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Fury Road: Concrete and Asphalt Reps Fight for Maryland’s Roads

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In July, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan pledged $2 billion in spending to help repair, maintain, and upgrade the state’s aging transportation infrastructure. The announcement was welcome news for many residents, as well as for the transportation industry and the construction companies who will bid on the projects. But now, representatives from concrete and asphalt trade groups have issued dueling letters in the Baltimore Sun, each arguing for the merits of their respective paving material.

For Thomas Evans, executive director of the Maryland Ready Mix Concrete Association, it’s only fair that concrete contractors be given the opportunity to make competitive bids for upcoming transportation projects. But for Brian Dolan, when it comes to the best paving material for Maryland roads, there’s a clear and obvious choice. Dolan is the president for the Maryland Asphalt Association, and we’ll give you one guess which material he prefers.

Evans argues that the state should use an alternate design bidding process, in which companies could submit bids for their paving material of choice. Hogan counters that this is simply more political maneuvering on the part of Big Concrete, writing:

“Mr. Evans is seeking greater use of these methodologies, which are many times mathematical justifications for political decisions, thereby awarding a larger portion of roadwork to the concrete industry. In reality the current [Maryland State Highway Administration] system allows engineers the opportunity to utilize their training and skills to best select proper pavement materials.”

Of course, to Dolan, the “proper” material is asphalt, naturally. Dolan adds that not only is asphalt “100% recyclable,” but that it’s also smoother and quieter compared to concrete.

In general, concrete lasts longer, while asphalt costs less. Nationwide, an estimated 94% of the country’s 2.6 million miles of paved roads are covered with asphalt. So, fortunately for the Ready Mix Concrete Association, Big Asphalt might have its work cut out for it in the battle for Maryland’s paving material of choice.

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