Accidents, mechanical issues hinder plow trucks in Bloomfield Township during storm

Multiple car accidents on Bloomfield Township roads during Friday's snowstorm hindered plow trucks from reaching areas in need of service.

Drivers were stuck for about two hours on Telegraph Road as crashes –and then trucks– clogged up the area.

"Our truck was literally stuck in that traffic jam," said Craig Bryson, the senior communications director of the Road Commission for Oakland County. "Our truck could not get through to address the road."

Police pushed drivers out as the wet snow piled up. Unplowed roads in freezing temperatures caused a snow pack that was impossible to remove. In some areas in Bloomfield Township, the snow remains five days later.

"We got a lot of calls. We got a lot of frustration from residents," said Dani Walsh, the Bloomfield Township supervisor. "There was like a quadrant where something was a miss."

The township plows only at subdivisions – one of the few in Michigan to do so. The Oakland County road commission handles all other roads.

"We offer our help. We can't kind of go in and force ourselves in because it's their operations, and we don't want to create that kind of battle," said Noah Mehalski, the director of public works at Bloomfield Township.

Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Township on Friday, January 12, 2024.

On Friday, Bloomfield Township crews were out around the clock, assisting in emergency situations. But Oakland plow trucks could not get to the roads.

"Unfortunately, what we found, we did the research, was there is a higher concentration of mechanical problems in the area serving Bloomfield Township and the surrounding areas," Bryson said. "For whatever reason those trucks broke down more frequently."

In addition to the broken trucks, 40 trucks have been on back-order for two years now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, "more than 50% of our drivers have less than 3.2 years of experience, which is the least experience collectively we've had as far back as we can tell," Bryson said.


When Metro Detroit's bitter cold stretch will end

It's been a bitterly cold stretch for Southeast Michigan. Here is when the cold stretch of weather will end:

Moving forward, a fix is in the works, according to city officials.

"We're going to do more training, we're going to look at how our mechanics are assigned, we're going to look at the types of mechanical issues we had, and we're also going to hope we get those new trucks in sometime soon," Bryson added.