The lack of rainfall this summer has exacerbated the dust and washboard effect on Flathead County’s 500 miles of gravel roads, prompting road officials to remind motorists to slow down.
“People need to be considerate of others when they drive the county gravel roads,” Flathead County Road and Bridge Supervisor Ovila Byrd said. “This time of year when we haven’t had any rain for weeks, the county roads become very dry and susceptible to washboarding. Please be mindful of those living on the road so you don’t dust them out.”
Byrd said the road department is getting calls every day with complaints of excessive road dust and washboarding, from one end of the valley to the other.
“With the fire danger at the level it is we cannot risk running our maintainers for risk of causing fires,” Byrd noted.
The county will grade roads in areas where residents have hired a private company to apply dust abatement, he said, but noted if the county grades a section of road and the private company doesn’t apply dust control right away, the road can develop washboarding in a short amount of time.
“It’s a tough thing to monitor, yet we have to monitor the roads,” Byrd said. “We like to blade with our own water and when humidity is higher. Putting water with gravel allows it to bind. Moisture is the key to road maintenance, period.”