Delaware County Highway Dept. resurfaced more than 120 miles of road in 2021

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MUNCIE, Ind. — Delaware County Highway Superintendent Tommie Humbert reported to Delaware County commissioners this month that his department had either paved or provided chip and seal resurfacing to 122.8 lane miles of road in the county last year.

Humbert said the highway department workers made it through the year following COVID-19 mitigations regarding the wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing. In October, the department shut down due to the spread of the virus among workers.

"I felt like it was something I had to do to protect the people," Humbert said

In addition to resurfacing, Humbert reported that striping was completed on all the resurfaced roads and some roads that were not resurfaced but needed the striping.

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Humbert said the department worked to improve safety at some dangerous intersection by installing new signage. One intersection, Delaware County Road 300-S and U.S. 35, received an additional "stop ahead" sign along with a flashing beacon on 300-S to warn motorists of the stop and the intersection. Rumble strips also were added to the county road. He said the intersection had been the site of multiple crashes, including a fatal collision.

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"This year (2021) we completed a lot of tree/brush trimming and cutting," Humbert said in his report. "(It's) the most that has been cut since the ice storm of 2005. Trimming greatly improves visibility and takes care of brush that can scratch vehicles. Our 2022 goal for the brush crew will be to cut even more than (2021)."

He reported the bridge crew and highway crew worked together to address problems with the berms in several townships. The bridge crew completed 103 work orders from the county's engineering department and completed maintenance to bridges, culverts, guardrails and ditches.

Sherry Riggin, president of the county commissioners, said she has seen great improvement in the department's performance in the nearly 10 years she has been on the board of commissioners.

"It's all about leadership," Riggin said of the improvement.

In the coming year she said that she hopes to have the department focus on culvert and drainage issues. In many areas of the county poorly done drainage work, from as long ago as 50 years, has plagued residents.

Humbert said his department has had to stretch its budget due to inflation. Some road maintenance work under the department's five-year work plan had to be slowed due to costs increasing, but that work will continue in 2022.

Humbert praised his 38 employees, saying they have been productive and worked well together.

"The attitude of these guys is unbelievable," he said. "There is more teamwork now than there has probably ever been."

The department is looking to fill a position right now but Humbert said he wasn't going to rush the hiring. "I'm going to be picky," he said.

David Penticuff is the local government reporter at the Star Press. Contact him at dpenticuff@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: County highway superintendent reports productive year despite COVID-19

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