Winter has finally arrived, and it is keeping the Starke County Highway Department extremely busy. Crews have been spreading salt and plowing roads for the past week. In spite of the uptick in activity, highway superintendent Rik Ritzler says the county’s snow removal costs remain significantly lower than last year’s at the same time. He told the commissioners yesterday the department is still working on its first load of salt and has only used 200 tons. By this time last year, Ritzler says they had already used more than 1,000 tons of salt.
Ritzler says crews got quite a bit of spring preparatory work done in last month as well. They hauled in all of the gravel necessary for spring road improvements, and it is ready to go. Also, Ritzler told the commissioners the decrease in oil prices and the county’s ability to make its own asphalt may allow the county to further increase asphalt paving miles. The late onset of winter also allowed LaPorte Construction to get an early start on the new bridge on County Road 50 East just south of 500 South over the Smith Ditch. It’s halfway finished. Work will resume when weather allows.