Harsh winter makes for costly road repairs in Tippecanoe Co.

TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) – Last winter brought problems to the Tippecanoe County Highway Department.

Months after a number of storms dumped large amounts of snow in a short amount of time, a $400,000 appropriation into the Tippecanoe County highway budget is still being used to repair roads this fall.

Highway Department Executive Director Opal Kuhl said the average cost for the last six winters was $319,000, but last winter cost was about $732,000.

“A lot of that was fuel costs, of course, and overtime,” said Kuhl. “Because last year most of our storms came in before the weekend, so we had to work Saturdays and Sundays.”

The department got an extra $400,000 appropriation from the county council in the spring to help offset the extra costs.

“That helped us out because that money was going to have to come out of our paving budget,” said Kuhl.

As a result, the county is still able to repair its yearly allotment of roads focusing on the ones with the most damage.

“It’s going real well,” said Kuhl. “We’re working on our chip sealing and paving right now. We do a lot of that work in September and October.”

Kuhl said County Road 600 North was one of the first to be paved because it was in the worst shape. At the moment, the crews are about halfway finished with their projects. However, recent rain and storms are slowing the repairing process down a bit.

“We’ve spent a lot more time mowing, cutting back trees,” said Kuhl. “And then we had a lot of storms with wind, so we’ve had a lot more trees down.”

Kuhl said the county highway department is already preparing for next winter. She said they had to replace equipment because some of the plows were damaged from last winter.

“Some of our big, older V-plows that we use didn’t survive the winter,” said Kuhl. “We don’t have to use those very often. We had to use them a lot.”

The Tippecanoe County Highway Department is figuring out a budget for this winter. Kuhl said she is concerned about next year’s budget because prices for products, like salt, keep rising. In the last 10 years, salt costs have gone up 81 percent.

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