Crystal Township approves brine contract with Road Commission

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 4:16 pm on Monday, March 14, 2016

Crystal Township Clerk Bob Naumann, right, explains his thoughts on a contract with the Road Commission of Montcalm County as Supervisor Chris Johnston listens. — Daily News/Cory Smith

CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — Residents in the Crystal area will again be receiving road treatments throughout the upcoming year on behalf of the Road Commission for Montcalm County.

Members of the Crystal Township Board voted 4-1 Wednesday evening, with Clerk Bob Naumann opposed, to approve a contract with the road commission for the application of brine on township roads.

According to the contract, three applications of brine — a mix of rock salt (sodium chloride) and magnesium chloride, dissolved in water to be sprayed on roads — is used most often to prevent dust from rising on dirt roads and to treat icy roads in the winter season.

The applications will consist of 1,650 gallons used per mile at a total cost of $33,433 to the township.

“We used to have a lot of complaints about dust in the township, but haven’t in the last few years,” Supervisor Chris Johnston said. “That’s substantial to me.”

Naumann was opposed because he wasn’t sure that all of the township’s roads are in the best of condition to receive brine.

“I don’t live on a dirt road … but in speaking to some people that do, they said the only times the roads get graded is before they get brine,” he said. “Is it worthwhile putting double passes of brine on a road that … hasn’t received gravel (in years)?”

Naumann said he’d like to ensure that roads that need brine receive it and those that need additional work are spared.

“It’s one or the other, we either have roads that are worth saving, or we have roads that need serious work,” he said. “Why are we spending $33,000 if it’s not doing any good?”

Board member Curt McCracken agreed with Naumann’s concerns about applying brine on roads that are in need of additional repair.

“If we have a bad May and we don’t get these roads in shape, we are wasting some of our money on that,” he said. “I think we need to let (the road commission) know what roads need work.”

Board members also reviewed but did not take action on possible road contracts with the road commission to perform repairs, as well as implement additional gravel to various township roads.

“We can look those roads over, drive those roads, and maybe next month we can decide what we want to do with them,”Johnston said.

Johnston pointed to streets in which the road commission and township have received verbal and written complaints about as an example of a road that needs work.

“Some of them are pretty rough shape … but other than that, we’ve got most of our streets in town done in the last three years.”

Naumann said he’d like to see maintenance performed on Lake Street from Main to Smith streets.

“There’s water that’s unable to leave the road, that’s just sitting there, because there is no crown on the road,” he said. “For $10,000, an excavator could be hired to ditch along the road. I think it would make an immense difference on the road.”

In speaking with Road Commission Superintendent-Manager Mark Christensen, Johnston said streets such as Park Street that are paved are being looked at for the future, with more priority currently being placed on dirt roads that need gravel.

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