Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What roads are maintained by the RCKC?
A. The RCKC maintains roads outside the jurisdiction of cities, villages and the Michigan Department of Transporation. (See maps: Countywide Act 51 Certification Maps)
Q. How do I know the condition of roads under the jurisdiction of RCKC?
A. WIth the use of Asset Management, a systematic approach is used in selecting the best investment at the right time to maximize the life of the asset being measured, in this case, road surface conditions. The PASER rating data is incorporated into a road management program with GIS mapping technology called Roadsoft. The Roadsoft program is used to compile, store, and report on the road condition assessments. RoadSoft was developed by Michigan Technological University for all road agencies in Michigan. The PASER rating scale ranges from 1, failed condition, to 10, brand new pavement. (See Road Data - Asset Management: Current Ratings by Township)
Q. Why isn't my road plowed right away when it snows?
A. Our first responsibility is to clear the snow route roads, a special network of main roads that includes more than 260 miles in the over 1,265 mile system under RCKC jurisdiction. Typically, local roads and streets are among the last to be cleared because they aren't as heavily traveled. (See Snow Removal)
Q. What is the RCKC’s policy for mailbox damage?
A. More often than not, damage to mailboxes is caused by snow pushing against weakened posts or hardware. Proper maintenance may help to prevent damage during winter maintenance operations. RCKC policy notes that an owner must clearly demonstrate the damage to a mailbox was caused by direct contact by road commission equipment. The Board will not assume responsibility for mailbox damage that may be caused by snow/ice that is being plowed from the roadway. (See Mailboxes and Mailbox Supports)
Q. What are weight restrictions?
A. 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.
Q. What are all-season roads?
A. All-season roads are roadways that are not subject to weight restrictions, which means that heavy-load trucks can drive on them all year. Non-all-season roads are subject to weight restrictions during thaw periods to prevent costly damage to these roads.
Q. Why are there rules about the types of mailboxes and posts people can have?
A. Regulations about mailbox and mailbox support types and locations were instituted because massively designed structures and incorrectly placed boxes and supports contributed to a large number of injuries and deaths in Michigan. (See Mailboxes and Mailbox Supports )
Q. What is the RCKC Brush Spray program and do I have to have the brush sprayed along my property?
A. The RCKC annual summer spot spraying of roadside brush is typically conducted in July and August. The program is designed to contain roadside brush and overhanging tree branches that could obstruct motorists' vision, create drainage obstacles or cause snow and icing problems if left unchecked. The operation is not a continuous broadcast, only those roadside areas where existing brush and limbs are creating safety hazards are sprayed with herbicide. If you live in a platted area, your property wil not be involved. Annually, specific townships are selected on a rotating system for brush spray.
If you would rather not have the brush sprayed along your roadside, owners will have to clear the brush and limbs before the spraying program begins annually. Property owners may remove brush and low hanging limbs at minimum fourteen (14) feet up and fourteen (14) feet away from the traveled portion of the right-of-way with RCKC permission prior to the time frame specified by RCKC. If the roadside vegetation control efforts have not been accomplished within the permitted time frame annually, an application of a herbicide may occur. (For more information, See Operation Brush Control Brochure)
Q. People are speeding on our road. How do I get the speed limit lowered?
A. Changing a speed limit is not a whimsical process. Any decision regarding speed limits must be based on facts and an objective analysis of the characteristics of the roadway. When a request is received to lower the speed limit on a county road, the township, the Road Commission and the Michigan State Police (Establishing Speed Limits) work together to conduct studies such as speed studies, accident analyses, and driving environment surveys. Recommendation is made based on an objective analysis of all the data collected. If a change in speed limit is in order, a Traffic Control Order is submitted to the Director of the Michigan State Police for approval. (See Speed Limits Brochure.)
Q Why do you seal coat (chip seal) roads?
A. Just as your home needs ongoing maintenance to keep it in tiptop shape, so do roads. Several kinds of seal are used, depending on the road type and condition and traffic volume. Seal coating is a way to improve the road's surface and, at the same time, protect your investment, as a taxpayer, in roads.(See Chip Seal Brochure)
Q. Who is responsible for the removal of dead/dying trees in the right-of-way?
A. Dead/dying trees located in the right-of-way are the responsibility of the property owner for removal. The RCKC may remove trees from the public right-of-way that is not designed for vehicular travel, but has the discretion not to do so. If a property owner wishes to remove, trim or prune a tree that is located in the right-of-way they must complete a permit application to work within the public right-of-way with the RCKC. A right-of-way application is available on our Permit page of this website. (see Permit tab) The permit fee may be waived. For. (See Roadside Vegetation Management Policy)
Q. What right does RCKC have for trees in the road right-of-way?
A. The RCKC has exclusive right to remove any obstruction within the highway right-of-way. In addition, to expressly granting authority to the RCKC to maintain trees within the right-of-way, the legislature has also expressly prohibited anyone else from “cutting, destroying or otherwise injuring any shade or ornamental tree or shrub growing within the limits of any public highway within the state of Michigan without consent of the authorities having jurisdiction over such road.” If a property owner seeks to have a tree that is located in the public right-of-way, removed, trimmed or pruned, RCKC permission must be sought and granted through a permit application (see Permit tab) process before the owner engages in any such removal. The permit application fee may be waived at RCKC’s discretion. (See Roadside Vegetation Management Policy)
Q. If a tree falls in the traveled portion of the roadway designed for public travel; what do I do?
A. Please call the RCKC office immediately and/or 911 after normal business hours. The RCKC as first responders will respond accordingly. The relocated fallen trees as part of emergency response will be moved outside of the road right-of-way when possible. The relocated fallen tree will be left for the property owner’s use and/or disposal unless they contact the RCKC within 15 days of the fallen tree being relocated that they request it be cut and/or removed. For those property owners that do contact RCKC accordingly, the RCKC will return as determined within other RCKC activities and priorities. (See Roadside Vegetation Management Policy)
Q. What about trees that may impact a project improvement?
A. The RCKC will continue to take a proactive approach to remove trees that may impact a road improvement project. In situations arising from a road improvement project, the property owner may complete a tree removal notification form that will be provided by RCKC to request that any trees to be removed be cut or request it be removed. Please see listing of projects on our Project page. Informational meetings may be held accordingly for each project. (See Roadside Vegetation Management Policy)
Q. My neighbors and I think we should have a traffic light at our corner. There have been a lot of accidents here. If I get enough signatures, can we have one?
A. RCKC follows the state of Michigan process for traffic signals. Michigan has developed a set of 11 guidelines, called warrants, to determine whether a traffic signal is needed. The most closely reviewed warrants include three questions. Is sufficient traffic coming from the side road to require a signal? Is the main road's traffic flow so constant that side-road traffic cannot enter or cross the main road? Have a significant number of right-angle accidents occurred at this intersection? Requests for traffic signals are reviewed, with the decision based on the state guidelines. Petitions are not a basis for the installation of a new traffic signal, however, they are helpful in bringing an intersection to our attention and we reveiw annually. (See Traffic Signs and Signals.)
Q. I'm fixing up my property. I want to plant some trees along the road. Is that OK?
A. Trees do add beauty, color and character to our roadsides, but if they're too close to the road edge, they can be both hazardous and a potential liability for property owners, utilities and the Road Commission. We've prepared a brochure that provides guidelines on the roadside planting of trees and shrubs, explaining what will not only meet requirements but also improve the likelihood of tree survival and reduced maintenance as the tree matures. (See Guidelines for Planting Trees and Shrubs Near Roads Maintained by the Road Commission of Kalamazoo County.)
Q. We all pay property tax. Why isn't that enough to cover fixing our roads?
A. The property tax you pay is used for your local and county governmental units and for schools, not for roads. Over 76% of the RCKC budget is funded by the gas tax and vehicle registration fees. That's why the 1997 state gas tax increase was so urgently needed. The gas tax had not been increased since 1984, and cars had become more fuel-efficient through the years. (See Funding County Roads and Bridges and How Much do I contribute to the Funding of Michigan Roads.)
Q. How do I apply or hear of a job opening at RCKC?
A. At this time, RCKC does not accept applications unless an opening has been identified. Job postings are usually publicized in various publications and posted on the news page of our website if there is an opening.
Q. How does the RCKC decide what projects will be funded?
A. Projects for potential funding are reviewed for areas including pavement conditions, traffic patterns, feedback from both the public and staff and a balance of how much money is available. Projects are evaluated for what type of fix may be appropriate to preserve roads in good condition-"the right fix, at the right time." Federal Aid funding may vary, as not all roads are on the federal aid system, and therefore eligible to receive federal aid funds. RCKC must always balance the amount of money available and what type of fix would be appropriate to preserve our overall road system. RCKC annually reviews the primary road system to update the Primary Road Capital Improvement 5-Year Program. This primary road plan along with our preventative maintenance projects, such as seal coat (chip seal) assists in long term preservation of our infrastructure within budget limitations.
RCKC annually partners with our township governments for local road improvement priorities. The RCKC maintains a local road participation fund program that provides funds for each township that must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis for local road improvement projects. 5-year plans are also developed with each township, considering asset management data.
Q. What aspects of a road does the RCKC have to consider for a project?
A. The RCKC has many features to consider when planning a project. Please see Street Features and Anatomy of a Road to see a snapshot of all the complex planning that is required.
Q. I need to have a street address assigned to my property. Who do I contact and how much does this cost?
A. The RCKC does not assign addressing. Please contact your respective township, village or city for street addresses and fees.
Q. Does RCKC remove dead animals from the road or side of the road?
A. If a dead animal is causing a road hazard, or blocking the traveled portion of the road; RCKC crews will move the dead animal off the road and let nature take its course. Our crews will make an effort, if we find a tag or telephone number, to contact the owner of a domestic dead animal. We will not dispose of any dead animals.