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While the appearance of potholes is nothing new this time of year across the Region, Porter County County Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, is nonetheless disappointed with cracking that has shown up on two local county roads.

The roadways — Meridian Road and County Road 500 West — were treated with a costly protective sealant last summer designed to better protect the surface and extend the life of the road.

"What I'm seeing so far is not promising," Biggs said.

Porter County Highway Department Supervisor Andy McKay said he, too, has noticed the cracking, but is withholding judgment until he sees how the roads hold up over a longer period of several years.

The county paid $17,000 per mile to have the sealant sprayed on mile-long sections of Meridian Road, from U.S. 6 to County Road 900 North, and County Road 500 West, from Division Road to County Road 100 North, he said.

"I'm hoping it doesn't crack as bad," McKay said.

The Region is not alone with its cracking and pothole-strewn roadways, said Biggs, who is hearing similar woes this week while attending the Purdue Road School in West Lafayette.

"It's everywhere," he said.

Crews with the Indiana Department of Transportation have been working overtime filling potholes now that the cold weather has broken long enough to allow the work, said Matt Deitchley, communications director with INDOT's Northwest District.

"This is the worst pothole season since the polar vortex four years ago," he said.

The repeated pattern involving heavy snows, thaws, rain and refreezing has resulted in state highways littered with surface damage and left crews with no time until now to begin the repairs, Deitchley said. The crews had a two-week period of nothing but plowing snow, he said.

Porter County could ease frost law violations

Porter County has tried a couple different approaches over the years of better protecting its roads.

The protective sealant sprayed on the two roads last summer was made of soybean and other agricultural oils, along with natural polymers.

Biggs said the county will not be investing more in the product this year and will, instead, wait to see if it makes a difference over the next few years.

The county had success during the mid 1990s paving County Road 700 North between Airport and Willowcreek roads with an asphalt that included shredded tires, he said. But the product was expensive and is no longer available.

Biggs said he and the other two commissioners will discuss the potential of investing to create more all-season roads, which are better constructed and thus last longer. The county may be able to absorb some of the additional cost by doing design work in-house.

The commissioners also will talk about easing penalties for initial violations of frost laws, which limits vehicle weight on roadways during vulnerable thaw periods, Biggs said. The current fine could be as much as $5,000, which is a lot for a small business or truck driver not aware of the law, he said.

Biggs does not believe the change would wind up hurting the roads and costing taxpayers more in repairs because the higher fines would be retained for subsequent violations.

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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.