Asphalt was once the dominant product in many communities, but in recent years it has lost its grip over the landscape.
The drought in the United States and the global economic crisis have pushed the cost of asphalt up, with a steep decline in the price of asphalt since the middle of 2017.
In California, where the cost has risen by 30% since 2018, as much as 75% of new asphalt is now imported.
“The only way you can make asphalt is to import it,” said Kevin M. Lebron, president of Lebrons Associates, a leading asphalt producer in the U.S.A. “If you import it, you can’t sell it.”
The impact on the industry is clear.
According to the ASHREA, a nonprofit trade group, asphalt imports from Mexico have dropped nearly 90% since January, when the Mexican government cut off access to the U to the country’s main source of asphalt.
The drop in demand has left the U’s domestic market for asphalt even more exposed, as well as its main supplier, which is Mexico’s largest export-based asphalt producer.
“Mexico has the worst asphalt,” said Michael P. Naylor, a professor of economics at the University of Virginia.
“They are trying to find some other way to export asphalt, which they are going to be very successful at.”
Asphalt is not the only major component in the construction industry that has been impacted by the drought.
In the first half of 2019, construction companies in California and the Gulf Coast states reported a drop in orders for construction equipment, with the biggest declines in California, Texas, and Louisiana.
The impact has been particularly pronounced in areas of the Gulf coast where construction workers are most exposed to the harsh weather.
“In the Gulf of Mexico, we’ve been seeing this erosion of sand dunes and erosion of the levees,” said Mike Schramm, a regional coordinator for the United Association of Gulf Coast Landscapers.
“These sand dune erosion events have led to erosion of roads, bridges, and other structures.
These are major sources of the energy needed to keep the economy going in the Gulf.”
The cost of these dunes has pushed up construction costs in areas where the dunes are located.
In Texas, where sand dikes have reduced the amount of land accessible to the desert, construction of new roads and bridges has become more difficult, said Steve Littles, a project manager for the Texas Association of Contractors, which represents more than 200,000 members.
“You’re going to see more and more of these levees that are being built that are going down into the sand ditches,” Litts said.
The cost to the economy of the U itself is also increasing.
The United States, the world’s largest oil producer, is losing about $1 trillion a year from the sale of asphalt, according to the Energy Information Administration, a government agency that tracks oil and natural gas prices.
In 2017, the price for asphalt in the New York area rose about $6 a gallon to $23.80 per gallon.
That was the highest in more than a decade.
The price of cement in the same period rose nearly $7 a gallon.
By 2023, the ASHA says, the average price of an American home will have increased by more than 50% to about $110,000.
That’s a big price hike for those living in areas that rely heavily on asphalt.