County's dust cost increases

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The county's cost of minimizing road dust is almost 18 percent more than what was budgeted.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday awarded the job of applying magnesium chloride to 166 miles of county roads to low-bidder EnviroTech. The cost is about 29.4 cents per gallon of the chemical, compared with last year's price of 25 cents per gallon.

The liquid salt solution, the same used in the winter to de-ice roads, is applied after roads have dried in the spring to keep dust to a minimum. One application of the chemical lasts the entire summer.

The county had budgeted $173,000 for the spraying this year, Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

Instead, the total cost to the county will be about $200,000, said Tammie Crawford, field coordinator for Routt County's Road and Bridge Department.

County commissioners in--structed the Road and Bridge Department to make cuts in other areas to keep the department's overall budget on track.

The county also does grading and other prep work before the chemical is applied. As fuel prices have increased, so have the costs of all those services, Monger said.

The county decided to treat roads that have been treated historically, County Commissioner Dan Ellison said.

"If you quit (applying) magnesium chloride where you've already started it, people tend to get upset," he said.

Monger said the county commissioners have been "pretty diligent" not to add to the list of roads they are required to treat. State regulations say dust mitigation must be used on roads that see more than 200 cars a day. Too much dust can create air quality problems.

"All of our roads are virtually getting more traffic than they were before," Ellison said.

The county treats only a portion of all of its public roads.

Private residents who live along a county road or public right-of-way that is not treated can request treatment. However, the residents have to pay a fee for the treatment and preparation work, Crawford said.

It's too late for residents on public roads to get their roads sprayed this summer, she said. The county will not treat private roads, Crawford said.

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