Getting Down with Dust Suppression

People who don’t venture beyond the city limits may not see why dust control is such a big deal, but it makes all the difference for those who drive our gravel roads. And it’s not just for driver comfort, either. It also enhances safety, reduces maintenance costs and maintains the quality of life for rural residents by keeping the dust down in rural communities.

Dust is a pretty big deal. When a gravel road becomes dusty, it starts to lose the fine, hard-packed earth that makes the road easy to drive. This fine material is the ‘glue’ that helps bond the road together. If that happens, the larger rocks and gravel that provide the strength for the road base will soon follow, which can make way for potholes and washboards.

To reduce the chances of that happening, once a year we use salt-based products called calcium chloride or magnesium chloride. The salt is hygroscopic, which means it can pull moisture from the air and hold on to it. This helps to keep things moist, but when it gets too hot and dry, we still need to spray water on the road surface to keep the dust down and get the most out of the calcium chloride.

There are more than 19,000 km of dirt and gravel roads that we look after, and to do that effectively, we need to prioritize. So the routes that see the most traffic will be done first. With regular treatments we can keep these roads in better condition and reduce maintenance costs. And that’s not all. Dust suppression provides other benefits that aren’t as obvious but just as important. For example, it reduces environmental impacts on the surrounding environment by preventing excessive build-ups of dirt on vegetation and in our waterways.

And, if you’ve never driven any of the province’s gravel roads before, it’s a great way to see the province.

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18 Responses to Getting Down with Dust Suppression

  1. Catherine Hickson on September 6, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Is it possible to request that a road be done a second time in a year? I live on Sweden Creek Road in Prince George, and would like to request that Silver Road have the calcium applied again. This road is right across the highway from my home and has very heavy traffic, so it is producing a lot of dust which tends to float through the air over to my home.

    • tranbceditor on September 9, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Hi Catherine – we’ve sent your request to our local area staff in the Fort George office. Stay tuned.

    • tranbceditor on September 11, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Hello Catherine,

      We have heard back from our staff in the area and they informed us that the dust suppression application has been re-activated with recent rains and when they travelled the area, they did not feel any further applications were required. If you still feel that this is an issue, please let us know and we will follow up with your request. Safe travels.

  2. Maureen Feeney on June 17, 2019 at 8:23 am

    I live outside of Rossland BC is there anyone who can spray for dust control

  3. Alain Rioux on June 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    I live on Blackwater road north of Pemberton BC in area c. This has been my home for the last 12 years. Birkenhead lake provincial park is at the end of the road. There used to be some dust suppressant applied here and there on the road before the park, but not anymore. The park itself is suppressed. The dust last year was the worst yet.The issue is the increased popularity of the park and the vehicle traffic associated with that. On the weekends it is not uncommon to have a car pass by my home every 2-3 minutes. Sometimes more. As well the last couple of years there has been and there presently is active logging in the valley. The valley we are in is steep and narrow and the prevailing winds start at lake and blow down the valley by all of our homes. Walking on the road is unbearable at times. There is a constant haze throughout the valley when the air is still and the fire bans are in place. We are aware that acquiring silicosis is a real possibility. Please help our community. Thank you.

    • tranbceditor on June 12, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Hi Alain,

      We have sent your question forward to our local area manager for review. Stay tuned for a reply.

    • tranbceditor on June 15, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Alain,

      It seems that your home is on the border of our service areas. Could you please help us determine which maintenance contractor to contact, by providing your address? i.e. House number on Blackwater Road

      Thanks!

    • tranbceditor on June 20, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      Hello Alain,

      We spoke with our local area manager, who directed us to the resource road manager for this region concerning your request. He indicated that in past years they have done sections of Blackwater Creek Forest Service Road, specifically areas around rural residences. Unfortunately, they are unable to provide this service any longer due to limited funding. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact the Sea to Sky Natural Resource District office:

      Office:
      604 898-2100
      Email:
      FLNRO.SeaToSkyDistrict@gov.bc.ca

  4. Mike on May 27, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for the article.

    I live in the Spider Lake Area on Vancouver Island Nanaimo District. The last 1 km or so of the road to spider lake park is unpaved and very dusty mainly from the local vehicle traffic and large trucks (up to 18 wheels per truck) coming through. These dust clouds settle in the lake and in the park where it is quite unpleasant. There is many families with young children including my own who frequent the park. Who do you suggest I contact regarding a solution such as the one above.

    Thanks

    • tranbceditor on May 28, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      Hi Mike,

      This road may be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Forests, but we suggest you connect with our local area office to confirm.

      3rd floor – 2100 Labieux Rd.
      Nanaimo, BC V9T 6E9
      250 751-3246

      Hours of operation:
      8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday

  5. Bamidele Hamid on August 26, 2014 at 2:26 am

    Please how can i get tonnes of magnesium chloride and calsiulm chloride in Nigeria

    • tranbceditor on August 26, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Hello there! Sorry but we have no idea how you could arrange for this. Perhaps start with local government?

  6. John Scott on July 29, 2014 at 8:55 am

    This is an information request from out of province. i live in NW Ontario in Rainy River. Our street was dug up last year to replace water main, and has still not been repaved due to legitimate causes. I asked the town if they could put calcium chloride on the street in the meantime, but they said since it was due to be repaved this summer (with asphalt)this was not a good idea. Does the hygrpscopic nature of calcium chloride draw moisture into the road bed perhaps leading to freezing issues on the newly paved road?? We do get very cold winter temperatures, and the concern would seem to make sense …but I see calcium chloride used as an accelerant for drying concrete which yu think would promote the same problem leading to spawling at least. Thanks for any help yu can give to a puzzled (and duty) neighbour on the other side of the prairies.

    • tranbceditor on July 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Hi John,
      We asked our Highway Maintenance manager and she agreed that applying calcium chloride on a road about to be paved is not recommended. It’s correct that the hygroscopic nature of the product draws moisture. The issue is that it creates a soft road subgrade. I hope that helps.

      • John Scott on July 30, 2014 at 9:23 pm

        thanks so much for yur prompt reply: i can go back to fully trusting our town crew.Much nicer feeling lol

  7. trent farrell on July 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I live on Pratt road in Gibsons.Currently there is a water main reconstruction in progress by the SCRD.The shoulders of the road are being dug up and a new main being installed.There is no dust suppression.I find it has come to be bothersome.My house is inundated with dust and grime.I feel this is personally and environmentally sensitive.For the past week my eyes are weeping and my nose is running.In an email to our elected rep.,Lorne Lewis,he told me there will be no dust suppression.What can be done?I believe they discounted this issue and now will not talk about it.Thank you,Trent Farrell

    • tranbceditor on July 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

      Hi Trent,

      We have directed your issue to the Sunshine Coast Regional District and they will be in contact with you to discuss.

      Thanks!

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