Mesa County Postpones Projects as Price of Asphalt Rises

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Mesa County Project Manager Louie Dorlac says the increase in asphalt prices have pushed back beautification projects so the county can concentrate on the necessities. "We are obviously going to be focusing on safety related projects first and we are going to make sure those get completed," says Dorlac.

But the price of asphalt is not just affecting the county. United Companies President Craig Lamberty says, "It puts a squeeze on everything it does. There is a big issue with C-DOT running out of money to do the highways so they are looking at new ways to tax to get more money, so it really affects everyone."

Lamberty says since gas and oil prices have increased, many refineries are investing in cokers. Cokers squeeze extra oil out of the sludge and oil by-products in a barrel of oil, to maximize oil production levels. Typically these by-products are what has been sold to make asphalt.

Dorlac says that the increase in asphalt prices have pushed the county to consider concrete as an alternative. However, concrete could be facing rising costs itself as aggregate becomes increasingly scarce in Mesa County.

United Companies uses 15 percent recycled product in their asphalt and concrete and says it hope to use up to 30 percent in the next few years. Lamberty says that asphalt is 100 percent recyclable. "You could grind it up, crush it, the aggregates are recyclables out of it and then you could melt it down so you could reuse the oil in it. With the supply of oil going down you have to find ways of using less which recycling asphalt does," says Lamberty.

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