Utah drivers might have to start driving on rocky roads.

Utah Department of Transportation Executive Director John Njord said there is not enough money to go around to keep minor state roads smooth.

"We are not going to be able to continue on the path of good roads in the future," Njord told the Legislature's Transportation Interim Committee on Wednesday.

As oil prices skyrocket, the prices for petroleum-based products such as asphalt and polymer road overlays are going up as well.

And that will have an impact on maintenance work and new construction projects on state roads.

Jim McMinimee, director of project development for UDOT, predicted that completion of 10 percent to 15 percent of its projects may be in jeopardy if the cost for asphalt products continues to increase.

In Utah, 97 percent of roadway surfaces are asphalt-based, but McMinimee said if prices continue to rise, UDOT in coming years may consider alternatives such as concrete.

UDOT is considering several other alternatives as well.

In order to cut costs, UDOT officials are ditching a proactive approach to maintaining smaller roadways to a more reactive approach, Njord said. So now, instead of repaving those roads on a regular basis, "filling potholes and sealing cracks, that's about all we'll be able to do on those lower-level roads."

Njord said his budget needs to double "to maintain the status quo." He's running with a $200 million budget now.

"We're trying to squeeze and stretch the collars that we currently have as far as we possibly can," Njord said.


E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com