County Road in Telluride Maintenance Begins
As the snow melts, travelers should be careful because it creates hazardous situations.
Gravel roads in the county will be treated for dust control beginning in May,
(Planet file photo)
As roads begin to dry out in the winter thaw, some roads will become muddy, making roads rough for travel before the San Miguel County Road & Bridge Department begins regular maintenance for the season.
San Miguel County Road Director Ryan Righetti said crews are “pushing back the snow so it’s not melting on the road surface,” but cautioned drivers to be aware of current road conditions when traveling.
“We’re going to have a lot of snowmelt and pretty bad road conditions, and we won’t be able to fix the roads until they dry out,” Righetti said.
The timeline for getting the roads ready for summer is going to be weather dependent, but he said they expect to begin in May. The road and bridge department hopes to have its road maintenance schedule finalized and published online in the coming weeks, via its website and its Facebook page, so drivers can tentatively know when and where crews will be treating and grading the roads.
Current air quality conditions in the region are rated as good by the EPA, and in San Miguel County, the roads will be treated with water mixtures to help keep the dust particulates under control as more people begin to travel again this spring and summer.
Righetti said in the west end of the county, from the Norwood area and out to the Utah state line, a treatment called RoadSaver will be applied on the gravel. Righetti provided a brochure about RoadSaver and a safety data sheet about its active ingredient, magnesium chloride.
“Used as a dust control and soil stabilization solution, it is one of our most popular and affordable options,” the RoadSaver brochure reads. “Magnesium chloride is a hygroscopic mixture that attracts moisture from the air and resists evaporation.”
The RoadSaver mixture is about 75 percent water.
A separate mixture for treating the roads, called DMC Blend, will be applied to the roads from Specie Mesa through Telluride. Both RoadSaver and DMC Blend are rated as environmentally friendly, with no known hazards to health, Righetti said.
Unlike the RoadSaver mixture, the DMC Blend contains lignosulfonates, a type of resin collected as a byproduct of tree pulping. Lignosulfonates are used in some products as alternatives to petroleum-based ingredients.
The treatments San Miguel County Road & Bridge Department apply made with lignosulfonates help add to the compressive strength of the gravel road surfaces and can be reinforced over time by adding more water to “rejuvenate” the roads, Righetti said.
“If it wasn’t used, the road surface would fall apart quicker, you would get more washboarding, more potholes, less road base material, and the ride would be a lost rougher and it would be a lot dustier,” Righetti said.
Essentially, tree resin is holding the roads together.
“You would definitely notice a difference if we didn’t use it,” he said.
What San Miguel County does not use, and has never used for dust control on the roads, is water from fracking, which Righetti calls “fossil waters.”
“Some counties in Colorado have experimented with it, but San Miguel County never did,” he said.
“When we started looking into it and asking for the safety data sheets and information, they couldn't provide it, so it wasn’t even a consideration. We do not allow this product to be used on any road in our county road system.”
Desert Mountain Corporation will provide both RoadSaver and DMC Blend to the county for its road maintenance. Righetti said they hope to be completed with the annual treatments between May and June, and then only have to reapply water after that.
At the March 29 San Miguel Board of County Commissioners meeting, a contract was approved for a Dolores-based independent contractor, Smith’s Materials LLC, for gravel crushing at the Norwood and Pathfinder gravel pits.
“The gravel is used to replace the road we have lost from wear and tear,” Righetti said. “Ninety-nine percent of what we do is maintain what we have in our existing roads.”
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Via Telluride News by Ashley Bunton Associate Editor