Type of Meeting:
Name of requestor: Marc Engemoen 498-5741, Dale Miller 498-5653, Matt Johnson 498-5724
Department: Public Works Division, Road & Bridge/Engineering Departments
Preferred appearance date: 3/20/2012 Time required: 15 min.
Date decision needed: 3/20/2012
Objective: Approving the use of magnesium chloride for road maintenance on a limited number of Public Improvement District (PID) roads
Situation: As discussed at the Admin Matters meeting on March 6, the citizen representatives for several public improvement districts (PIDs) have asked to be allowed to resume using magnesium chloride (MgCl) on their non-paved roads. The Board of County Commissioners had directed staff to stop using MgCl for road maintenance a number of years ago after a study conducted for the County by Colorado State University concluded that using MgCl for road maintenance can damage or kill vegetation adjacent to the roadway. Knowing that MgCl can damage or kill vegetation, the representatives for these PIDs have also found that alternative chemicals for treatment are more expensive and less effective than MgCl. This experience about the cost and effectiveness of MgCl is consistent with the County Road & Department's experience on other county roads.
Proposal: The Board of County Commissioners has several options, including but not limited to:
(1) Continue to ban the use of MgCl for maintenance of county roads, including road in PIDs
(2) Allow the use of MgCl for maintenance of PID roads at the request of the representatives of the PIDs, with concurrence of the County R&B Director
(3) Allow the use of MgCl for maintenance of PID roads, but only after a process of informing residents of the effects of the chemical and/or obtaining some level of approval (such as a simple majority) from those residents.
Advantages: Magnesium chloride is less costly and more effective in maintaining non-paved roads than other alternatives. Roads can be evaluated to identify situations which represent less threat to roadside vegetation. Guidelines can be developed for the use of MgCl to try to obtain the benefits of using the material while also minimizing the negative impacts to roadside vegetation.
Disadvantages: Magnesium chloride can damage and kill roadside vegetation. Magnesium chloride is widely used in road maintenance in other parts of Larimer County and the nation. Magnesium chloride sprayed on roads for snow and ice maintenance does get into ground and surface waters. There have been no findings of adverse impacts to humans as a result of the use of MgCl for road maintenance, but there is a perception on the part of some citizens that MgCl represents a threat to life.
Requested action: Staff is requesting that the County Commissioners provide direction on the use of magnesium chloride for road maintenance in public improvement districts. There are a number of options open to the Commissioners, including those described above.
Potentially Affected Interest: Three PIDs have asked about the possibility of resuming the use of Magnesium Chloride for maintenance of their roads. Those three PIDs are Estes Park Estates, Pinewood Springs, and Little Valley.
Level of Public Interest and Participations: Public response to the discussion at Admin Matters on March 6 has been very limited. Several citizens have expressed concern about resuming the use of MgCl, but these citizens have not been residents of the PIDs making the request.