Md. needs to build roads that will last

The governor's transportation plan is an historic investment in Maryland's future.

Regarding your recent report on Gov. Larry Hogan's road construction projects, the concrete industry is in total support of this long-awaited funding and dedication to spending some real dollars on transportation ("Hogan shifts money to roads, but not everyone's a winner," July 18).

This is truly an historic investment in Maryland's economy, quality of life and future. It is our position that this historic investment be made prudently and with the long term in mind and not just a series of short-term fixes that only look like progress on the surface.

We have typically spent most of our funding over the past few decades on resurfacing our existing roads with thin lift, expecting to "preserve" the system. This may work in some areas but not on every road. The reality is that we spend ever increasing tax dollars trying to maintain the same number of roads, and we are losing ground. Regardless of the pavement surface, we want to see roads designed and built to last generations and not political cycles.

Maryland should practice an alternate design/alternate bid method, where multiple equivalent pavement designs would be created with the same life expectancy; and the lowest engineers' estimate and fair market price solution would be chosen. This can be done at minimal cost to the state. West Virginia currently performed alternate design/alternate bid on just a few highway projects and they saved nearly $18 million.

States with smaller budgets see more use of multiple paving materials because they have to stretch their limited funds farther. Maryland has one of the most expensive road systems, yet one that still needs tremendous funding just to preserve it. Why don't we invest in our roads to improve them and make them last longer?

We seek more resilient construction for Maryland's roads. We want to see fair opportunities to bid all road projects with long-term costs in mind, both fiscally and environmentally. We believe in getting the best long-term value for our tax dollars. Our present day choices will last for generations and will either be a lasting infrastructure, or mounting tax bills. The difference lies in how we choose to build today.

Thomas Evans, Frederick

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Ready Mix Concrete Association.

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