Nearly every person living in Porter County gets in their car and drives somewhere every single day. Whether it’s to work, or school, or the grocery store, transportation is integral to our lives. Without the upkeep and maintenance of our roads, driving would become not just more difficult, but dangerous too. That’s why many Porter County departments, such as the Highway Department and the Department of Development and Storm Water Management, are actively working together to preserve our roads and make driving as safe as it possibly can be.
The Porter County Highway Department takes care of over 800 miles of road in the unincorporated areas of Porter County. Bob Thompson, Director of the Department of Development and Storm Water Management, explains that a lot of detail goes into the repairing of our roads.
"We go out and physically look at the conditions of the roads. There are a number of factors that we look at such as the average daily traffic and what the functional classification is. Whether the road is a local road, a collector, or an arterial, and then the condition of the road. All of those items are factored in for us to determine which set of roads have the highest need to be repaved,” said Thompson.
All the information the department gathers is put into a computer program that helps the team strategize which roads need the most attention so that people can continue to drive safely.
“It combines these factors and helps score what roads we need to concentrate on the most. It’s great to see that we're setting up a strategy based off of the needs that are shown through this modeling program,” said Thompson.
Thompson is proud of the work he and his department have done to extend the life of the county’s roads and prioritize the community’s well-being.
“There's been a lot of great work that's been done. Hopefully, this continues so that way we can continue to make gains and keep improving our road system and people’s safety,” said Thompson.
In 2019 alone the Highway Department preserved an astounding 120.45 miles of road, which is 15% of the roads they are responsible for. They also just recently paved over 10 miles of road and have plans to pave another 13 or 14 starting in October. However, it’s not just roads the departments maintain. Thompson explains that one of the main things he’s been focusing on recently are bridges. Typically bridges have to be inspected every two years for safety. However, if there is a bridge that is in particularly poor condition it has to be inspected every single year. In 2017 there were 20 bridges that had to be inspected annually. Since Thompson’s department has taken over highway engineering, however, they’ve gotten that number below 10. As if that isn’t incredible enough, all of the bridges still remaining on that list already have design contracts in place to replace them.
“That's probably the biggest thing I'm proud of right now, we're doing an awesome job at getting our bridges back into great shape,” said Thompson.
Thompson explained that some projects are quite big and therefore take a lot of time and attention, but the end results and people’s safety are always worth the time.
“The benefits afterwards are huge,” said Thompson.
At the end of the day, the Porter County Government departments are driven to improve the community and make it a safer and more enjoyable place to live.
To learn more about all the Porter County Departments that work together to maintain its roads, visit, https://www.porterco.org/.