High Costs, Shortage of Asphalt Could Delay Montrose County Road Projects

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Montrose County officials say they're feeling the pain at more than the pump these days. As the price of asphalt continues to skyrocket and the supply continues to go down, they say they will likely have to put several road projects on hold.

Mike Manhart drives the roads of Montrose County every day. He says while many are in good shape, plenty of others are in need of help.

"Some of them are in really poor condition," said Manhart. "Especially with all the new building, the new accesses, water lines and all that."

It's a fact that Montrose County officials say they know all too well. They say with tremendous growth in the area, maintaining roads and building new ones have remained top priorities. But this year, with a shortage of asphalt, that's been easier said than done.

"Our numbers came back substantially higher than the budgeted estimates," said Montrose County Engineer Brian Wilson.

In 2007, County officials say they paid $57.50 for a ton of asphalt. This year they budgeted to spend $62.50 a ton, but say bids they've received on their 2008 projects start at $83 a ton.

"That's twenty-five dollars and fifty cents a ton higher than was last year," said Wilson. "That's just an astronomical increase in cost."

Officials say they've already cut plans to overlay 5725 Road and will have to make decisions on other overlay and reconstruction projects on 6400 Road, 25 Mesa Road in the West End, 5975 Road, Jig Road, 6250 Road, and 6225 Road.

"We'll try to get them done, but we may not be able to achieve them all," said Wilson.

The county says efforts to move forward with these projects will be helped by the new sales tax revenues Montrose residents voted for in April. But that still may not be enough.

"As inflation eats those dollars up, you have to be very careful how you spend them," said Wilson.

So for now, residents say they'll just have to deal and trust that the county will continue to do the best it can.

"For maintaining the roads, if we don't keep them up, it's going to cost a lot more later," said Manhart.

Officials say they can hold off on making their final decisions about several of the projects until the fall. But they say once the rain and snow come in, they won't be able to work on anything until spring of 2009.