STREETS AND HIGHWAYS Higher oil prices to reduce miles of road to be repaved

A harsh winter left more major arteries on the repaving list than usual.
YOUNGSTOWN -- High oil prices don't just hit you at the gas pump -- they smack you in the pothole, too.
Because of higher oil and fuel prices, the city will spend about 15 percent more than last year to repave the same number of miles of road.
The increase means the city will shell out more tax money than last year, but in comparison, drivers won't see the benefit of more repaved roads.
The city will repave 31 miles of road on sections of 56 streets this year. The board of control last week awarded a $1,146,477 contract to low bidder Shelly and Sands Inc. of Akron to do the work.
The city expected to pay about 12 percent more for the same volume of work more because of rising gas prices, said Carmen Conglose Jr., deputy director of public works. But oil and fuel spikes in recent weeks drove the figure even higher, he said.
What's behind this
Oil is a main component of the liquid in the asphalt. Fuel is a major cost in trucking the material to job sites.
City council recently added $100,000 to the paving budget. That assured that at least the same amount of road as last year is repaved, Conglose said.
More major arteries are on the repaving list than in past years because of the harsh winter, he said.
Council members want to resurface as many pockmarked side streets as possible, but the main routes took a beating in the freeze and thaw of winter, Conglose said.
"The main arteries are just in terrible condition," he said.
Another twist is on the West Side. Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, D-4th, decided to dedicate her $40,000 share of curb and sidewalk money to paving instead. The money will be spent repaving 3,000 feet of North Meridian Road.
Rimedio-Righetti has pledged to clean up the West Side's gateways, Mahoning Avenue and Meridian. A stretch of Mahoning also is on the paving list this year. Curbs and sidewalks can come later, she said.
How things are done
Like last year, many of the streets on the list were roads passed over for work in prior years, Conglose said. The method reduces the time the short-staffed engineering department needs to spend evaluating newly suggested streets, he said.
Repaving is expected to start in a few weeks. The contract gives the company 75 days. Studies show the best-quality paving happens June through August with high temperatures and dry weather, he said.
The city awarded the contract as early as Conglose can recall in nearly 30 years in the department.
City engineers and council members have determined that the timeliest projects happen when they start the review of which roads to pave in March, he said.

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