In a report gauging the cost for one mile of standard two-lane roadway, calculated with state department of transportation-adopted software, PCA Chief Economist Ed Sullivan shows how concrete enjoys an initial bid advantage of $82,000 compared to asphalt
Sources: Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Ill.; CP staff
In a report gauging the cost for one mile of standard two-lane roadway, calculated with state department of transportation-adopted software, PCA Chief Economist Ed Sullivan shows how concrete enjoys an initial bid advantage of $82,000 compared to asphalt. Update: Paving, The New Realities cites the current bid advantage against that of 2003, when asphalt held a $120,000 first-cost edge. By 2015, the report suggests, concrete paved roads will enjoy a $500,000 initial bid cost advantage over asphalt, which is increasingly subject to pricing volatility due to petroleum refineriesÌ fuel-processing optimization.
Given the supply challenges facing asphalt and the need to repair and expand the nation’s infrastructure, if all roads in 2015 were paved with concrete, state governments would save $37.5 billion in initial paving costs, Sullivan contends. During the roadsÌ life cycle, the savings resulting from paving with concrete compared to asphalt would total nearly $55 billion dollars.
The potential savings incurred by choosing concrete are overwhelmingly compelling, particularly at a time when states are facing tight budgets. The new realities in construction materials will force DOTs to make huge changes to how they evaluate road-paving projects.
Much of the savings stems from durability. PCA’s recent survey of DOT specifiers concludes that concrete pavement on average lasts 29.3 years before a major rehabilitation is required–against 13.6 years for asphalt pavement. Domestic and international market conditions add to the headwinds facing asphalt. Changes in refining practices aimed at extracting more fuel per barrel of petroleum are resulting in less binder output. That factor plus the potential of reduced import supplies, coinciding with increased paving material demand, might spur future asphalt shortages. Those conditions stand to continue the price escalation that has plagued blacktop materials for much of this decade.