OT - When The Going Gets Rough aka As Your Pothole Grows

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How are the roads that you drive on?
States Delay Highway Projects Due to Costs By KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer Fri Apr 7
The cost of building roads has gotten so high, not even dirt is cheap anymore. As a result, many states are postponing scores of highway projects.
The reconstruction work from the eight hurricanes that have hit the United States since 2004 has combined with a rise in population in some states to drive up the demand for labor, material and equipment. That, in turn, has pushed up wages and prices.
Surging fuel prices, China's immense demand for concrete and steel and the reconstruction of Iraq are also pushing U.S. road construction costs higher.
"We plan for cost increases, but this has been a situation that a lot of events have come together all at one time," said Lowell Clary, an assistant secretary at the Florida Department of Transportation.
Until 2004, highway material costs nationally were fairly steady, with a 12-year average annual increase of 1.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Stats. But those costs rose 12.5 percent in 2005, the bureau said.
According to the bureau, hot-rolled steel bars and structures were up 45 percent in 2004 from the year before, and diesel fuel was up 27 percent. Marked increases were also reported for crushed stone, ready-mix concrete and asphalt paving material.
In Florida, concrete went from $564 a cubic yard in 2004 to $749 last year, and a cubic yard of dirt climbed from $4.38 to $7.24, according to the state Transportation Department.
"Between higher labor increases and the materials increases, we're having to pass that on to the customer, therefore our prices are up substantially," said Mike Horan, a paving contractor near Sarasota.
Florida has about 8,000 projects in various stages in its five-year work program but was forced to defer 62 of them when its highway budget came up short about $1 billion, Clary said. Seven projects were deferred in booming Miami-Dade County.
Ricky Leme often sits in bumper-to-bumper traffic in an area where one of the projects has been postponed.
"They should get on it now," said Leme, a process server. "This is screwing up everybody's work. Right now it's taking about a half-hour to get to the freeway."
Some states are finding fewer contractors are bidding on jobs, either because they have more work than they can handle, or they cannot get the labor or the materials they need. Fewer bids can mean higher prices.
In Alaska, a road project that was expected to cost $6 million had only one bid, which came in at $10 million. Only two contractors bid on a Washington state road project in January, said Kevin Dayton, a construction engineer for the state. The low bid was $5 million over the engineer's estimate of $22.3 million.
To encourage more bids, Washington state is offering to give contractors a portion of the savings for coming up with creative ideas that reduce costs without compromising quality. California is trying to forecast cost increases more accurately and come up with more realistic job estimates, in the hope that will encourage more contractors to bid.
Contractors' bids are coming in well over the estimates in Georgia because the hurricane cleanup along the Gulf Coast has made it more difficult and costly to hire laborers, said David Graham, director of construction for the Georgia Department of Transportation. Georgia postponed 84 projects in 2005, Graham said.
"Equipment operators, truck drivers and laborers are getting tougher to find," he said.
__
Associated Press Writer David Fischer contributed to this report from Miami.
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On 7 Apr 2006 21:37:11 -0700, "Too_Many_Tools"

Man, I must be out of touch. Are those prices correct? Last time I priced concrete (admittedly a decade ago), it was running around $80-100 a yard in the Chicago area. I've never priced it down here (FL).
--
LRod

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wrote:

Different grade, produced on site by prevailing wage people who, though well-paid and a half, are getting scarcer.
Why this should be is a mystery, given the wages and the way of life. Up here, seems particularly suited for a young man - work your tail off for six, seven months, earning the equivalent of nearly two year's wages for your peers, then go ski. By the time you're older, you drive and supervise.
Perhaps it's that "work your tail off" part that scares them away.
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I suspect that the prices quoted are for bulk loads of the Portland Cement powder used to make the ready mixed concrete. I saw the original article, it was from the Associated press, written by an non technical jounalist.
LRod wrote:

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Given that it was from an AP article that makes sense. Non-technical writer but with the intent of showing how bad things are -- got to keep that vision of a "soup-line" America going.

+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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wrote:

The concrete for my shop floor in December was $105 per yard and that included surcharges for the calcium chloride and extra cement for 4500 PSI. When I did another shop 3 years ago it was $90.
Steve. central North Carolina
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LRod wrote:

It may be for material & labor. That would be my guess. Another reply mentioned pure portland cement, but I think that's sold by the ton.
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wrote:

Cement can be bought by the bag. When I bought a truck load of concrete blocks I *thought* I ordered bags of mortar mix and they delivered bags of cement. Luckily the local concrete company let me buy a trailer load of sand so the masons could make mortar.
Steve.
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The last time I bought concrete here in Minnesota was about two years ago and it cost me around $135 for one yard. That was for one of those you haul it type trailers of concrete. A concrete truck would probably have been around $100 a yard if I needed more.
I've heard over the last year or two that concrete is nearly impossible to get in Florida. Concrete suppliers won't even talk to you if you aren't a contractor or somebody who buys concrete all the time.
Brian Elfert
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Too_Many_Tools wrote:
Memory may be hazy, but ISTR that several years ago a couple test stretches of hiway were paved with a mix that included old ground-up tires in the asphalt and/or concrete. The reason this practice wasn't used widely was that the surface lasted much longer which meant less labor was needed over the long term. Texas had one of the test hiways IIRC.
buckshot

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California did a section of freeway in Oakland that way last fall. It's shot, now. One of the worst in the area, after 4 to 6 months. Much worse than before they started. I don't remember what went wrong, but something certainly did.
Patriarch
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Excuse me, but did you quote concrete at $749 PER YARD^3 ?
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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That's what it said. Most likely Ms Kennedy doesn't know the difference between cement and concrete.
Steve.
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Are you suggesting cement goes for $564-749 a yard? I don't think the math works out for that in a typical six bag mix. That would be roughly $90/yd for cement alone (on the low end), and the aggregate and sand hasn't even been added in yet. Nor have the other rents the concrete company has to account for.
However, I'm struck by something else--there are typically 564 lbs of cement in a cubic yard of concrete (six bag mix--according to the website I looked at). That number looks disturbingly familiar. What are the odds that some facts got mixed up somewhere?
--
LRod

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wrote:

That, or they could be quoting a total price for the job of repaving a stretch of road - where you take the costs of the raw materials and add in all the labor hours /at/ /prevailing/-/wage/ /rates/ for the site prep, surveying and layout, base mix and compaction, form work, placing, sawing stress relief joint lines, finishing and cleanup, striping and reflectors, signs and traffic signals, etc.
--<< Bruce >>--
--
Bruce L. Bergman, Woodland Hills (Los Angeles) CA - Desktop
Electrician for Westend Electric - CA726700
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I was trying a ballpark guess at how many bags of cement would go into a cubic yard and the cost per bag but I think you are correct and the cost range is still too high.
Kinda' makes me wonder about the rest of the facts in the article.
Steve.
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Which brings up one of my pet peeves... Many news articles I read are loaded with obvious factual errors, use of wrong words (allowed in place of aloud, for example), etc. It gives the impression of very poor quality reporting. Which, of course, leads one to suspect the reported facts that are not so obviously in error, not only in that article, but in the entire publication...
Jerry
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I find that whenever I am reading an article about a topic in which I am knowledgeable, they always have it wrong. So that does make me very suspicious about those articles that are on topics I am naive about. Of course, the exception to this is the Wall Street Journal...
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Which describes the main reason I'm _not_ working in journalism, effectively "wasting" several years' work. Disillusionment occurs very quickly when one hears the "professors" making egregious factual errors when "teaching" about various news subjects. Worse, they would not deign to even look at the accurate, or even just opposing, information when directed to it.
Firearms and drug issues were the most glaring of the error-riddled speeches*, but construction methods, failure modes in machinery, and economic issues followed closely behind. Law Enforcement, i.e Police, reporting classes were simply a waste of good time and professors' oxygen.
*Yep, speeches. (When not outright screeds) There was nothing being taught but the professors' personal biases, in classes which were supposed to teach students how such subjects should be approached by professional reporters.
Spend a lifetime some week reading a book called: "Interpretative Reporting." It propounds the doctrine that reporting should not only tell the traditional Five "Ws," but also why the readers should care. To be fair, it does mention even-handed reporting, in one sentence.
When advocating only mere even-handedness became reproachable, I left, three credit hours short of my B.S. and with 4 job offers. (But I couldn't buy into the B.S. of the other kind. (Stupid bull-headedness on my part, but that's the way it was. :)
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Specific gravity of 'standard' (I presume type 1A) portland cement is 3.15 That works out to 5443 pounds per yard. 6 bag mix is based on 94 pound bags or 564 pounds of Portland cement per cubic yard of concrete. Figure around 11% of the concrete is Portland cement, rest is aggregate. Aggregate in quantity runs low single digit $ per ton so most of the material cost for concrete is in the Portland cement.
Portland cement cost is highly driven by fuel. It costs money to run the kiln, it costs money to transport the product to the ready mix plant.
LRod wrote:

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