COVID-19 resources for county road agencies

As an essential service provider responsible for Michigan resident drivers, truckers, tourists and commercial businesses using the 90,000 miles of roads under county responsibility, the state’s 83 county road commissions and departments will remain on the job throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While it is definitely not ‘business as usual’ in these government offices, the staff at county road agencies are an essential government service and we are all committed to maintaining our transportation infrastructure in service to the public,” said Dave Pettersch, managing director of the Gladwin County Road Commission and president of the County Road Association of Michigan.

Some changes that are occurring at county road agencies:

  • Most have closed their doors to walk-in traffic, and are working with the public via email and phone calls.
  • Most staff are on the job blading and maintaining the roads, working on drainage issues typical of spring, many working in individually in a truck.
  • Board meetings are continuing, taking advantage of Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order relaxing requirements for public meetings.
  • Reductions to road work are being considered, realizing that less fuel is being purchased during these times.

“Road agencies are talking to one another and figuring out new ways locally to do our jobs and communicate with the public, while embracing the social distancing advisories from state and federal officials to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Pettersch said.  “It does help that winter storms are nearly past, but we are prepared for spring flooding, high winds and our other daily responsibilities out on the roads.”

County road agencies will handle all emergencies and much routine maintenance on the county road and bridge system, and in the 63 counties where counties are contracted to maintain the Michigan Department of Transportation system.

Questions specific to your area should be directed to your county road agency.  Also check their websites and social media for updates.

Following are several items of interest for road agencies regarding the COVID-19 situation.  Click the items below for more information or resources. Road agencies may also contact the CRA office at 517.482.1189, or CRA Director Denise Donohue at 517.896.7077.

Impacts of Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-81 waiving seasonal weight restrictions

Modifying seasonal weight restrictions to accommodate COVID-19 relief.  At present, many counties still have seasonal weight restrictions (SWR), which are implemented each March to protect local roads from excess weight during the spring thaw when roads are most vulnerable.  The EO 2020-81 requires county road agencies to waive these requirements for motor carriers and drivers of overweight vehicles providing direct assistance related to COVID-19 relief such as medical personnel or supplies, emergency food restocking and the like.  If this impacts you and you are travelling to a county still on SWRs, please contact the county(ies) directly for assistance.

Click here to view CRA’s map of counties and the status of seasonal weight restrictions.

Communicating with county road agencies during social distancing

Maintaining public contact without contact.  Most, if not all, road agencies have taken steps to reduce person-to-person contact including:

  • Closing to walk-in traffic.
  • Cancelling nonessential meetings.
  • Establishing conference call/virtual capabilities to accommodate public involvement in board meetings.
  • Updating social media with important information.
  • Issuing permits and facilitating other business transactions via email, US mail and phone calls, among other steps.

Residents needing to transact business with a road agency should call ahead to determine the best way to achieve their goals.

Protecting, assisting employees.  As with all businesses, county road agencies are undertaking some or all of these actions:

  • Posting bulletins, training staff and making materials available to clean frequently touched surfaces including steering wheels, doorknobs, countertops, keyboards and workstations.
  • Evaluating which staff can work remotely and accommodating those with children out of school or daycare.
  • Moving in-person meetings to conference calls or on-line platforms.
  • Dispatching workers from remote locations to avoid congregating in the workplace.

Michigan Gubernatorial Executive Orders impacting county road agencies

EO 2020-69 (supersedes EO 2020-43) This matches the duration of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order by extending it through May 28.  The restrictions that are already in place regarding public access to restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, casinos and other places of public accommodation.

EO 2020-81 (supersedes EO 2020-44) Extends until May 25 the suspension of all state and local seasonal load restrictions, as well as other restrictions on the timing and loading of deliveries, for deliveries that meet immediate needs for medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, as well as other critical supplies, equipment, and personnel.

EO 2020-80 (supersedes EO 2020-45) Continues to permit until June 8 the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, Unemployment Insurance Agency, and other administrative hearings to be held by video conference or phone in place of in-person hearings or meetings. The order also temporarily allows e-signatures in place of written signatures on related documents.

EO 2020-78 – Temporarily extends the expiration of valid driver licenses, state identification cards and commercial vehicle registrations that would otherwise expire during the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration; it does not apply to motorists with suspended or revoked driver licenses. The order also suspends penalties for driving with a recently expired but otherwise valid registration.

EO 2020-75 – (supersedes EO 2020-48) – extends until June 30, the ability of local boards, commissions, committees, subcommittees, authorities, councils and nonprofit boards to use telephone- or video-conferencing methods to continue meeting and conducting business while ensuring the public has access to join the meetings. Public bodies are required to provide detailed procedures by which the public may participate in the meeting remotely, such as telephone number or website address, to provide procedures by which persons with disabilities may participate.

Option for County Road Agencies: Link to Facebook Live board meeting information.

New Federal Employer Paid Leave Requirements. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.

Click here to read more.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act poster

Click here to view all COVID-19 related Executive Orders.

COVID-19 related health information resources

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus webpage
Get the latest news and updates on developments in the state, find resources and fact sheets for residents and communities, as well as tips for employers and businesses.

  • COVID-19 hotline, available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 888.535.6136.

U.S. Department of Labor

Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

Center for Disease Control  & Prevention (CDC) webpage
Find information for polling placesemergency medical services workers and law enforcement here.

World Health Organization (WHO) webpage

Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Information on activities underway to address COVID-19, including federal and state resources to help communities and healthcare facilities respond to this issue.