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Dust abatement program available

The Board of County Commissioners for Ravalli County has again approved a Dust Abatement Program for county residents living on county roadways, and for those on privately-operated roadways that occur within public easements.

The Dust Abatement Program, part of the county’s Gravel Road Management Program that was adopted in 2005, provides for a partnership between Ravalli County and private property owners. The county has again contracted with a private company to supply magnesium chloride dust abatement material which is applied by the Road & Bridge Department. Participants in the program pay only for the cost of the dust abatement material; the cost of preparing (grading) county-operated roadways and the application of the magnesium chloride material is paid through the Road & Bridge Department’s operating budgets.

In addition to being a nuisance, fugitive dust arising from gravel roadways can impact personal and environmental health, and can also contribute to the surface distress common to unpaved roadways during extended periods of warm, dry weather. Unpaved roadways are the largest source of particulate pollution in the United States, producing almost five times as much particulate matter as the next two largest sources combined. A single vehicle traveling on an unpaved roadway once per day for one year will produce one ton of fugitive dust per mile, which equates to losing one hundred tons of fine particles per year per mile of roadway with an average traffic volume of 100 vehicles per day. The dust abatement material applied through the program holds surface particles together, reducing the corrugation and loose aggregate that may otherwise occur.

Magnesium chloride is a naturally occurring element that is extracted from salt-water solutions such as seawater and acts by reducing the evaporation rate of moisture from the roadway surface and by attracting and retaining moisture from the atmosphere. Application of magnesium chloride increases the compacted density of the roadway’s surface materials and will typically retain its effectiveness after surface grading. Substantial analysis has been completed on magnesium chloride as a dust suppressant demonstrating that, when properly applied, it will not substantially impact natural environments. (Magnesium chloride is also a common food additive.) The Road & Bridge Department has adopted best management practices that provide guidance on the appropriate application of magnesium chloride on county roadways.

The cost to participate in the 2012 Dust Abatement Program will be approximately 26¢ per square yard of roadway surface, or $210.50 for each 300 foot by 24-foot segment of roadway which is the minimum (8OO square yards) allowed under the program.

The Road & Bridge Department will waive the $75.00 permit application fee for all program participants, and will waive the $165.00 per hour roadway preparation fee for those living on a county-operated roadway. Those living on privately operated roadways must provide for roadway preparation and grading in advance of the application.

Permit application along with payment is due by Monday, May 7.

Applications are scheduled to begin by the middle of May and be completed by the end of June, although applications are very weather-dependent.

Residents and property owners living along gravel roadways are encouraged to take advantage of this unique public-private partnership and help make their summers much more enjoyable by controlling the dust that arises from these roadways. Many neighborhoods have combined their resources to treat entire sections of roadway, which the Road & Bridge Department very much supports.

For further information on this program, contact the Ravalli County Road & Bridge Department at 244 Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton or at 363-2733.

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