An Indiana county is struggling to solve the problem of horseshoe damage as it seeks to update its nearly 600 miles of gravel roads.
In Daviess County officials are proposing to use a mixture of state grant and local funding to pave long stretches of these roads, many of which run through Amish communities.
These communities pose a problem for road maintenance, however. Daviess County rebuilt roads last year that already are showing significant damage.
“We’re seeing deterioration because of the horses’ shoes,” Daviess County Highway Supervisor Phil Cornelius told the Washington Times Herald.
Horses are an integrated part of the community they live in. County officials are conflicted, reluctant to spend money on paving roads that run through the Amish community while understanding the damage that horseshoes can cause.
“It’s disappointing to me that we pave new roads like last fall, spent $1.2 million on it and you drive it today and the surface is all scarred up,” says Mike Sprinkle, president of the Daviess County Council.
The dilemma also lies in who takes responsibility for the damage.
“There’s road taxes and plate fees and to me we may need to go to the folks who are damaging the roads to pay for the cost of repairs to keep them in shape,” says Sprinkle.
A temporary solution under consideration is to raise the cost of buggy licenses; another is to change the shoes themselves.
The county has several sets of rubber shoes on order for trial, given that steel shoes cause the ruts. Still, that does not mean residents will be convinced to use them.
“I’ve had some fellas come to me and tell me they would rather pay for the road repairs than mess with the rubber shoes,” Councilman Dave Smith told the Washington Times Herald.
Those involved acknowledge the complexity of the issue at hand.
“I wish I could flip a switch and come up with an answer, but I don’t have one,” says Cornelius. “The folks in Ohio, in Northern Indiana, we are all going through the same thing. You would think somewhere, some genius would come up with a way to fix this.”