Residents have complaints about mushy gravel road, public works says it will harden

Last fall, the Cascade County road division regraveled 3.5 miles of road in the northwest area.

It was part of 55.61 miles of work on gravel roads countywide, or $1.2 million worth of improvements in 2017.

But, some residents weren’t happy and came to share their frustrations during Tuesday’s Cascade County Commission meeting.

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Buck Pandis said 5th Avenue Northwest was good until it started raining and the material turned to mush.

He said the material has ruined his driveway and that he called the road division eight times without a returned call until he called the commission office.

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“What they put on there is not material for roads,” Pandis said. “It’s a mess.”

During the meeting, Commissioner Jane Weber thanked Pandis and several others for alerting the commission to the issue and said they’d look into it.

Brian Clifton, county public works director, told The Electric that the road was regraveled last fall with a higher plasticity index, meaning there’s more binding material such as clay.

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He said during the first few wet weather events, the material will get creamy, but will then harden like concrete.

The mush and ruts described by Pandis and others is “not uncommon with the type of gravel we use,” Clifton said.

Clifton said the holes and ruts will flatten out by traffic, but the county will also go back and flatten it out.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the binding material allows for a smooth driving surface though it may rut in wet weather.

The county road division regraveled 3.5 miles of northwest streets in 2017 for a total cost of $81,372, according to the Public Works Department Annual Report.

Those roads included 24th, 26th, 27th, 31st Streets Northwest and 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Avenues Northwest.

Overall, the county regraveled 55.61 miles of road in 2017 for a total cost of $1.2 million.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Ron Litostansky echoed the complaint about 5th Avenue Northwest, but also discussed the need to clean out culverts in the area to help with drainage.

Commissioner Jim Larson said he talked to the road department about it and they’ve been working on clearing out culverts but there’s more work to do

Lithostansky said the buildup of PI material is causing drainage problems in the culverts.

Marlowe Rames said he has lived on 5th Avenue Northwest for 27 years and though he’s noticed some recent activity in the area, “we would appreciate some help.”