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Gas Prices Could Effect Minnesota Road Repairs

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gas prices are continuing to climb with Minnesota prices 16 cents higher per gallon than they were just a month ago.

Our average price is $3.69 per gallon. And as hard as that is to handle, prices around the country are even higher. In California and a number of other states consumers are paying more than $4.

But your wallet is not the only thing being hurt by the higher prices — at least one Minnesota county is cutting back on road repairs.

Just outside of Faribault, it’s not hard to see the dividing line between the roads that have been resurfaced with a special sealant and the roads that haven’t.

Roads that have been resurfaced with a sealant will last five to 10 years longer because of the work that’s been done. Other parts of the road have not been resurfaced.

“There is a negative consequence to that, more and more water gets into the road,” Dennis Luebbe of the Rice County Highway Department said.

The result is so much deterioration — the road may have to be ripped up and partially reconstructed at a cost of $250,000 per mile.

The cost of resurfacing is just $14,000 a mile. But despite the obvious savings, Rice County has to slash its resurfacing plans because of the rising cost of the resurfacing material.

That material is more expensive because of rising oil prices.

“We are going to cut 20 percent out of our program this year,” Luebbe said.

And those rough roads exact a cost on cars.

“It’s a huge cost,” Luebbe said. “I’ve seen some studies where they estimate it’s $400 a year on maintenance costs due to road conditions. So that is a cost that is hidden.”

For Rice County residents, it’s a double hit, paying at the pump and knowing their cars will take a beating on unprotected roads.

“It’s pretty bad,” Joe Lenway said. “All the roads are pretty bad in Faribault, actually.”

Jackie Meyer agreed.

“It’s pretty round, it’s tougher on vehicles,” she said.

The resurfacing product is only used in rural areas. As for repairs in busier metro roads, our milder weather this winter gave us a huge break in the pothole department. This time last year, Hennepin County had 270 pothole complaints. This year it has only eight.

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