LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Dust on Lancaster County roads is not a new problem, but a growing problem, with increased traffic and little rain.
That’s why Craig Johnson, who lives along an unpaved road on West Van Dorn Street, testified before the Lancaster County Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday.
He was there to ask the board of directors to reconsider a permit allowing the exploitation of the ground on a property near the 112th and Van Dorn.
Johnson said the soil mining operations, which initially lasted three years before the permit expired, brought several trucks on the road per day.
â€œThe proposed trucks create a lot of additional dust and safety issues on this road,â€ Johnson said.
The company holding the permit is High Plains Enterprises. Mark Smith of High Plains also spoke at the meeting.
He said they would only be active at the site while a nearby project is being built and if they have additional projects in southwest Lincoln in the future. He said on a busy day that they would use a total of 32 trucks per day, but are taking action to combat the dust.
â€œWhen we were running before, we watered in the morning when there was a lot of traffic with people going to work, and then we watered again at noon and at the end of the day,â€ Smith said.
But Smith said the watering only lasts so long and if they water too much it creates dangerous conditions.
He also said they had received complaints about the dirt on days when mining was not working. Smith said he believed some of the dust was actually coming from construction work nearby.
â€œOur job is not to remove dust from the pavement on the days that we are working, it is not even doable,â€ said Smith. â€œOur job is to compensate for the amount of dust that our trucks cause on this pavement. “
Johnson said the biggest problem was not the exploitation of the land or the permit, but the dust in general.
â€œThe permit only adds trucks to this dirt problem,â€ Johnson said.
Lancaster County Engineer Pam Dingman said Lancaster County has had a dust problem for years.
â€œLancaster County does not currently have a dust control program,â€ Dingman said. “But I told council we will need one if we continue not to pave our high volume rural roads.”
Dingman said drivers might notice the dust is particularly bad this year due to increased traffic and poor rainfall.
That’s why the county is testing a dust control measure on a stretch of 98th Street between Adams and Holdrege.
The county has applied magnesium chloride to this pavement. This packs up the dirt and makes the road very hard. This could make his maintenance difficult.
â€œWe’ll see how it goes,â€ Dingman said. â€œHow does it last all winter and if we have any issues with him moving forward.
A reporter from 10/11 NOW observed the drivers crossing the treated road and found that the truck traffic did not cause dust.
But it’s expensive, Dingman said. It cost $ 15,000 to apply the treatment to this stretch. It would cost about $ 60,000 to apply in the West Van Dorn area that neighbors are concerned about.
Dingman said the long-term solution to the problems of West Van Dorn and other roads across the county is paving them. It costs half a million dollars per mile, and although West Van Dorn is on the list for paving, there is no source of funding identified for the foreseeable future.
â€œIt’s probably going to be dusty for a while,â€ Dingman said.
Lancaster County Council will make a decision on the land use permit next Tuesday. Johnson just hopes this dust issue stays on their radar.
“Only time will tell,” he said.
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