Starke County Highway Department workers add rip rap to bridges.
Starke County’s annual bridge maintenance program is almost complete. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says the county is awaiting the final inspection on each of the 58 bridges. Crews cleaned the deck and drains on each bridge, sealed all of the concrete decks, made minor repairs and added rip rap to about half of the structures to help prevent erosion. Once the inspections are complete a full report will be posted on the county’s website.
Starke County Highway Department crews are busy this week re-stoning gravel roads.
The Starke County Highway Department is on pace to meet and possibly exceed its road improvement goals for the year. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says they paved 10 miles of roadway in August at a cost of slightly more than $21,000 per mile. He says they may add to that total by the end of September. Continue reading
Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler is shopping for less expensive road salt to use this winter. He told the county commissioners he’s already got one contract in place through the state bid process but is attempting to negotiate better prices with other suppliers who lost out on the state bid. Continue reading
The Starke County Commissioners have asked the county attorney to look into work restrictions for county employees who have been cleared to return to work by their physicians but are still under restrictions. Interim EMS Director Keith Emigh asked about the county’s policy during the most recent regular commissioners meeting and was told employees cannot return to work unless they can perform all of their required job duties. The commissioners last week asked county attorney Marty Lucas to further research the issue and placed the matter on the agenda for their meeting this morning. Continue reading
A new pile and pier were added to the bridge on County Road 700 East over the Yellow River to replace the ones damaged last spring.
A Starke County road that has been closed since April is once again open to traffic. The county’s bridge inspector signed off on the emergency repair on 700 East over the Yellow River. A log floating down the river struck the bridge supports, rendering the structure unstable and forcing the emergency closure. A field inspection performed Sunday recommended additional monitoring of the timber piles, as they are starting to deteriorate, but found the bridge is able to handle traffic again.
Interim Starke County EMS Director Keith Emigh will continue to drive a county-issued four-wheel-drive until a recently retired patrol car is road ready. The vehicle Emigh is currently using to travel between the EMS bases in North Judson, Knox and Grovertown will be transferred to plan commission director Terry Stephenson. Continue reading
Starke County Highway Department employees paved the new bridge earlier this week.
Repairs to the bridge over the Yellow River on Starke County Road 700 East are finished, but it’s not open to traffic yet. County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler tells WKVI News the bridge needs to be inspected first. Continue reading
Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler
The Starke County Highway Department recently finished chip sealing 47 miles of roadway, which ties 2013 as the most miles of roads done in the last 15 years. They did set a record by completing the work in nine days, compared to 16 last year. They credit good weather and minimal equipment delays with getting the work done quickly and say they have also developed a good system which allows them to be more efficient. Continue reading
Portions of Toto Road east of Knox will be closed today for chip sealing. The Starke County Highway Department will be working between 700 and 1200 East. They started chip sealing roads in Oregon Township earlier this week. So far they’ve finished 3.8 miles of roads in Koontz Lake, and 2.4 more on 700 North, 800 North and 850 North. They’ve also done quite a few sections of road in Washington Township.
Starke County Highway Department employees recently made asphalt and patch material for seasonal road repairs.
Starke County Highway Department crews are ready to begin chip sealing roads. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners they will start in the Koontz Lake. He says they’ve made more than 6,000 tons of asphalt and more than 445 tons of patching material. Continue reading
Bids to replace two bridges in Starke County are officially under advisement after they came in considerably higher than expected. LaPorte-based JCI Bridge Group and LaPorte Construction Company both bid on the replacement of bridges on 900 south just west of 100 West over Bogus Run and on 800 East over Eagle Creek, just north of 50 South. The base bids for the 800 East bridge were $323,121 from JCI and $307,099.42 from LaPorte Construction. JCI bid $318,110.76 for the bridge replacement on 900 South, and LaPorte Construction bid $308,018.84 for the work.
Starke County Highway Department crews are cleaning up damage from San Pierre to Koontz Lake and south to Bass Lake after strong storms tore through the area late last night and early this morning. Numerous trees are down, and electrical lines are tangled in them.
A Starke County road is closed due to flooding. A berm on 1100 East between 750 and 850 South gave way, and water broke through. A crew from the county highway department is out there now working to reopen the road but aren’t sure how long it will take to repair.
Starke County Highway Department employees plan to mow county rights-of-way for the first time tomorrow, weather permitting. This will be the first of at least six planned mo
wing cycles this summer. Crews will mow five feet off the edge of the pavement at each road and 20 feet back at intersections in order to clear the necessary sight distance for drivers. The Starke and Marshall County Highway Departments are also coordinating their paving schedules in order to share resources. Starke County will make Marshall County’s pug asphalt, and Marshall will loan Starke County their distributor trucks and two-lane chipper box. The pug will be made in late May for paving in July.
Motorists traveling between Knox and Winamac on U.S. 35 can avoid taking the long way around during the next few weeks of road work. INDOT has closed the highway from 850 S. to the Starke/Pulaski County line in order to replace a culvert. The state’s marked detour sends drivers west on 10, south on 39 and back east on 14 because INDOT can only use roads maintained by the state to divert traffic. Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says drivers heading south on 35 can turn left on 800 S., right on 600 East and right on 900 S. to get past the construction and back to U.S. 35. Northbound motorists can follow that route in reverse. Ritzler says those roads are paved and are more suited to heavy traffic. He says several drivers have used 850 S. and 400 E. to get around the construction. Those roads are gravel and are becoming rutted. The project should wrap up by the end of the month, weather permitting.
A bridge has been closed by the Starke County Highway Department.
Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told WKVI that the bridge on 700 East just north of State Road 8 will be closed for at least a week.
Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler
The Starke County Highway Department this week cleared another hurdle as they seek to establish a new position in the county to hire a construction inspection supervisor. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler had previously approached the commissioners seeking their approval to create the position and his request was approved unanimously.
Monday night, the council reviewed the amendment to the salary ordinance regarding the new position and approved a motion to amend the ordinance to allow for the hire of the inspection supervisor. Ritzler said this will allow the county to forgo hiring inspectors for projects, saving money in the long run.
The supervisor would have to be INDOT certified, but Ritzler said there are already a number of residents within the county who would qualify for the position. He said he estimates the savings would be around $140,000 over two years, and the supervisor could train other highway department employees as well.
On top of that, Ritzler said there is a possibility that INDOT may reimburse some of the expense in hiring a supervisor.
The Starke County Highway Department has been focusing a large part of its efforts this week on patching and other road repairs, with two patch boxes out working on the North Judson, English Lake, Knox and Hamlet areas. According to the highway department’s Facebook page, many areas throughout the county are in need of patching work and the department is progressively making its way to all of them.
Anyone with pothole concerns is encouraged to call the highway department at 574-772-3011.
Signs like this one were posted throughout Starke County.
Travelers in Starke County may have noticed a few new signs posted on county roads advertising the “frost law” now in effect throughout the county. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the frost law ordinance prevents big trucks from being on the roads and potentially causing more damage before the county has a chance to repair them.
The Starke County Highway Department continues to stay busy with plowing efforts, as Superintendent Rik Ritzler yesterday morning told the commissioners that his department spent most of the month of February plowing, with 17 days of the month spent clearing roads. He said five of the days were spent hauling material, with the other days used for general maintenance.
Over the past two months, Ritzler said, the county has plowed nearly 100,000 miles, building a total cost of $561,000. Fortunately, he said they did spend less in February – but that may just have been because the month was shorter, Ritzler explained. Continue reading