“With the continuing escalation of global fuel prices, many State DOTS are beginning to experience unprecedented construction cost increases.” – USDOT

Over the last year, the price of asphalt has gone through the roof, and it’s hurting local road repairs and construction. I haven’t seen much about this outside of local articles (examples here, here, and here).

If oil prices keep their steady march upward, road repairs are going to become a ballooning problem for local communities and state governments. Some communities are already cutting back on paving projects, or are using less cover material to stretch resources further. But as one DOT rep stated, “With paving, you can’t let it get ahead of you, or you’re never going to catch up … It may not hurt you in the short term, but we’re going to need to get more money to pave in the future.”

It’s not unthinkable that road-maintenance costs could start leeching from other segments of local budgets, or lead communities to neglect some roads or raise taxes. Any of these options could negatively impact local economic or individual health. Over time, citizens might see impacts such as reduced local services, increased transportation costs, more hazardous roads, and increased vehicle-maintenance costs. Imagine the day when Joe Suburbia’s SUV finally gets the workout it was designed for, because his daily commute has become an off-road experience.

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To me, this is just one more way the fossil/automobile society is dragging us down. Our transportation system depends on fossil fuels both to make vehicles go and to maintain the surface vehicles run on. With fossil fuel prices rising, the hidden costs of the fossil/auto society become more visible everyday, burdening local communities with the upkeep of a failing system.