Eutrophication of a highway.

county roadMuch like a Lake becomes a pond, wetland, scrub and finally forest, what are the stages that a highway transitions through? That question came to my mind in my attempt to find out what the Indiana Department of Transportation planned to do with State Road 17 in Marshall County.
As anyone living in Culver can attest this thoroughfare is if not the most popular route to and from Culver it is of utmost importance because this is the route to the nearest hospital. County and state law enforcement also use this road as a direct route from the county seat. Most importantly I drive this road almost daily.
This past winter has been particularly hard on the road surface. The section of road between State Road 8 and the city limits of Plymouth seems to have suffered the worst of the damage. The roadway consists of potholes and crumbling or broken asphalt. There are several road cuts that have settled creating dips in the road, one at the apex of a curve. Lumps of cold patch that were used to fill potholes previously in the road have started to crumble away. In all I would conservatively estimate that the majority of the road surface (greater than 50%) is made of these elements.
Returning home Saturday morning driving on this former highway I wondered why nothing had been done to the roadway this spring and if anything was planned for the repair. Then it dawned on me that this section of road is outside of 465 and INDOT my not be aware of its condition. So I took upon myself to let them know.
A quick look at in.gov and I found the INDOT webpage. And there on the front page was a link to “Report a road problem or hazard”. After giving my personal information they provide a field to describe your concern with a limit of 400 characters. So it requires that you be succinct with your description.
With this in mind I thought what few issues am I going to highlight to get their attention. So of course I mentioned it was unsafe and let it go at that. Then I mentioned how it was slowing traffic and creating inefficient travel times. With the amount of money that is being spent on the US 30 bypasses by the state to save 20 minutes in the travel time from South Bend to Indianapolis I thought this would help.
Next I remembered all the foreign travel that state officials have made to encourage foreign investment in the state, I thought pointing out that the world renown Culver Academies heavily rely on this route. Potential investors from all points of the globe travel this road that currently resembles something from a 3rd world nation.
Finally I remembered the new tourism catch phrase and the amount of money and resources that went into developing it and thought surely that combined with every politicians desire to leave a legacy would get some attention. so I wrapped up my message with the line, “‘Honest-to-Goodness’ the current condition of this section of road is an embarrassment to the present administration.”
It was just a matter of time now I thought. I expected INDOT trucks lined up Monday morning to be starting work on State Highway 17.
And when that didn’t happen I realized that even if they did make it priority number one it would take several days to put together the engineering and resources to start repairing this road in the horrendous condition it currently is in.
Then late Monday afternoon I received an email from the LaPorte INDOT office. Of course the local head quarters was emailing me to thank me for bringing it the attention of the officials down state and how would I feel if it was no longer known as State Route 17 but simply the Greg. But that wasn’t what was in the email. I wasn’t a boiler plate email but it was close. No name, no number to follow up with, just a thank you for the notification and that they are currently accessing roads in the district and determining what should be fixed and when.
What?! If there is another road in this state that is in this condition or worse then somebody or several somebodies need to be replaced at INDOT. And any talk of building new roads should be halted until the department can repair the roads currently under their jurisdiction.
Highway, road, trail, two track, cow path and finally just a dashed line on a map somewhere.