Letting the dust settle

Garry Looslie says the increase in vehicles using Southwest Kirk Avenue in Pendleton is throwing up a significant amount of dust during high traffic times.

Ever since the city of Pendleton started its project to replace Quinney Bridge early this year, parents taking their children to McKay?Elementary School have used an alternate route.

That route - Southwest Kirk Avenue - was little more than a dirt road before the city put down gravel in anticipation of increased traffic.

However, residents who live along the road say dozens of cars turn the road into one big dust cloud every morning around 8 a.m. and every afternoon around 2:30 p.m, when parents drop their kids off at McKay and pick them up.

"The dust, it just hangs here until 8:30, 9 o'clock," said Kirk Avenue resident?Garry Looslie, who was critical of the city's decision to add gravel to the road owned by the county.

Looslie said the neighborhood usually collaborates to get the road oiled at least once a year at a cost of around $80 to $100.

Though he claims his house is "airtight," Looslie said dust still manages to find its way inside, affecting the health of his wife, Lela.

"It's maddening. The city won't do a thing about it," Looslie said. "I called the city, the guy in charge of the roads, Bob Patterson.?The first time I called him, all I got out of him was excuses."

While some of Looslie's neighbors are equally fired up, Patterson, the city's public works director, said he is the only one that has contacted the city. Patterson said the city relies on Tim Simons, whose son attends McKay, for updates on the road.

"We've conveyed that this alternative route will continue to have a high-traffic load for the McKay Creek pickup and dropoff,"?Patterson said. "A large part of the dust issue the neighborhood is seeing is people who are behind schedule or don't care to drive 25 miles an hour. School's out in a few weeks and we truly believe that traffic will return to a normal level."

City Manager Larry Lehman is sympathetic to those who are affected by the increased traffic along the alternative route.

"I have not directly heard any complaints," Lehman said, "but I realize what they're saying; it is dusty."

Safety through the neighborhood is another factor that concerns Looslie. He said he converses with police patrols regularly, encouraging them to issue tickets to speeders. 

Patterson told Looslie the city does dust control as weather permits. Work crews applied an initial layer of oil in December, again in March when the gravel was put in and should be back out on Southwest Kirk?Avenue on Wednesday morning around 9 a.m.

Each application of dust control costs the city between $1,200 and $2,000.

"Quinney Bridge will be done (in August)," Patterson said, "and once it's done we will gate off the alternative route and it will only be used for special events and emergencies."


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