Houghton County Road Commission
The HCRC actively operates 11 motor graders at a current cost of approximately $550,000.00 each.

County Road Commissions were organized by Act 283 by the Michigan Legislature in 1909 to achieve two primary goals: To provide uniformity in road construction and maintenance across the state; and to provide cost efficient and high-quality road services for local roads.

There are 78 county road commissions in Michigan. County road commissions are not part of general county government, except Wayne, Macomb, Jackson, Ingham and Calhoun counties, which have a public works department instead of a road commission. They are legally separate entities, receiving nearly all of their operating funds directly from the state.

Every county road commission has a three-member or five-member board that is either appointed by the county board of commissioners or elected by the voters. The Houghton County Road Commissioners serve staggered six-year terms so that every two years, one commissioner’s term expires.

The county board of commissioners decides how the road commission board members are chosen, depending on what method is deemed to be in the best interest of the county.

Road commissions hold regular board meetings at least once a month. The public is invited and encouraged to attend these meetings. In addition, public hearings are scheduled to communicate with county residents on a variety of road and safety issues.

County road commissions have a variety of responsibilities including, but not always limited to, maintaining almost 90,000 miles of roads and 5,700 bridges, 365 days a year. Some of the many county road commission duties include the following:

  • Ensuring steady and safe traffic patterns

  • Gravel road upkeep

  • Road and bridge construction, repair and maintenance

  • Snow removal, salting and sanding

  • Surface treatments and chip/crack sealing

  • Street painting and marking

  • Maintaining road signage

  • Controlling roadside vegetation, mowing and brush cutting

  • Roadside ditch and drain preservation

State Law - Public Act 51 - specifically states that cities, villages, county road commissions and the Michigan Department of Transportation have jurisdiction over roads. That means those government agencies are responsible for building and maintaining the roads within their jurisdictions. They also carry the legal liability for those roads. Road commissions also work hard to maintain roads within their jurisdiction- and although drivers don’t always know who is responsible for the roads they drive on, they can be assured that county road commissions are taking the best care of the roads.

Townships do not have jurisdiction over roads and do not receive any funding directly from the state. Instead, county road commissions maintain roads in townships with road commission funds. This ensures that all roads are maintained efficiently and without financial burden to the township and ensures uniform service throughout the county. Some road improvements in township - bridge replacement, road widening, etc. - are federally funded. Townships often help provide a matching of funds for local road projects.

County road commissions regularly meet with the townships in their counties to help determine maintenance and construction priorities. Construction and maintenance projects are planned and coordinated with active input from township officials and residents.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) contracts with approximately 63 county road commissions across the state. Although county road commissions do the work, they operate under the specifications of MDOT.

Michigan has the fourth-largest system of local roads in the US and is one of the approximately twenty states that must manage several freeze-thaw cycles per year and months of snow and ice.

For more details about Michigan’s county road commissions, see www.micountyroads.org.