Measuring the Effectiveness of Rural Dust Control Strategies

AUTC project number: 107019

PI(s):

David L. Barnes (UAF)

Funding:
  • US Department of Transportation (RITA)
  • Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities
  • Start Date: Aug 3, 2007
  • End Date: Aug 31, 2011

Project Summary

Dusty, unpaved roads and airports affect the quality of life for many villages in cold regions, in Alaska alone, roughly 60% of the roads are unpaved. Of the 4.2 million miles of road in the nation, 1.7 million are unpaved, so the rest of the U.S. faces dust problems too. Dust reduces visibility on the road. Dust can cause respiratory ailments, and it can affect the harvesting of berries and other plants for people who live off the land. In addition, loss of fine material reduces road surface quality, increasing maintenance costs as well as wear and tear on vehicles. Everybody acknowledges the problem, but finding a solution is a contentious matter. Simply paving is often unworkable, costs are high, local materials are often unsuitable, and long-term maintenance may be unavailable. Possibilities for dust control abound, but which will fit best with a subsistence lifestyle, and what can the state's thinly stretched budget afford? This project is developing a dust control research map that prioritizes critical areas. It is designing instrumentation and methodology to accurately monitor road dust production. These tools will be used to support ADOT&PF in field testing various dust control measures in several locations. So far, researchers for this project have qualitatively assessed dust control performance on unpaved runways, tested new instrumentation, and measured palliative performance with these prototype instruments at one rural road site.