The leader of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is being accused of favoring asphalt over concrete.
In 2009, Jerry Wray rescinded an ODOT order requiring asphalt-paving contractors to factor in future asphalt prices over the span of the road project. Currently, road builders can use the current market price without the risk of covering any cost overruns, which are passed along to taxpayers. If the price of asphalt falls during the road project, the contractor is required to reimburse the state.
Gregory Colvin, president of the Ohio Ready Mixed Concrete Association, thinks the practice is unfair, going as far as to say that it “all but eliminates concrete from the bidding process.”
“The result of Director Wray’s decision to favor his former colleagues in the asphalt industry by giving them a taxpayer-supported subsidy when they are bidding head to head against goes against the recommendations of the Federal Highway Administration, it defies common sense, and given Director Wray’s background as the chief asphalt lobbyist it reeks of political cronyism as it’s worst,” Colvin said in a letter to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
After a stint as ODOT chief under Gov. George Voinovich, Wray did represent the Flexible Pavements of Ohio, but calls Colvin’s remarks “insulting and absolute nonsense.” Wray also said 39 states follow a similar practice, which keeps the cost of road projects down.