Supply chain issues could impact Vernon’s road maintenance plans

According to Vernon Mayor Howard Burrell the price of asphalt recently went from $77 per ton to $82 per ton, and could increase on a bi-monthly basis.

| 31 May 2022 | 09:59

Vernon Township Mayor Howard Burrell on May 23 unveiled that the township has a five-year plan to pave and maintain the 103 miles of road for which it is responsible.

The township’s plan lists every road and street the town maintains, which consists of 33 miles of highly used arterials, plus 70 miles of roads and streets.

The arterials are paved with asphalt and the residential roads and streets are resurfaced with oil and stone, although that’s not Burrell’s preferred method of resurfacing. However, it costs six times more to surface a road or street with asphalt than it does with oil and stone.

“It’s a matter of the cost effective and efficient use of the tax dollars made available to us,” Burrell said.

About $2 million of the Dept. of Public Works’ budget is allocated for road maintenance and repairs and is limited by the escalating cost of materials.

Burrell said through the Sussex County Cooperative, the township started the year by purchasing asphalt for $77 per ton. The cost recently increased to $82 per ton and he said supply chain issues could result in prices increasing on a bi-monthly basis.

“I assure you that, given the factors and challenges that we face, we are doing the best that we can to maintain our roads and streets through the cost effective and efficient use of the tax dollars that Vernon’s residents and business make available to us,” Burrell said.

Three factors could change the paving resurfacing schedule. A road could be moved to a higher priority based on the township’s annual post-winter inspection, or residents’ reports of a specific road or street condition. An emergency condition could force a change in the plan. The lack of availability of materials could alter the plan as well.

“This has been proving to be a key negative factor in our road repair and maintenance plans over the past several months, as the availability of materials is impacted by labor shortages and supply chain limitations,” Burrell added.

Councilman Brian Lynch said he was happy the road plan was moving forward. “It’s been needed for quite some time now,” he said.