UDOT hit with construction costs

Jul 16 2011 - 10:06pm

LAYTON -- Construction costs have been on a steady rise for a few years, and in response the state is changing the way it builds roads.

According to a recent study released by the Associated General Contractors of America, construction material costs have increased 8.3 percent in the last 12 months.

Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Vic Saunders said changing prices in road-related construction material have caused the state to rethink the way it works on many projects.

"We've mostly been impacted by the rising cost of asphalt," Saunders said. "Now concrete is starting to become our choice."

According to the AGCA study, asphalt paving mixtures are up 6.3 percent from a year ago, while concrete products are down 0.02 percent.

Although concrete is typically still more expensive than asphalt, the rising cost of asphalt makes concrete the better deal, Saunders said.

"Concrete is a better deal because of the ease of maintenance," Saunders said. "It just lasts longer and requires fewer repairs than asphalt."

Saunders said three significant Top of Utah projects, either currently under construction or completed within the past year, have all utilized concrete.

The reconstruction of Syracuse Road, 500 South in Bountiful and 12th Street in Ogden were all built with concrete.

The AGCA says although construction costs are on the rise, states should continue to invest in transportation.

"Allowing our highways and bridges to degrade will only make matters worse," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the AGCA's chief executive officer. "(It will) force taxpayers to pay more to fix broken buildings and infrastructure."

There are 13 Top of Utah projects, totaling nearly $76 million, on UDOT's pavement rehabilitation project list that are unfunded.

The projects include mostly road surface work on major highways in Weber, Davis, Morgan and Box Elder counties.

Statewide, the unfunded projects on the list amount to $226.27 million.

UDOT officials say the projects remain a priority and the state hopes to get more funding from good bids or from funds that may be returned as other projects are completed under cost.

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