MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – On Monday, January 10, high winds and lake effect snow caused white out conditions resulting in the closure of M-28 between Marquette and Munising. We spoke with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) about how those decisions are made.
“Every year we get a few of these situations where we have an isolated severe weather condition that’s in a particular area on a particular road. It requires us to close it because it’s deemed impassable,” said Dan Weingarten with MDOT.
Weingarten said the decision make process is collaborative.
“They are made jointly by Michigan State Police and MDOT or our representatives. In counties where county road commissions plowing and maintaining the roads under contract, the county road comission representatives would act jointly on behalf of MDOT to make that kind of a closure decision,” added Weingarten.
One factor is the decision making process is whether conditions causing the closure are also happening on the alternate route or detour drivers are directed to.
“Michigan State Police working in conjunction with local law enforcement and maintenance organization would try to make sure everyone was clear from the route. They will typically close it at one end and patrol down to make sure that it’s clear,” Weingarten adds that motorists should never drive around a road closure barrier. “If you enter a closed section of roadway, you’re really inhibiting the ability of crews to clear the roads and you could pose a real danger to plow operators or tow truck drivers or first respondersk, and to yourself if you venture into one of these areas.”
Weingarten said the best defense is to prepare before you leave home. Check the MiDrive map for incidents, look at traffic cameras, and see where snow plows are. You can also get updates on Twitter or sign up for email alerts on MDOT’s Website.
If you do get caught in bad road conditions, Weingarten said it’s not enough to pull over, look for a driveway or somewhere further off the road to wait things out. “Try to get off of the main roadway and get out of potential peril because of traffic that can’t see you or the possibility of being struck by a snowplow or something like that.”
You can prepare yourself and your vehicle with this guide for Winter driving from Michigan State Police.