Rising price of doing business could keep some construction projects off the road

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Gazette staff
April 5, 2010

The gasp said it all.

Rock County Highway Department Director Ben Coopman and his staff met last month with town officials to plan summer road construction. When county staff announced the cost per mile for repaving roads, town officials gasped, Coopman said.

Many towns contract with the county for construction work. The cost of materials has increased at least 15 percent since last year, Coopman said.

Material costs make up about 75 percent of construction costs, Coopman said.

He thinks many municipalities will do less roadwork than they wanted to because state-imposed levy limits prevent tax increases from matching the increased cost of materials.

“I think everybody is pulling back their horns as far as the number of miles they will be doing,” Coopman said. “Increased cost has reduced the number of miles they can do for the same dollar.”

One thing adding to the bottom dollar of road repairs is the method of making hot-mix asphalt, Coopman said.

In the past, it was common to use unrefined oil from the “bottom of the tank,” he said. Now the oil is more refined. That adds cost, although Coopman said workers can use less of it to pave and seal blacktop roads.

Rock County is letting bids to mill and pave three roads this summer including County B, County KK and County M.

In Janesville, Department of Transportation personnel this summer will oversee three major road projects paid for with federal stimulus money.

The projects include a bike trail on the city’s northeast side and resurfacing sections of Randall and Ruger avenues.

City-funded projects include rebuilding a bridge over Spring Brook.

The annual street resurfacing program is also scheduled, and 6.8 miles of street will be resurfaced at a cost of $1.25 million, Mike Payne, Janesville ’s engineering manager, said.

Rock Road Companies has the resurfacing contract. The projects also include some curb and gutter replacement at a cost of $560,000. Yeske Construction Co., Edgerton, has that contract.

Traffic flow will be maintained with some intermittent inconvenience on the days the streets are paved, Payne said.

The timetable will be announced on the city’s Web site and via press releases.

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