The Starke County Highway Department still has plenty of money to keep up with planned road maintenance this year. Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners last night that includes nearly 30 miles of paving this summer and crack sealing an additional 10 miles roads. Some chip sealing work will also be done.
Ritzler says the county has nearly reached peak efficiency when it comes to producing asphalt. They’ve slashed the cost of production by 50 percent over the past two years through a combination of training, experience and lower oil prices. However, the price of oil puts a limit on how many miles of roads can be paved. Additional savings have been realized through competitive bidding, reducing dust control costs and doing as much work as possible in-house.
Ritzler says the county can still maintain the current condition of its roads but will not be able to make significant improvements without more money. He adds state and federal road funding is becoming harder to get and told the commissioners the state may eventually require counties to adopt wheel taxes or charge heavy hauling fees in order to qualify for road funds. Ritzler stresses he is not a fan of such user fees and is not advocating their establishment.