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When times get tough, say it with gravel. In several states, AP writer Clarke Canfield finds that asphalt roads are being replaced with that good old country favorite, crushed rock. “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,” Canfield wrote.

There are more than 1.4 million miles of unpaved roads. Especially in the North, these roads can deteriorate quickly with cold weather. Now that asphalt has gotten more expensive — and federal stimulus money has gone fro big road projects and bridges, not country byways — counties are turning lightly traveled roads back to gravel. Michigan has turned 50 miles of asphalt road into gravel, for example. (For more info, go to the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies at Penn State University.) 

Meanwhile, some folks like the idea of gravel roads — prefer them, in fact. “Do we really need to keep getting fancier? This is also about quality of life,” said Richard Beal, a selectman in the town of Cranberry Isles, Maine, population 118.

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