Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler presented a proposed road conversion policy to the county commissioners last week.
Ritzler explained that while there is a process of road assessment for paved roads, there isn’t a policy where gravel roads are concerned. The state doesn’t require it.
The highway department is now looking to develop a decision tool to identify roadways that would best suit a road conversion, according to Ritzler. When a request is made to convert a gravel road to pavement, several criteria will be met to determine if the request is feasible or not.
Ritzler said a request form will be offered to a resident similar to what was initiated in Boone County.
“One person on that road would be responsible for organizing everyone on that road and organizing the application,” said Ritzler.
The deadline for that application would be June 1 for consideration in the next year’s paving schedule.
Several points will be considered in the application.
“The cost of the conversion of the paved road would be one of the factors, traffic volume, how long the road is, connectivity – does it connect to anything important? It is a bus route? Is it connecting a business or connecting two main roads? Another point is public support. Does everyone on the road want that done? Some people who live on gravel roads don’t want their roads paved. Right-of-way is another one. Many of our gravel roads are smaller that what we would want a paved road to be. We have to make sure we have enough right-of-way to do that. If we don’t, those property owners may have to donate a foot or two in order for us to widen that.”
The last consideration would be the roadway’s proximity to state roads.
Ritzler asked the commissioners to review the policy and provide feedback during the next meeting. He said the highway department may upgrade three roads a year, depending on funding.