All eyes are on asphalt prices this summer as highway and paving contractors vie for dwindling opportunities amid rising materials costs. Indexes for May, which show an overall upward trend for paving asphalt, diesel fuel and paint for highway striping, are a cause for concern for contractors who fear a repeat of the price-hike wallop of 2008. “Prices look relatively stable now, but it was the same in 2008 before they skyrocketed—and we never saw it coming,” says Richard E. Dinkela, owner of St. Louis-based Creve Coeur Paving LLC. “We’re trying to be more careful, to be educated on jobs
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.