Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Madison's air has high levels of particle pollution

Findorff construction site next to Kohl Center, 6/3/11.

The American Lung Association said the Madison area is one of the worst places in the country for particle pollution in the air, according to a new study.

Construction sites are a major source of dust in the air.  When vehicles leave construction sites, they lay a track of mud that lasts for miles.  The mud turns to road dust--soon becoming air pollution.

Defense against dust--gravel pads

Many contractors do not have the required 50' pads of 3"washed gravel at construction entrances.  The gravel keeps the tires out of the mud.

Another function of pads--due to the 3" chunks of gravel--is to shake the mud off the tires.  But many contractors rely on existing pavement--for example a parking lot next to the construction site--as a substitute for a gravel pad.  But the smooth pavement doesn't provide the necessary shaking of the required gravel pad.

Last year, Contractor Report visited many construction sites, and found that the majority had deficient pads.  Many pads were too short or covered with mud--and many sites had no pads at all.  

Some contractors like Speedway Sand and Gravel (at Edgewood Av in 2010) began work before the pads were installed.  Another example was 2010 construction on the Hillcrest-Upland Greenway.

This spring, the percent of construction sites with adequate pads has increased, thanks to better inspection by the City.  Nevertheless, I've found deficient pads at Findorff Construction sites in Monona and Madison.

At best, gravel pads only reduce tracking.  This site (right) had a good pad, but still it didn't prevent muddy tracks.

If Madison wants clean lakes and clean air, we have to begin tire washing.

Water tight trucks

Another cause of dust from construction sites is loading wet soil into dump trucks that leave the site.  Trucks carrying mud are supposed to be water tight.

Last summer, I tracked a truck dribbling mud for six miles from construction on University Avenue.  This spring, I observed muddy dribbles leaving the Miron Construction site on the UW campus (Lakeshore Residence).

Work for a healthy community--
Follow rules to avoid tracking mud

Some contractors who ignore regulations on gravel pads
Findorff Construction at sites in Madison Madison Monona

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