Inform, Entertain, Inspire
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

County seeks help in maintaining roads over next decade

A Milestone Contractors worker stops traffic Monday on southbound Ash Road in St. Joseph County, near its bridge over the Indiana Toll Road in Granger, as a crew removes the road surface in preparation for a new layer.
Jeff Parrott/WVPE
A Milestone Contractors worker stops traffic Monday on southbound Ash Road in St. Joseph County, near its bridge over the Indiana Toll Road in Granger, as a crew removes the road surface in preparation for a new layer.

The St. Joe County Highway Department is seeking some outside help in its increasingly difficult mission to keep roads in the best shape possible.

At their meeting Tuesday, county commissioners will consider the highway department’s request to hire Indianapolis-based Kimley-Horn Associates. The firm first would perform a windshield assessment of the roads, using the PASER method that rates a road’s condition from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

County Engineer Sky Medors says the highway department historically has done this work in-house but it hasn’t yet replaced its highway engineer after he left last year. Kimley-Horn would use the road scores to do a second job for the county: coming up with a 10-year pavement management plan.

Medors says the roads are in relatively good shape after the county received $14 million for extra road work from the American Rescue Plan. But funding has now reverted to pre-COVID levels.

The county has about 1,200 miles of roads but typically can only afford to repave 12 to 15 miles a year. The state sends counties road maintenance money that comes partly from the gas tax, but gas tax revenues are declining as electric vehicle use grows.

Medors expects debate over a new road funding formula to take center stage in next year’s Indiana General Assembly.

"I can tell you the elected officials, and I mean all of them, know that this is an issue and all of them have been very supportive of trying to do things to get our roads in better condition," Medors said.

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).