Asphalt Shortage May Cost Jobs

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Crews state wide are using up what little asphalt is left to resurface roads. State contractor Grace Pacific estimates there's enough asphalt to last through this week. But already, four major state road projects have come to a screeching halt.

Grace Pacific is Hawaii's largest asphalt supplier, and it announced Monday layoffs due to its inability to get the main ingredient it needs. Smaller paving companies like Road Builders have already run out of asphalt. Nine of the company's 30-employees were told to stay home from work.

"The next two weeks, we'll probably be laying off more guys and eventually once our grading work gets done we'll be completely shut down," says operating manager Erik Rhinelander.

The company has been forced to put its 14-projects on hold.

"We got overhead, we got costs coming in, but no revenue coming to off-set that," says Rhinelander.

The company doesn't know how long it can last with the stalls and set backs.

On Monday, the state's largest asphalt supplier announced its laying off 165 of its employees. Grace Pacific has since received a fax on Tuesday from Tesoro stating it's experiencing a liquid asphalt shortage and that it should be back in operation Monday, June 5th. Road Builders didn't receive that fax.

"Without that letter basically we told our customers what's going on, but they need some kind of back up to request an extension," says Rhinelander.

Tesoro says the company says it made a mistake when putting in its order for crude. Officials say they were unaware the state's other refinery, Chevron, stopped supplying liquid asphalt as of April 10th.