Harsh winter has road crews busy

Beth Rumsey

Staff Writer

The Ripley County Highway Department road crews have begun repairs to the county roads after this past winter delivered more snow storms than in the past, according to Junior Heaton, highway department supervisor. He noted that approximately 850 tons of salt was used this winter, which is more than usual.

There are about 720 miles of county roads in Ripley County, both gravel and blacktopped. Currently, one of the challenges is the rain which prevents some repairs to the gravel roads as the ground is too soft for the equipment used.

Another challenge is funds. According to Heaton, expenses increased as the budget for the highway department was cut. “The money for the highway department’s budget comes from the State via the gas tax,” noted Heaton.

“Materials are being stretched in order to repair as many roads as possible. Blacktopped roads are more expensive to maintain,” said Heaton.

Fewer employees present another challenge for the highway department’s three district foremen, Barney Bales, District 1; Bob DeBurger, District 2; and Ray Toops, District 3. As employees retired, there were no replacements hired, according to Heaton.

Motorists are reminded to slow down while there are work crews repairing potholes. “Please be considerate of the guys at work,” requested Heaton.

Ripley County residents are asked to be patient. With its limited funds, the highway department is not able to perform as many repairs on some of the county roads.

The Ripley County Highway Department is located on Hasmer Hill Road near Osgood. For questions or to report a problem with the county roads call 812-689-4720.

Springtime brings work crews to the county roads in an effort to repair as many roads as possible. Motorists are asked to slow down as they pass the work crews.