Parke Co. patching roads for tourism

 
Rockville, Ind. (WTHI) Parke County, Indiana is the home of the Covered Bridge festival. It’s not only a major draw for tourists, but one of the big pieces of the county’s economy.

“Tourism is about the biggest industry we have in this county, other than agriculture,” Parke County Commissioner Jim Meece said.

As the county thaws out from that record breaking winter, Meece said the up keep on the more than 700 miles of road in the county is essential to that industry.

“It’s very important I mean that’s the only thing we have as far as tourism is people coming to the county and enjoying themselves on a repeated basis and if they can’t drive around the county much, they’re not going to come back.”

Here is where the state road funding becomes Parke County’s problem. Every year, they’ve seen less and less funding for their roadways. With close to 300 miles of gravel road, each year Meece said the county tries to a pave a little more.

“All of our monies have to go to road maintenance,” he explained. “So its really hurting us, the pothole situation and the tight money situation it really limits us.”

Which is why Meece, like many county officials across the state is hopeful this week.

Thursday, Governor Mike Pence signed the first portion of a law that dedicates $400 million to highways and roads. Meece isn’t sure if that money is coming to Parke County.

But if the past is any indicator the state could be helpful in the future.

“What we got last year and we are supposed to be getting this year was that highway money it’s about $500 thousand for Parke County that we got last year and we should get again this year,” Meece said.

Until then April is pot hole filling time and there are still six months to get the roads ready for the main event.

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