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Road ABCs and FAQs

Please note that policies and practices vary by county, and specific questions should be directed to your county road commission.

Hard Road Surfaces

Seal Coating is a relatively low-cost method of preserving low-volume pavements. This “seal” prevents water from freezing in the cracks and breaking up the pavement, causing potholes to form over time. Peastone is used to cover the emulsion in the cracks and provides a skid-resistant surface to improve safety.

Seal Coating is a surface treatment that does not fill any existing bumps, holes, or irregularities and does not improve “the ride”. Road agencies sealcoat roads that are in generally good condition rather than waiting for them to deteriorate to the point that extensive patching is necessary.

Note however, that as vehicles travel over the new surface small rocks may come loose under the tires. When a motorist encounters a newly chip sealed road, which will be marked with "Loose Gravel" signs, the best option is to reduce vehicle speed and keep room between all other cars.

All Season roads have been designed and built with additional strength and durability to withstand truck traffic year round. They are not subject to reduced load restrictions often placed on other Michigan roads during the early spring because they are built to withstand.

Seasonal Weight Restrictions are legal limits placed on the loads trucks may carry. During late winter and early spring, when seasonal thawing occurs, the maximum allowable axle load and speed is reduced to prevent weather-related breakup of roads. See Seasonal Weight Restrictions for more information.

Gravel, Dirt and Unimproved Roads

I live on a gravel road and would like to have it paved. How can I do that?

Primary Roads are selected for paving based on a pavement inventory rating system. This system takes into consideration the physical condition of the road, the average daily traffic and the physical ride quality of the pavement.

Local Roads are typically selected by townships based on concerns from the public and the funds available to cost share with the County Road Commission. Many local roads have been improved using private development funds, contributions from Township government or by special assessment charges on properties accessing a particular road.

By law, an initial road pavement in Michigan must be a mix of county and other dollars. Township governments have historically been supportive of county road repairs and you may wish to contact your local government about availability of funds for future road improvement plans.

You can also obtain a petition for your Road Commission to set up a special assessment district. When signed by 51 percent or more of owners who have property on a road, such a petition authorizes the Road Commission to set up a district, prepare plans, estimate costs and hold public hearings on the proposed project. All properties accessing the road would share the expense of the project, which can be spread over a period of up to ten years.

I cannot leave my windows open because of the dust. Who do I contact?

Dust control operations and policies vary by county. Typically townships share the costs of dust control with the road commission. Contact your township for specific answers on dust control applications.

Our gravel road is a mess. Can you do anything to clean it up?

Unfortunately, when frost comes out of the roadbed each spring things tend to get messy and remain that way until all the moisture comes out of it. The best solution is warm, dry temperatures and wind. If road commissions attempt to fix roads with a gravel top coat, it could make matters worse. Adding sand or gravel to fill a mud hole usually has little to no positive effect and only adds to the muddy mixture. Your best bet is to just wait it out.

Now that the frost has thawed, why are you pulling at the sod and making a mess on the gravel roads?

Road commission crews pull shoulders on gravel roads every spring before grass begins to grow in order to reclaim gravel that has been pushed to the shoulder. It also allows them to remove the berm on the roadside that keeps water from flowing off the road.

When are you going to grade my gravel road full of holes?

In the summer, roads are graded before having chloride applied. Road commissions also strive to blade gravel roads after it rains and the road has softened. There is not much that can be done in the winter months when frost is in the ground.

Who decides where traffic control devices are placed?

Traffic signs, pavement markings and traffic signals are placed after Road Commissions conduct engineering studies. To be effective, traffic controls should meet five basic requirements.