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Improvements along Bartholomew County roads are ahead of schedule thanks to the warmer than normal winter and the summer drought.
Ditches along county roads were dug earlier than usual this year because “we didn’t have a winter,” said Dwight Smith, superintendent of the Bartholomew County Highway Department.
“It’s a lot easier to dig them out, and it makes a better ditch since we’re dealing with just dirt and not mud,” he said.
That’s led to a booming culvert-replacement effort, aided by a lack of rain that has kept the ditches empty and the creeks dry.
The highway department usually puts in between 30 and 40 culverts per year.
“We’re probably ahead of that right now,” Smith said.
Bartholomew County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said the highway department has replaced 40 to 60 culverts in the past month.
Smith said the department will start a roughly two-day project today to put a large culvert in a ditch along County Road 50W in German Township. The culvert measures 16 feet wide, 4½ feet high and 54 feet long. The road will be closed during the work.
Another large culvert will be placed under County Road 1100E in Rock Creek Township next week.
Kleinhenz said after roads are overlaid, the chipping and sealing program will begin for three or four weeks.
The county has budgeted $330,000 for overlay and chip-and-seal projects on 40 miles of county roads this year.
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