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“Washington drivers already are experiencing pain at the pump because of higher oil prices. Soon, they could face more discomfort behind the wheel, too.

Area transportation officials say they have scaled back or delayed road projects because of the rising cost of asphalt, which is made with crude oil. Those delays could create bigger problems in the future, because the longer a road deteriorates, the more it costs to repair it.

The asphalt overlay placed on roads typically is made with sand and gravel, held together with a liquid binder called liquid asphalt that is distilled from crude oil.

The cost of a barrel of crude oil hit a record high of $147 in July but now is hovering around $120. The price of the binder has doubled this year because of both the higher price of crude oil and low production capacity.

Thurston County

In the midst of budget tightening, Thurston County has reduced the number of lane miles that receive “chip seals” from 80 to 22, and staff members are thinking about narrowing the thickness of asphalt overlays from 2 inches to 1.5 inches, said Brent Payton, the roads department operations manager.

Chip seals involve spraying liquid asphalt mixed with water, then coating it with a layer of aggregate, typically a sand-and-gravel mix. These projects preserve the road and restore its surface, costing far less than an asphalt overlay but not lasting nearly as long.

They offer good fixes for rural roads, which don’t have a lot of traffic, officials say,” quoting The Olympian.


[Ed. Note: Yelm continues full-steam ahead in road projects. The City Council will authorize tonight over $1million to improve Coates Road behind the Middle School. The City Council heard recently how all of its road construction projects have cost overruns. This writer certainly hopes a contingency is in-place for the Coates Road construction, so city officials do not have to keep going into reserves to pay for these overruns.]

On the City Council Agenda tonight:

“To authorize Mayor Harding to sign a contract in the amount of $900,021.17 with Wood & Son Earthwork and Utility Contractors, LLC, for the construction of the Coates Avenue NW Roadway Improvement Project.

The total project cost is estimated at $1,280,000 which includes all engineering, construction, right of way acquisition, water and sewer line improvements and all environmental permitting.

… Approximately $115,977 will go to Gray & Osborne, Inc. for construction management of this project.”

Ed. Note: Over $1.2 million for a 3 tenths of a mile road??? By contrast, Thurston County is reworking Bald Hill Rd. for less than $1 million per mile, some on hilly & curvy terrain.

Posted by Steve on August 12, 2008 at 5:23 am | Permalink

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