Winter road damage

A snowplow clears a section of cracked roadway in Valparaiso.

Bob Kasarda, The Times

VALPARAISO — As if all the snow and ice is not enough for motorists to contend with, the head of Porter County's highway department said potholes and other road damage are already beginning to appear.

The culprit is the recent weather cycle of a deep freeze followed by a sudden thaw and then a quick return of the cold, Porter County Highway Department Supervisor Andy McKay said.

McKay said his department hoped the thaw would last a little longer to allow for some quick repairs, but the snow began falling again too quickly.

The problem was exacerbated by the rain that fell during the short thaw period and added more moisture to the mix, he said.

"A rain like that is really hard on them," McKay said of the winter roads.

The damage occurs, he said, because the varying soils under the roads freeze and thaw at different rates, resulting in cracking on the surface.

Porter County Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, said there is a concern about the conditions because county government is responsible for maintaining 840 miles of roads throughout the unincorporated areas.

"That last thaw really killed us," he said.

The damage adds up to more than just a bumpy ride for motorists. McKay said he expects his crews will be busier with repairs this year and using up the available funding and products more quickly than usual.

"We're going to do what we can with what we have," he said.

Good said the county has also used a lot of its available road salt already this winter.

The road repair work can be done whenever there is a break in the cold and does not have to wait until spring, McKay said. Yet when the crew went to carry out some quick repairs recently, the patching product was frozen.

Last year's road damage was minimal as compared to what the county already faces this year, he said.

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Porter/LaPorte county reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.