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Paving will cost county more than expected

For McDuffie County leaders, paving roads this year has become a pain in the asphalt.

County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton announced during last Tuesday's meeting that the paving of Margarets Road and Fort Creek Road would cost the county a lot more than expected.

Both are partially funded by Georgia Department of Transportation's state aid. But what local officials didn't consider was that the contracts were set up last August, before hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and unrest in the Middle East drove up the price of oil and therefore asphalt.

"When we did it in August, I didn't realize that they locked you in on a price," Chairman Newton said. "I thought they'd pay us based on what they could get the work done for at the present time."

The county's first option was to cancel the contracts and try to renegotiate. That gamble could have resulted in the work not getting done at all.

"You'd have to go back through a bid process, and you don't know what the prices may be when you go back through that," Chairman Newton said. "So you're taking a risk on that going up."

The county decided to request an additional 20 percent from the DOT. According to Chairman Newton, there is a high probability that will happen. Even after that increase, though, McDuffie will be paying two thirds of the cost instead of the normal half.

That won't stop crews from moving forward with the work. Margarets Road is currently under construction, and Fort Creek Road is next. Chairman Newton said there wasn't much choice on how to handle the problem this year, but now he's learned his lesson.

"That was one of those things that was a learning experience for me," he said. "...When you were ready to go do the work, I thought that's when they figured the price and what they were going to reimburse you, but that's not the case. In the future, we're not going to go ask for a contract until we're ready to go."

The county almost had a similar situation occur on Clark-Reese Road that is under contract to be paved later. Chairman Newton said there was enough time available to cancel that contract and renegotiate while design work is being completed.

Web posted on Thursday, July 27, 2006

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