Gravel roads in a rural southwestern Indiana county recently paved with asphalt to boost economic development are being damaged by horse teams used by the region’s large Amish population, according to frustrated county officials.
Daviess County has more gravel roads than any other Indiana county, with nearly 600 miles of such roads, the Washington Times-Herald reported. County officials have been using grant money to pave some of those roads with asphalt, but the newly paved roads quickly suffer damage from the impact of steel horseshoes worn by horses pulling Amish buggies.
County Highway Supervisor Phil Cornelius said the horseshoes leave ruts in the blacktop as the plodding animals pull those buggies along.
“I wish I could flip a switch and come up with an answer, but I don’t have one,” he said. “You would think somewhere, some genius would come up with a way to fix this.”
Daviess County Councilman Mike Sprinkle said the county spent $1.2 million last fall to pave roads and aid development in the county’s eastern areas, but those roads are already damaged.
Cornelius said the county needs to find a solution and one possibility would be to raise the cost of buggy licenses to cover the annual cost of repairs that now run up to $50,000 annually. He said that cost would climb as more roads become paved in the Amish community.
The county has experimented with ways to limit the horse-inflicted damage, including testing buggy lanes paved with a mix of asphalt and steel slag and using rubberized pavement to see if that limits the wear and tear.
County officials have also looked into rubber horse shoes and have several sets on order, but getting people to use them might be difficult.
Councilman Dave Smith said some local residents have told him they “would rather pay for the road repairs than mess with the rubber shoes.”