Higher asphalt prices may limit paving projects

Rising oil costs impact road maintenance

May 8, 2008

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

The rising cost of asphalt could reduce the amount of new pavement on Williston roads this year.

The town budgeted $227,150 for repaving projects in the fiscal year starting July 1. The budget would pay for new asphalt on eight stretches of road.

The budget, up 5 percent from the current fiscal year, was based on asphalt costing $53 per ton. But Public Works Director Neil Boyden said the town of Shelburne recently was quoted $64.21 a ton, 21 percent higher than the price Williston anticipated.

It is unclear exactly how far the paving budget will go because Williston has yet to put the work out to bid. But it seems likely that the annual effort to smooth the roughest roads will be scaled back.

"We may not get to all of them," Boyden said, adding that the town will probably use only one layer of pavement instead of two to stretch the budget.

About four miles of roads were to be repaved under the 2008-09 budget. Boyden said the highest-priority projects are Mountain View Road (Old Stage Road to Ledgewood Drive), Industrial Avenue (Vermont 2A to Muddy Brook) and Metcalf Drive. Those roads are in the worst shape.

The repaving effort includes finishing one project left over from last year. Boyden said in the next couple of weeks the town's contractor will complete 1.2 miles of Oak Hill Road between South Road and Sunset Hill Road.

Petroleum is a major component of asphalt. So paving prices are tied to the cost of oil, which has skyrocketed in recent months.

The town's paving budget is also being squeezed by a lack of state funding. Last year, the town received $123,000. This year, Williston did not get a state paving grant.

Paving work budgeted for each fiscal year is usually split between two construction seasons. The town does some projects in the summer and completes the remainder the following spring. That schedule allows the Public Works Department to adjust how much paving is done after accounting for highly variable snowplowing expenses.

Boyden said none of the roads slated for repair have deteriorated to the point that they have to be reconstructed, which is much more expensive than repaving.

"But if we wait another year some will probably be failing," he said. "So we have to cut if off before it gets to that."

Paving schedule

The following roads are scheduled to be repaved this summer or next spring:

Road name                                     Length

McJay/Lyman Drive                         0.6 miles

South Road                                     0.5 miles

Blair Park Road                         0.3 miles

Mountain View Road                         0.3 miles

Metcalf Drive                                     0.5 miles

Industrial Avenue                         0.3 miles

South Brownell Road                         0.5 miles

Maple Road                                     0.2 miles