Asphalt supply shortages delay road repairs in Weld County
Last week the Weld County Department of Public Works released a statement asking for “patience and understanding” from residents after learning that several road projects will face indefinite delays in completion due to issues related to asphalt supply raising the question if projects in Larimer County and Berthoud might be affected.
“This is as frustrating for us as it is for those traveling on our county roads,” said Mike Freeman, Commissioner Coordinator for the Weld County Department of Public Works. “However, this disruption in materials is not only affecting Weld County but several state projects as well, so we ask our residents to be understanding with us on our current road closures while we wait for our asphalt supply to be replenished.”
Public Works Deputy Director Curtis Hall explained the lowered asphaltic cement (AC) supply allocations are having a direct impact on the county’s petroleum-based construction; mainly projects requiring paving. He said the department has faced asphalt shortages before, but this is the largest that’s occurred in the middle of the construction season in recent years. He said the department will learn more about how long the low AC supply will last in the coming days, but said once production resumes it could take up to four weeks to have enough supply to catch back up with demand, meaning county projects may not resume until August or September. The pause on construction means roads currently closed will remain closed longer than originally planned.
“The asphaltic cement shortage was identified and relayed to Public Works by our contracted asphalt material suppliers. We’ve been told the delay is related to a lack of refined oil being allocated and delivered to asphalt plants, which is delaying the ability of the asphalt plants to produce the materials needed to complete county construction projects,” said Jay McDonald, Director of the Weld County Department of Public Works.
When asked if the upcoming closure of Colorado Highway 56 over I-25 project would be delayed Colorado Department of Transportation Communication Manager Jared Fiel responded by saying, “CDOT is tracking concerns about asphalt availability and is coordinating across our projects to make sure any disruptions are minimized. We have not experienced any widespread issues to this point and will continue to monitor closely so that projects are completed.”
In Larimer County, according to Todd Juergens the Road and Bridge Director for the county, there are currently no projects that have had to be delayed or canceled as a result of the shortage. He continued by saying they have completed their annual chipseal project and structural patching work is on schedule. However, Juergens continued by saying they have been notified by the contractor who will be performing the annual asphalt overlay project that a shortage is likely to delay that project which is set to begin in early August, “…my sense of this is that the completion of our overlay project will be delayed 4-6 weeks which may push into cold weather which would delay completion of the 2021 project into the spring of next year,” he said.
Over the last year, other municipalities in Colorado, as well as Alaska, New York, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada and Washington, have experienced project delays due to asphalt shortages.
According to a report from the Associated Press some states, including Colorado, have responded to the problem by reducing the amount of asphalt required to be poured on a street. Others have changed the chemical requirements of the asphalt they use.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration stated on Wednesday that crude oil production in the U.S. is anticipated to decrease by 210,000 barrels per day due to oil depletion among certain geographic areas in which supply was previously bountiful.
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