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Road crews in Ottawa County work tirelessly as snow doesn't let up

"It's really an all-hands-on-deck situation when you have a big storm like this," said Holland's City Manager, Keith Van Beek.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — The lakeshore has been hit especially hard by the recent winter weather. Snow has continued to fall consistently, having crews and agencies from all over the county working tirelessly to keep conditions safe.

"It's really an all-hands-on-deck situation when you have a big storm like this," said Holland's City Manager, Keith Van Beek. 

And a big storm it continued to be, especially for road crews.

"It's hard to get into all the streets right now because it keeps snowing," said Ryan Kemppainen, Operations Superintendent for the Ottawa County Road Commission. "We're trying to keep the the main roads clear and safe for everyone to traverse on."

The Ottawa County Road Commission has crews working into the night and early into the morning to clear and maintain their more than 1,707 miles of roads and 136 bridge structures. They also provide winter maintenance for 521 lane miles of state roads under a contractual agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

"The best thing I want to tell people is to be patient with us," said Kemppainen, "because when we keep getting hit with snow like this, it's tough for us to get into the streets."

The same sentiment of patience goes for local crews that are in charge of their own jurisdictions, like the City of Holland. 

"We have the capacity here in the city to be able to get out and clear our streets on a pretty frequent basis," said Van Beek. "And over the last couple of days we have 22 crew members that could be out at any given time."

Van Beek said that 12 of those people are out in larger plow trucks for the city's widest roads. Five crew members are out with sidewalk plows to assist residents, and another five are in traditional trucks to take care of parking lots. 

And luckily for the City of Holland, their famous snowmelt system covers nearly 700,000 square feet in and around the downtown area. 

"The snowmelt, in its own way, really relieves a lot of extra work that we'd otherwise be out there doing," said Van Beek. 

But for all people working in storms like these, both leaders said their crews take their job seriously and care about the work they're doing. 

"These are the types of storms that they like to be out in," said Kemppainen, "and this is why we're here. This is the job that we do in the winter."

"It can certainly be challenging and it provides difficulties for some people, but we just hunker down, do the work that's presented to us, and make the best of it," said Van Beek. "So just remember to go slow, stay safe, and be considerate."

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