AASHTO Journal, 25 January 2016
As oil prices have continued to fall, state departments of transportation are now finding the lowest costs for road-paving asphalt since the 2008-09 recession.
The lower cost for the oil-based construction material comes as states are getting ready to tap into the modestly higher federal funding levels Congress approved for highway programs under the five-year FAST Act authorization of the Highway Trust Fund.
The downtrend in construction materials costs also has infrastructure investment advocates saying now is one of the best times in decades for states and the federal government to boost project funding, in order to get a higher value out of transportation spending than when costs of basic materials are rising again.
In effect, some say, infrastructure investment is on sale and states could improve highways and other transportation systems at low cost now through projects that will boost their commerce and mobility for decades to come.
A number of state agencies track asphalt prices and publish indices that show monthly prices going back many years.
The Georgia DOT’s base asphalt price this month is $388 per ton. It’s been higher than that since November 2009, according to its index history.
Next door in Alabama, the state DOT lists performance grade asphalt at $1.54 a gallon, the lowest monthly price there since March 2008.
The New Jersey DOT says the average of asphalt suppliers’ selling price in both north and south New Jersey is $360 a ton this month, or $397 per metric ton. The last time it was this low was January 2008.
The Ohio DOT’s asphalt binder index lists a January 2016 price just under $377 a ton, down from nearly $551 a year ago. The only lower monthly price on its nearly seven-year spreadsheet is $368 for October 2009.