For Lake Station Mayor Bill Carroll, improving the city’s roads is more than a passion project – he sees it as a necessity. The city is both heavily trafficked and just as susceptible to the wear and tear of Northwest Indiana’s climate as any other – and the condition of the roads before he was elected reflected that.
“When I first took office, I wanted to take on projects that were directly affecting our citizens,” Carroll said. “I thought the best way to do that would be by tackling the roads, they were in pretty desperate need of repair.”
The COVID-19 pandemic quickly offered Carroll a surprising boon – lower asphalt prices. He took advantage to begin the most expansive roadwork project that the city had seen in decades. Many prominent roads and arteries were fixed, but plenty of work remained for the residential streets and side roads.
“We’re taking on a bunch of roads each year,” he said. “We want to take care of the people that missed out on that first run. These are major streets to these residents because that’s where they live. It doesn’t have to be a big road for it to be an important one to Lake Station.”
This year, Carroll is expecting to repave 13 streets thanks to the benefit of a Community Crossings Grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation, which will fund the resources and manpower to get the job done.
“These are all roads that I’d wished we could’ve done last year, if we’d just had the finances to do so,” Carroll said. “So, as soon as we had that financial availability I thought, 'alright, let’s get to work.'”
Each street being paved this year was chosen after close analysis from the mayor and his team.
“I went up and down the streets with the superintendent and the street workers making notes on what roads had the worst potholes and which looked the worst,” Carroll said. “I wanted to go street to street, personally, so we could figure out what roads we need to tackle.”
The project is tentatively scheduled for completion by mid-summer, but plenty of other roadwork developments are still in the pipeline.
“I don’t think roadwork is ever going to be something that stops for me,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a plan that we’re talking with the city superintendent about right now that we’re really excited about.”
The city recently purchased a cold planer, which is a machine used to remove old pavement or concrete from driving surfaces. It is one of the first steps to creating a self-sufficient roadwork crew operated by the city itself.
“We want to be able to mill down, asphalt, and pave roads ourselves,” Carroll said. “That way, these smaller sections of ruined roads don’t turn into big sections that need to be completely repaved. We’ll be able to tackle those potholes ourselves. The more things we can do in-house, the better it is for Lake Station.”
By bringing elements of road maintenance in-house, the city can save money and conduct repairs in a much more timely fashion.
“It’s a win-win all around,” he said. “We’ll have Lake Station citizens and Lake Station employees working on Lake Station roads with Lake Station equipment.”
To learn more about the City of Lake Station, visit www.lakestation-in.gov.