Starke County Highway Department Prepares for Bridge Replacement

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler
Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler

The cost of plowing snow during the worst winter in nearly 40 years forced the Starke County Highway Department to dramatically scale back its road maintenance budget. However, Superintendent Rik Ritzler says they’re still moving forward with scheduled bridge replacements.

“The bridge replacement plan was not affected by winter operations,” Ritzler told the commissioners during their most recent meeting. “We have enough money in the CEDIT account both presently and budgeted if that’s not touched. If that’s touched, it will be jeopardized.”

Design work is under way on the four bridges on this year’s replacement schedule, and they should be completed and built this year. Ritzler is hopeful they will be finished ahead of schedule and will be under budget. Bridges scheduled for replacement this year are on 800 East over Eagle Creek, just north of 50 S; CR 50 East over Smith Ditch, just south of State Road 10; CR 450 South over Smith Ditch, just west of Range Road; and CR 900 South over Bogus Run, just west of 100 South.

The county has a five-year replacement plan for structurally deficient bridges.

“We have 22 bridges planned. We only have 16 that are deficient right now, but there are a couple others we may have to replace. Some of the box culverts are doing OK, some of them are not. There’s some problems with a few of them we may have to end up replacing some of the ones we put in in 2005. Two of them specifically. They’re rate as fives now, which is almost deficient but not quite. They probably will be next year, so we’ll have to do something with them then. That’s not because of the box culverts. It’s because of where they were put in and a couple of things like that. Sometimes they’re out of our control,” Ritzler said.