Maine cuts back on some road work; higher costs blamed

| 8/1/2006

The high price of fuel and paving materials is forcing the state of Maine to cut back on road work this summer.

David Cole, the head of the Maine Department of Transportation, said the cost of asphalt has more than doubled in the past year. Asphalt is a petroleum derivative.

Higher prices for asphalt results in fewer projects being complete and in some cases lower grade treatments “that may only last seven to eight years instead of one that would last 12 to 15 years,” Cole told the Bangor Daily News.

The rising costs of fuel and construction led the Maine DOT last fall to defer one-fifth of all the projects it had proposed for the current two-year budget cycle, which represented a total of $130 million in work throughout the state.

The cutback took less of a bite this year when state lawmakers approved a $15 million supplemental appropriation and opted to “re-engineer” several of the projects to reduce costs, the Daily News reported.

Cole said existing contracts were not deferred. Projects specifically required by federal legislation also were not disrupted.