The Starke County Commissioners will meet tonight where a public hearing is set for the UTV Ordinance. The county’s ordinance authorizes and regulates the use of Recreational Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs or side-by-sides) and Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) on certain county roads. A copy of the ordinance is available in the Starke County Auditor’s office in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 on 53 E. Mound Street in Knox.
The Starke County Council members will consider several fund requests this evening.
They will have a presentation of a refund from NIPSCO and consider transfer requests from the auditor’s office and the clerk’s office. Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler will present transfer and additional appropriation requests and the sheriff’s budget will be discussed along with Sheriff Bill Dulin’s requests for fund transfers. The council members will also consider the 2018 salary ordinance and receive information from Starke County Economic Development Foundation Director Charlie Weaver. Continue reading →
Starke County Highway Department crews are continuing efforts to make county roadways safer for drivers.
Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the installation of reflective post enhancers is ongoing.
“We’ve put the reflectors on the stop signs and they’ve worked very well,” said Ritzler. “We’re doing that throughout the county and we’re about a fifth of the way done. There is still a lot to go with that.” Continue reading →
The Starke County Highway Department is continuing an effort to conduct traffic studies in order to collect data for a proposed U.S. 30 freeway that will travel through northern Starke County.
A coalition is putting together suggestions to present to INDOT that would include benefits to Starke County in a U.S. 30 freeway proposal between Valparaiso and Fort Wayne. In that stretch, the only way to get across U.S. 30 would be with an overpass, and the only way to get on will be at an interchange. Continue reading →
The Starke County Commissioners have chosen a contractor to replace two of the county’s bridges, but not before some concerns were raised about the county’s responsible bidding ordinance. LaPorte Construction was selected Monday to replace a bridge on County Road 25 North over Eagle Creek for just over $325,000. The company will also replace the bridge on 800 South over Bogus Run for just under $297,000.
The Starke County Highway Department is installing a safety precaution at some of the more dangerous intersections in the county.
Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler informed the county commissioners Monday night that reflective strips are being added to the poles that hold traffic signs. Stop signs have the added traffic control device to increase visibility and safety.
“You don’t really notice them that much during the day, but at night they really make a difference,” said Ritzler. “Material-wise it’s $25 an intersection. If we prevent one accident a year, it pays for all of the intersections to be done with these strips. An average accident costs $30,000 to $40,000. Over the next couple of years, we’ll do all of the intersections. We’re doing all of the main roads now and the intersections we know are dangerous.” Continue reading →
Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas opened bids for two bridge projects during the commissioners meeting on Monday night.
Northern Indiana Construction Company, Inc. submitted the lowest bids for Bridge No. 36 on County Road 25 N. over Eagle Creek and Bridge No. 58 on County Road 800 S. over Bogus Run. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler asked the commissioners to conditionally approve the bids as they will need to satisfy the ordinance checklist before they are formally awarded. If the lowest bidder does not conform to the ordinance requirements, then the next lowest bid will go through the same process.
Funding for three Starke County projects were approved by INDOT as part of the Community Crossings grant.
Starke County was awarded just under $571,000 which will be a reimbursement in state matching funds for work done on Bridge No. 50 on County Road 1150 E. over the Osborn Ditch about three miles south of State Road 10, and Bridge No. 47 on County Road 625 S. over Osborn Ditch, just over a half mile west of County Road 875 E.
Some railroad signs and pavement markings will be updated soon in Starke County.
Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the commissioners this week that INDOT recently conducted a railroad crossing audit for the county. Crews found 23 crossings that needed improvement with updated pavement markings or signs.
Ritzler said he is working on funding to update these crossings.
Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler submitted projects to the commissioners for the county’s request for the state’s Community Crossings grant program.
The county is eligible for a 75/25 split for grant funding. Ritzler submitted five projects totaling just under $1.4 million. At a meeting hosted by INDOT addressing Community Crossing grant funds earlier this year, officials suggested that government entities include project plans in the $1.3 to $1.4 million range in order to capture that full $1 million.
Mowing season is under way for the Starke County Highway Department. Superintendent Rik Ritzler says a mower has been out since April 27, and the other four tractor mowers will being cutting tight-of-ways on Monday. Last year county highway crews mowed more than 8,000 lane miles of county roadways. This year Ritzler says they plan to complete at least five complete circuits of the county, for a total of 7,500 miles. Continue reading →
Travelers on county roads 600 East and 200 East, both south of State Road 8 in Starke County, will have to find an alternate route of travel if they need to drive over the railroad crossings. According to highway superintendent Rik Ritzler, both of these crossings will be closed for the duration of this week and are expected to open before Monday, but there are no official detours in place.
The Starke County Highway Department has been staying busy, as the department recently finished their third cycle of mowing and are well into the fourth, according to Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler. Ritzler told the commissioners that they’ve also finished their chip seal operations, which ended on July 25, thanks in a large part to one highway department employee who stepped up to the plate in a big way, helping to chip seal 30 miles in less than two weeks.
The chip seal work in Starke County has been completed but many rural residents are wondering why their freshly treated roads are rough and rocky. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told WKVI that the chip seal process takes around a week before the loose stone sets, and until then, the rocks on the road are loose and can cause damage to vehicles traveling at high speeds.
The Starke County commissioners this week received an update on two construction projects that will soon begin in the county to replace two bridges, one near Koontz Lake and the other on U.S. 35. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the commissioners that a pre-construction meeting was held on Tuesday to discuss the schedule for Bridge 43 near Koontz Lake, but because they are currently waiting on an environmental permit to clear, the schedule is not yet concrete.
Once the permit has cleared, Ritzler explained, the schedule can be set and construction can begin within two or three weeks after obtaining the permit.
The Starke County Council has taken a first step toward approving the purchase of three new Freightliner trucks for the highway department. Superintendent Rik Ritzler says that eight of the trucks in the county’s fleet are more than 15 years old, and many have more than 300,000 miles. He says they are becoming more costly to maintain than to replace. Even though the initial replacement cost is $439,672 for three new vehicles, Ritzler says they would last the county several years. Money for the purchase is in the county highway fund; however, the state requires the appropriation be advertised before it can be spent. Council members approved the advertisement and expect to give final approval to the purchase when they meet in June. Ritzler also told the council he plans to implement a fleet management plan and replace a vehicle each year after this.
The Starke County Commissioners at their meeting Monday morning heard an update from Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler, who said the County Road 300 East project is getting closer to its deadline to be completed. Ritzler told the commissioners that 20 of the 25 parcels involved in the project have been completed and submitted to INDOT, but the deadline is quickly approaching.