Roll up the pavement: Gravel is making a comeback

Ever since the invention of the automobile, paved roads have meant progress. Now some cash-strapped towns and counties are finding progress too expensive, and they are tearing up battered roads and putting down gravel.

The high price of pavement and the sour economy have driven municipalities in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Vermont to roll up the asphalt – a mile here, a few miles there, mostly on back roads – rather than repave. The idea of turning a beat-up road into gravel isn’t totally new. But with tax revenue plunging off a cliff because of the economy and asphalt prices doubling over the past three years to $400 a ton, rural towns are increasingly looking at gravel.

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