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Porter County Council to consider additional road funding

Reith-Riley website

The Porter County Council may be looking to boost road funding, amid rising costs and deteriorating streets. County Highway Supervisor Jim Polarek told council members last week that current funding levels aren't enough to keep up.

"By keeping the funding source as-is, which is the one-and-a-half million from state highway dollars that we receive and then the one million from the council and commissioners, along with the one million matching, you'll see that the rating of our roads just steadily declines," Polarek said.

He said Porter County can start to turn that trend around by adding $2 million dollars a year. It would take at least $4 million to greatly improve the roads.

Development & Storm Water Director Bob Thompson said a bridge on County Road 1050 South recently had to be closed after an unexpected structural failure. "Our inspector for United Consulting just happened to be out there inspecting that particular bridge, and a single-axle delivery truck drove across it. And they actually witnessed the beams sag down and go back up," Thompson explained.

All of this comes as costs are skyrocketing.

Thompson said the county's $2 million dollars in planned Community Crossings projects are now expected to come in closer to $2.8 million when bids are opened next week, while the state's contribution remains at one million. "We have to come up with the $1.6 to $1.8 million additional if we want to continue on with that program," Thompson added.

Council member Mike Jessen raised the possibility of adding $3.5 million to this year's road budget and asked the Highway Department to come up with a list of priorities. "There's more traffic. We've had a tough winter. And when you talk to the residents, you know, at the top of their mind is they think the road conditions should be better, and, arguably, they should," Jessen said.

Still, that would likely only be enough to fix the "worst of the worst" roads.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.