Local News

Gas prices' impact deeper for state roads, farmers

Posted May 2, 2008 5:46 p.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2008 10:08 a.m. EDT

— Rising fuel prices cost the state Department of Transportation about $20 million last year, and that number is expected to be higher this year, officials said Friday.

"Overall, it will have an impact on the amount of work we're able to do, due to those inflationary costs," DOT chief engineer Steve Varnedoe said.

Right now, gasoline is going for an average of about $3.61 in the Triangle, 67 cents higher compared with a year ago.

With higher fuel prices, people buy less gas. That means lower revenues from the gas tax, which means less funding.

Varnedoe said inflated construction costs, primarily for higher asphalt, concrete and steel, is also up 80 percent over the past five years.

But high gas prices are also having an impact on local farmers, who use fuel for farming purposes. who are being forced to cut production or quit as a result.

"Everybody that we sell to is impacted in the same way that we are," said local farmer John Vollmer. "And so, there's a limit to how you can raise prices."

Vollmer sends out strawberries from his Franklin County farm to a number of local counties, including Wake, Durham and Vance and said if gas prices don't improve, he might have to cut his deliveries.

"We have a lot of concern about what's going to happen in the future," Vollmer said.