Routt County will spend more to inhibit dusty roads in persistent drought

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At a glance

Additions to Routt County's magnesium chloride treatment list:

Routt County Road 70: Morgan Bottom east of Hayden.

C.R. 53: Hayden Divide south to Williams Fork River.

C.R. 46: West of Elk River Road in the vicinity of Rattlesnake Butte.

C.R. 18A: Road accesses south boat launch at Stagecoach Reservoir and Morrison Creek water treatment facility.

C.R. 206: Half Elk River Estates neighborhood that has not previously been treated.

C.R. 16: Lynx Pass and Morrison Creek in front of Black Horse I&II, Overland and Sky Hitch subdivisions.

C.R. 132: Dunckley Pass scenic byway, which attracts visitors on the way to Trappers Lake.

C.R. 129: Little Snake north of Columbine.

— Another season of drought, dust and washboards lies ahead for residents along some unpaved Routt County roads, but the Routt County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to spend an additional $43,000 on liquid magnesium chloride to extend the dust-inhibiting treatment to portions of eight more roads.

Commissioner Steve Ivancie observed that having unpaved roads sealed with magnesium chloride this summer could be one of the most tangible benefits rural residents will see from county government.

“I’m inclined to bite the bullet and go ahead,” Ivancie said. “It’s money well spent, and it’s what they deserve. In addition to freeing up the crews, it’s preventive maintenance.”

The commissioners reasoned that in addition to making daily life more pleasant for residents along unpaved county roads, the extra funds would be offset by savings in other areas.

In addition to damping down dust, the magnesium chloride also greatly reduces damage to unpaved roads by reducing formation of bumpy potholes and washboards.

Routt County Road and Bridge field coordinator Tammie Crawford said expanding the use of magnesium chloride would reduce frequent trips county crews make with water trucks and road graders to blade the washboards and free up those crews to accomplish other pressing tasks.

Road and Bridge Director Janet Hruby told the commissioners that if she can free up crews to do other work, one of the highest priorities would be doing maintenance on aging bridges to keep them within state standards.

Commissioner Doug Monger said that he might not have looked favorably on the increased expenditures when budgets were tighter in 2011, but he said he would consider taking Hruby’s offer to find room elsewhere in her budget, possibly by reducing the extent of chip-and-seal asphalt treatment on other roads by a few miles, to allow for the increased magnesium chloride treatments.

Crawford said the county will spend more to prepare the roads for the magnesium chloride treatment than it will on the chemical.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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