Prince street repavement carries heavy price tag

CNJ staff

The city is opening bids Thursday for work on Prince Street, but asphalt prices have officials concerned.

The work, which covers Prince Street from 21st Street to Llano Estacado, includes repaving, installing drainage and adding sidewalks compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas. The work has been viewed as necessary for years, but the price tag is in question, he said.

“We are certainly concerned,” Thomas said. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the price of asphalt.”

Look no further than oil prices. Asphalt is 95 percent rocks and sand, but the remaining 5 percent is a petroleum-based tar that holds the mix together — sometimes with polymers to provide extra stability.

The tar and the added polymer are created with crude oil, which spiked to $147 a barrel Friday — more than double its $72 price tag in July 2007. The price settled at $134.60 Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The cost of the project, which will be paid for through previously-appropriated state GRIP 2 funds, was estimated at $2.5 million by Thomas. If the bids come back significantly higher, Thomas said the city may have to re-evaluate terms of the bid, or “we may have to look at another alternative to try to cut the cost.”

Thomas said it’s not a surprise the resurfacing work done two years ago on Prince Street is showing signs of failure.

“The work that was done most recently was only intended to make the roadway usable for a couple of years,” Thomas said. “Basically, we’re seeing what we expected with the traffic load … (in excess of) 30,000 vehicles per day.”

Thomas said if a bid is accepted, he would take it to the city commission in early August and aim for a Sept. 1 start date. The work would be done over 120 working days — about five or six months — with the intent to keep at least a northbound and southbound lane open at all times.

“Because of the location of this one,” Thomas said, “We would hope the contractor would make every effort to complete it as quickly as possible, even possibly working at night.”