VDOT Switching to Less Durable Asphalt

Double-digit increases in the prices of cement, asphalt and diesel fuel will cost the Virginia Department of Transportation an additional $180 million this year for maintenance and construction projects, reports the Virginian-Pilot. “The higher costs are forcing VDOT managers in Hampton Roads to switch to cheaper, less durable asphalt for some paving work planned this spring.”

Said Jeffrey C. Southard, executive vice president of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance: “In the last two years, we’ve seen construction costs go up unlike anything we’ve seen in the last 50 years.”

There are two possible ways to respond. The first is to continue Business As Usual, refusing to alter Virginia’s practice of adding new road capacity to meet demand and raising taxes to pay the escalating bills for raw material. The second is to seek alternatives to the tax-and-build philosophy.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said in his campaign that Virginia can’t pave its way out of traffic congestion. Now it looks like Virginia might even not be able to pave over its potholes. But the Governor is expending his political capital in support of a Business As Usual transportation policy. Go figure.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


8 responses to “VDOT Switching to Less Durable Asphalt”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    I relly hat the slogan “You can’t pave your way out of congestion”. Not that it issn’t true, but it has nothing to do with pavement. As lang as an inordinate proportyion of the population wants to go to the same place at the same time, you willhave congestion, pavement or no pavement, Metro or no Metro.

    But to say that we can’t even afford to pave over our potholes is tantamount to admitting that we are going to resign ourselves to the dirt road and mules existence of third world countries.

    Even if we never build a single new road, we will need to raise enough money to keep the ones we have in good repair. Not continuing that much of business as usual can only have a negeative impact on our lives and busnesses, as usual.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Sounds like Catch-22 to me.

    What is VDOT or the Governor supposed to do, use the cheap stuff now, which will increase the already bloated VDOT maintenance budget down the road (no pun intended), or pay more for the good stuff that will hopefully last longer?

    This scenario is the crux of the Senate’s argument for higher taxes and more money. I don’t like the idea of paying more taxes but I also see where the Senate is coming from.

    If you go with the House budget your going to be forced to use the cheap stuff. By going with the Senate budget you will at least be able to use the good stuff and stay ahead of inflation – and this is just ONE example. There are hundreds if not thousands of projects statewide that are in this same predicament.

    What’s better for the taxpayer, paving the road twice every ten years with cheap asphalt or once every ten years with good asphalt?

  3. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    There may well be a need for higher revenues, but why not first try fixing some of the systematic problems within VDOT that were identified by the state auditor’s report. One of those problems is the lack of institutional cost controls. That seems to be a pretty huge problem that could be contributing to the transportation problems. Another major problem is the lack of coordination between projects funded and an overall transportation plan. In other words, we build whatever can be lobbied through the CTB, regardless of the economics or engineering involved.

    These two problems alone look like low-hanging fruit that should be taken. I’ve not heard either the Governor or the Senate address those issues. Why not? Is this good government?

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Are they sure they haven’t ALREADY switched to less durable asphalt?

    In the course of the last six months I’ve seen literally dozens of potholes fully reappear within 4-6 weeks after being “repaired”. It certainly hasn’t been because of bad weather – there hasn’t been any.

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Not only less durable asphalt but outright deferral of re-paving projects – honestly admitted by local VDOT administrators.

    But here’s the operative sentence in the news article about using cheaper asphalt:

    “Without more funding, VDOT expects to have to spend ALL of its money on maintenance by 2010, leaving NONE for building new roads or transit services .”
    (VDOT’s Chief Financial Officer – Barbara Reese).

    That’s 3 years from now, give or take whether we’re talking about calendar years or fiscal years.

    So what ARE they arguing about in Richmond?

    Well, isn’t it about whether they’re going to allocate BETWEEN 1/2% or 1% in annual funding to chip away at the 100 billion backlog?

    What exactly are folks expecting at the eventual (presumedly) drammatic conclusion of the GA when arms joined and smiling faces jointly announce with great fanfare that a “compromise” has been reached?

    Let me predict that they will NOT issue a statement that says: “Yes Virginia, we CAN build our way our of congestion”. 🙂

  6. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Well, look at the bright side. We get nice new, smooth and quiet pavement twice as often.

  7. Tom James (aka Brave Hart) Avatar
    Tom James (aka Brave Hart)

    Maybe, can switch to Guest Workers to offset costs?

Leave a Reply