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Settling the dust: County revisits treatment of gravel roads

Gravel Road, Superior Highlands
Gravel Road, Superior Highlands

During a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Aug. 8, members of the highway department staff said a number of complaints have been voiced by concerned citizens regarding excessive dust on local roadways.

Cook County Highway Department Accountant Lisa Sorlie said a number of phone calls have been placed to her office during the past week regarding too much dust rising from traffic on gravel roads.

It’s worth noting that the County Board opted to slash funding for calcium chloride on local roadways in 2017 as a means of reducing the overall levy. In other words, the county opted to not treat its local roadways with a treatment that reduces dust on gravel roads, as a means of lowering local property taxes. The cost-cutting measure was a direct response to local citizens who said property taxes were increasing by too much.

In addition to concerns being addressed to the Highway Department, County Commissioner Myron Bursheim says he too has been hearing from local residents about too much dust on local roadways this summer.

The county’s budget committee made a recommendation of reapplying calcium chloride to local roadways in 2018, at a projected cost of $150,000.

Before the county board commits to funding calcium chloride in 2018, Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk said the board needs to clarify if calcium chloride was removed from the budget and local roadways as a cost-cutting measure or as a means of protecting the environment.

The County Board will continue to discuss the option of applying calcium chloride in the coming months as it works to set the overall budget and levy for 2018.

Overall, the Highway Department’s impact on the levy this year could be an increase of $270,000.