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In 2009, state officials in Vermont responded to decaying pavement and a backlog of capital projects by essentially “unpaving” roads. Just over a mile of city streets in the state’s capital have been converted and most residents have welcomed the change, according to Thomas McArdle, Montpelier’s Public Works Director. The process involves grinding up existing pavement and combining it with the underlying gravel. The conversion is expected to save the city half of what it would have spent to maintain the paved roads over 20 years.
Declining gas tax revenues have caused other cities and counties to abandon plans to repair deteriorating roads. 70 such projects have converted approximately 550 miles in at least 27 states. A 2011 conversion project in rural Iowa was projected to save Allamakee County $95,000 per mile compared to a resurfacing project. Plans to unpave can be very politically unpopular, especially without proper communication with constituents.
Could similar conversions be a solution for some Colorado roads? Read more from Governing.