This week, we highlight a key position in county government—County Engineer, Jim Peck.
For twenty-five years, Montgomery County was one of the few counties in Indiana without a position focused on our road infrastructure, bridges, and county thoroughfares. We knew we were missing a huge opportunity and were at a disadvantage by not have this kind of expertise on hand to assist in planning for our county’s future. So in January of 2018, the County Commissioners hired Jim, and from my perspective was one of the best decisions we have made to-date.
When Jim accepted the position, he stated that he wanted to use his years of diversified experience to support a growing and progressive community. When you ask people who have worked with him, they will say one of his best qualities is his ability to effectively communicate with clients. We have found that to be the case in our community as well. He routinely keeps us informed, states the facts, and outlines the various engineering options. He presents various solutions so we can make the best business decisions. His involvement saved the county nearly $1,500,000 on the sanitary sewer system design alone.
Jim’s duties include assisting the commissioners with asset management planning, grant writing and submission, consulting on roads, bridges, and rating systems as they relate to infrastructure planning, the sanitary sewer, water main, and treatment plant expansion.
Perhaps Jim’s most significant project to-date has been his work on the county thoroughfare project—our Key Future Corridors Map. He has been invaluable in helping create a preliminary thoroughfare plan which will be absolutely critical to Montgomery County’s future. This project has helped bring a focus to long-term planning of our infrastructure. It’s helped us identify the things we simply must do in order to be attractive to new businesses, which are also attractive to us. It is our wish to grow our community, but to grow it with quality businesses which fit our community values and character. These are things which will allow us to manage infrastructure with a more targeted and strategic approach.
When companies look to expand into new areas, they must be assured that the community they have chosen is committed to growth, committed to progress, committed to planning. For example, without a plan for quality grade roads and bridges, trucks hauling products, parts, equipment, etc. can’t efficiently get to where they need to go. Companies need to know the community is committed to the future and to look toward the future, means to plan.
Jim is committed to finding effective solutions while keeping the budget in check. One of his long-term goals is to address the condition of the county’s 325 miles of gravel roads. The county spends thousands of dollars and man-hours grading and spreading gravel on these roads only to see the roads deteriorate after heavy rains and/or during spring thaw. The first step is to provide adequate drainage for our roadways. The County is purchasing berm and ditch cutting equipment next year to addressing this problem. The second step is to create a solid road base, which can be achieved by lime stabilizing the subgrade (Indiana Department of Transportation lime all of its road projects). The final step is to overlay the road base with 3-4 inches of asphalt. To contract the lime and asphalt surface would cost approximately $300,000 per mile. To keep costs as low as possible, he has suggested purchasing the lime stabilization equipment, upgrading our paving equipment and have our Highway Department self-perform this operation at a considerable savings.
These are just a few examples of projects which demonstrate the value and experience Jim has brought to the table. The creation of the Key Future Corridors Map is a catalyst for so many discussions about future Montgomery County opportunities. We’re excited and proud to have him on our team and we look forward to many future successes.
John Frey is a Montgomery County Commissioner and can be reached at john.frey@montgomerycounty.in.gov.