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      Road commissions plan for winter

      Half of the money for 2014 has already been spent, because of the lingering winter weather from this past spring.

      Northern Michigan Road Commissions are already thinking about the upcoming winter.

      Much of the area saw a record amount of snow last winter. In Grand Traverse County, plow trucks dumped two to three times the normal amount of sand on the roads, but not as much salt due to extremely cold temperatures. That's a good thing for road commissions, because sand is much cheaper to buy than salt.

      At the moment, the road commission has about 30 percent of the sand they willl need for a normal year on hand at their Traverse City storage facility.

      According to Road Commission Manager Jim Cook, they have $3 million to handle winter road maitenance for 2014. Half of that has already been spent, because of the lingering winter weather this past spring.

      "Our hope is that we get a late start, which would save some money from last winter," Cook said. "We'd rather take that $3 million and fix roads, but this is what we deal with in Northern Michigan."

      Another shipment of sand is expected in the next couple of weeks. It was bought under last year's contract.

      A new contract for salt will be negotiated this fall. Cook says there is rumor that a price jump in salt could be in the forecast.