Rise in cost of materials, their accessibility hurdles for Clark County construction

The new roundabout being constructed at the intersection of Selma Pike and Possum Road near Shawnee Schools. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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The new roundabout being constructed at the intersection of Selma Pike and Possum Road near Shawnee Schools. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The Clark County Engineer’s Office has been navigating the impacts of the nation’s surging inflation — which has caused a cost spike in materials used for construction projects underway or upcoming — and a shortage in materials.

“It’s definitely provided an interesting twist to things,” Clark County Engineer John Burr said.

Material costs have soared since last year. Asphalt has risen from $70 per ton to more than $100 per ton, depending on the mix. The price of guardrail posts have nearly doubled, and gravel has also jumped 10% from last year. Even salt has risen to roughly $70 per ton, Burr said.

The national rise in gas prices over the past few months has also proven to be another hurdle for an office that used diesel trucks, Burr said.

“When you see some of the prices of these things, it’s shocking,” Burr said. “Across the board, everything has gone up.”

His office has also had trouble in gathering certain construction materials: pipes, for example. What once was an item that could be ready for pickup at any given time, Burr said, now can require a three-month wait.

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“Material availability sometimes affects our timelines,” Burr said. “You’re trying to minimize closures, minimize inconvenience. And sometimes you’re waiting on materials for months.”

Expected inflation is built into the cost estimation of any project, which is typically planned years in advance, but the current inflation rate “far exceeds” what was expected, Burr said.

Burr said his office is anticipating the Enon-Xenia Road stormwater project, which goes out to bid this year.

The project is aimed at installing left turn lanes as needed in support of the Greenon School, replace the deteriorating storm sewer system from Mud Run to Green Vista Drive, construct a shared use path from Hunter Road to Green Vista Drive, rehabilitate a bridge over Mud Run and resurface the roadway from the bridge to Dayton-Springfield Road. Roughly $2 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding was allocated in September 2021 to the project’s stormwater component.

What was a roughly $5 million project is now expected to be a roughly $7 million project, and Burr doesn’t expect that price to drop.

“We think we have inflation covered there: but some of these projects are a year long,” Burr said. “We’re bidding it this year, but what will next year’s asphalt prices be? What’s the availability of pipe? I don’t know. And that’s what the contractors will be looking at, too.”

Construction is underway on other Clark County projects. Late this spring, the engineer’s office started construction on the roundabout at the intersection of East Possum Road and Selma Pike, a project that was approved by the Clark County Commission in 2019 after the construction of Shawnee Elementary School.

The $1.3 million project is funded through Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) federal money. The project is expected to be finished before the school year begins in August, according to the engineer’s office.

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Another project to widen Middle Urbana Road by adding a left-turn lanes on Sierra Avenue, Tehan Court and the Kenton Ridge school entrance and to add a traffic signal at Montego Drive is also underway, with a $2.2 million bid awarded in February. The project is primarily funded through a Ohio Public Works Commission grant and local matches. A majority of construction is underway while students are out of school for summer break.

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Middle Urbana Road will be getting some improvements including turn lanes and a traffic light in front of the new Kenton Ridge school site. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Middle Urbana Road will be getting some improvements including turn lanes and a traffic light in front of the new Kenton Ridge school site. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Combined ShapeCaption
Middle Urbana Road will be getting some improvements including turn lanes and a traffic light in front of the new Kenton Ridge school site. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Construction projects coordinated by ODOT have not been canceled or directly impacted by rising inflation, according to ODOT press secretary Matt Bruning.

Bruning said the state’s transportation department keeps “close tabs” on costs and always factors inflation into its estimates for projects. However, ODOT is seeing costs of both materials and labor continue to climb with inflation.

Asphalt prices are up about 27% from January 2021 and 7% just since January 2022. Overall costs are up about 8% over the last three quarters of 2021, Bruning said.

ODOT has had some projects delayed due to supply chain issues. A bridge that was hit by a large truck in southern Ohio was scheduled to be repaired in early May, but those repairs were pushed back because the contractor had trouble getting the steel beam needed for the repair job, Bruning said.

ODOT has been coordinating the $48 million I-70 widening project, which is expected to finish out this year. This construction is creating three continuous lanes on I-70 westbound and eastbound between U.S. 68 and state Route 72.

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