Saturday, June 13, 2009

Counties let roads revert to gravel to save money

Hard times are hard on some hard-surfaced roads: those in states and localities that can't afford to maintain them. In Michigan, Indiana, Vermont and probably other states, counties are letting blacktop roads return to gravel, reports Tim Martin of The Associated Press.

About one-fourth of Michigan's counties, "largely left out of the federal stimulus package, which focuses on highways and other major thoroughfares, say they can't afford some costly repaving projects and have crushed up deteriorating roads," Martin writes. "About 50 miles have been reverted in the last three years."

In Montcalm County, about 50 miles north of Grand Rapids, "Crushing the pavement and laying gravel cost about $10,000 a mile. Repaving a mile with asphalt would cost more than $100,000. The county had patched the roads in bits and pieces for years. But with potholes the size of steering wheels and no money for an extensive repaving, crews figured it wasn't worth another piecemeal job. ...The new gravel on Lake Montcalm Road actually offers an easier ride than the crater-filled pavement it replaced. Motorists have stopped driving on the roads' shoulders to avoid potholes. But speeds have slowed and there are complaints about chipped and cracked windshields from flying stones. ... And while gravel roads typically are cheaper to build, they aren't always cheaper to maintain." (Read more)

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