High cost oil forces DOT officials to replace asphalt with concrete

Brennon Morioka
Brennon Morioka

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Oil prices are affecting our budgets, bank accounts, and now may even take a toll on our roads.

It's getting even more expensive for road crews to maintain the asphalt we drive on and that has contractors looking for other options.

Even though the high price of oil is affecting basically everything, as hard as it is to believe our roads may be better off in the long run.

It's no secret getting from "A" to "B" is getting a lot more costly. And it's not your fault, it's not my fault, it's the asphalt.

"Prices have kind of gone through the roof the last couple of years," said Brennon Morioka.

With asphalt prices up nearly 26% from last year nationwide.

Brennon Morioka, Deputy Director with the Hawaii Department of Transportation says contractors are now looking for other alternatives to repair roads, selecting something more sturdy.

The DOT say one of the ways they're looking at curbing the cost of asphalt is using concrete like they already do on places like the H1 freeway. While it costs up to $300 more, it outlasts the durability of asphalt by 20 years.

With the increase rise of asphalt prices because of oil it's made concrete a much more competitive material.

"When you look over the life of the pavement and the amount of maintenance costs that have to go into asphalt the long term cost benefits for concrete can be very competitive," said Morioka.

And the concern isn't only about the material but how to get it there. Increases in the cost of diesel fuel used to transport, heat and lay the asphalt are adding to the urge for the DOT and its contractors to look at other options to fix our roads.

"You're going to see a lot more innovative methods and construction techniques in order to keep costs down, changes or improvements in materials," said Morioka.

A merge in mind set to offset the cost of oil on our pocketbooks and now our pavements.

The Hawaii DOT says the cost of oil doesn't affect the nearly dozen projects going on right now because contracts for those were already nailed down before prices skyrocketed.

While the asphalt allows for a smoother ride, they say future road work may come down to whatever avoids potholes in their pocketbooks.