resurfacing projects where we can save $200,000 or $300,000 on the project,” Byrne said.

“Maybe the road in front of your house won’t be done this year,” added Byrne. “It will have to wait until next year.”

But no matter what, Byrne says nothing will change this winter.

“We’re not going to take trucks off the road because we’re paying more for fuel,” he said. “We’re not going to lower that level of service.”

During the day, Byrne said they will have more than 100 trucks working 12-hour shifts. 40 trucks will operate at night.

Byrne said snowplow drivers need reliable fuel, and that’s more important than price. And at the end of the day, they’re focused on keeping the roads clear.

“It doesn’t matter if we pay $4 a gallon or $5 a gallon,” Byrne said. “It’s about doing the job as efficiently as we can.”

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