By Megan Kelley
After missing several days of school in the past two weeks, Lake Orion Community Schools closed again on Wednesday and Thursday due to unsafe road conditions.
On Thursday, the school district cited “untreated” back roads as the main reason behind school closures, according to a post on the district’s website, www.lakeorionschools.org.
“Safety is our top priority and we cannot safely travel our buses with students down those roads while they are still untreated by the county road commission,” the LOCS post stated. “We are doing everything in our power to have school open, but often it is beyond our control.”
“We’ve been working around the clock trying to keep them clear,” said Craig Bryson, Public Information Officer for the Road Commission for Oakland County. “This has obviously been a really tough situation weather-wise for the roads the last couple of days. We’ve had these massive temperature fluctuations. I think it’s going to be up to 50 (degrees) today and it was obviously below freezing this morning, and yesterday we had the freezing rain. This is one of the most difficult things to deal with is this freezing and icing thing when the temperatures are fluctuating like this.”
Bryson explained that Oakland County has 760 miles of gravel roads that have been being maintained around the clock by the road commission.
“We certainly have not been ignoring the back roads. We’ve had all of our graders out for the last couple of days trying to get the ice off. We’ve been sanding where we can,” Bryson said. “We have 19 road graders and in order for that to be effective, the grader has to make at least two passes…and a grader travels 10 miles per hour (15 mph tops) so it’s a very slow process and we’re doing everything we can.”
It’s important to note that as the weather and temperature continue to change, the road conditions are also changing by the hour.
“This is the third week in a row where we’ve been out nearly continuously at an around-the-clock basis,” he said. “It’s been a rough three weeks here.”
The Road Commission for Oakland County will continue to work on maintaining these back roads, but it is unclear when they will be deemed suitable for buses.
That will depend on mother nature’s cooperation.