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Asphalt costs trip up PennDOT projects in Franklin County

Resurfacing of Pa. 16 at Waynesboro Center Square could be stalled

Resurfacing of Pa. 16 at Waynesboro Center Square could be stalled

August 15, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The escalating cost of asphalt has delayed or changed several Franklin County road projects, among them Waynesboro's Center Square redesign that has been 10 years in the making.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation still plans to open bids for Center Square and the synchronization of Pa. 16 traffic lights on Aug. 28. However, resurfacing of the road initially will be excluded from the project.

"That's one victim in the wild fluctuation of asphalt prices. ... This was one of the jobs that almost got removed completely," PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny said.

This month, PennDOT is paying $834 per ton for liquid asphalt versus $603 per ton last month. The price last year at this time was $349 per ton, Penny said.

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PennDOT might be able to get a better price for asphalt when it comes time to pave Main Street off the square next year, Penny said. Because PennDOT does not allow paving to be done after Oct. 15, that portion of the project would have occurred in 2009 anyway, he said.

Expectations are that bids will come in around $2 million for the Center Square project, which will "bump out" the corners of sidewalks so that they extend further into the intersection. Also, new traffic signals will have countdown devices that tell pedestrians how much time remains for them to cross the street.

PennDOT projects being delayed include several miles of Pa. 16 around the problem intersection of Hill Road, where a turn lane was added last year to improve safety. Bid openings were supposed to be Thursday for that resurfacing east of Greencastle, Pa.

Also, work on six miles of Pa. 75 in the Fort Loudon, Pa., area has been postponed.

The Borough of Waynesboro has watched the cushion of money budgeted for the reconstruction of CV Avenue disappear due to increased paving costs.

"It ate the reserve," Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

He recently told the borough street committee that the "comfortable margins that we like to build into these projects aren't so comfortable anymore."

Borough Engineer Kevin Grubbs said efforts with CV Avenue should start within two weeks and last about 60 working days. He estimated that asphalt has cost the borough an additional $33,000 for CV Avenue.

Resurfacing for St. Andrews Drive and Garfield Street have been canceled because the price of asphalt cut into the amount of Community Development Block Grant money available, Grubbs said.

"Welty Road we put on hold until next year," he said, blaming asphalt and other problems with funding.

Washington Township did not bid any blacktop projects in 2008 due to predictions about asphalt and a lawsuit from elsewhere in the state that affects what projects are subject to prevailing wage, Township Manager Mike Christopher said.

He quoted a 25 percent increase in the cost of blacktop since May for the materials the township uses for routine overlays.

"When you couple that with the Pennsylvania prevailing wage in maintenance, you add another 10 to 15 percent for that," Christopher said.

In Antrim Township, the repaving of Gearhart Road recently was postponed when the township supervisors rejected a paving bid.

"From January 2007 to August of this year, and this is from the Pennsylvania Asphalt Pavement Association for our zone, the prices went up 283 percent," Antrim Township Manager Ben Thomas Jr. said.

Thomas said the township used 13,906 tons for the base coat and 5,562 tons for the top coat of the 10 miles of roads it paved this year.

Penny and the municipal officials described a period of waiting to see what happens with the cost of asphalt.

"We're assuming that sooner or later, it's going to follow the price of crude (oil), which is going down," Hamberger said.

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