LINCOLN - As part of a long-term maintenance and cost-saving measure, the Alcona County Road Commission may start a brining program to prevent avoidable erosion of county's dirt and gravel roads.
The road commission applied a brine/calcium chloride mix to a stretch of Deerland Road in Curtis Township on Friday as a preliminary test, and while money is tight, Managing Director Jesse Campbell told the board of road commissioners on Wednesday that routine brining would make dirt and gravel roads safer, eliminate blading work and gravel loss, and save money in the long run.
"For every mile of road where a car is going 50 miles an hour, you lose seven pounds of dust. The dust is actually the binder for the road, and on the limestone it really erodes away. Sometimes you can lose up to an inch of binder out of your roads just from normal traffic. The brine actually stops the dust, but it keeps that brine locked in," he said. "Some of the roads are almost like asphalt after you do them for four or five years."
Campbell said brining is meant for gravel roads but could be applied to Alcona County's dirt roads with the right mixture. He estimated the cost at about $1,200 a mile and life expectancy at six to eight weeks; some counties do only two a year - one pass before Memorial Day and another just before Independence Day.
"My goal is to help some of the townships, instead of double-sealing the roads when we put the tar and chip down, is for them to add good gravel roads, because if we start losing road millages and we can't keep up with the sealcoating, we're going to be pulverizing roads back to gravel, and dust control will be an issue," he said. "So it's to try to get good gravel roads in areas where there's low traffic volume."
The board has yet to commit to Campbell's proposal, but if it does, it would bid for contractors to apply the brine and work with townships to decide which roads to have done.
In other business:
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.