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Linn County to Count Cars on Dusty Road

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LINN COUNTY, Iowa - Linn County will count vehicles traveling along dusty Old River Road, county supervisors decided today in response to a resident's request. But it may not mean the county-funded dust control residents hope for.

The supervisors voted unanimously to conduct a traffic count requested by Mark Mentzer. County Engineer Steve Gannon is skeptical traffic will warrant the seal-coating Mentzer and his neighbors are hoping for.

"The (dust) levels we're being exposed to, it just can't go on anymore," Mentzer, of 5504 Old River Rd., said during the supervisors' Monday work session.

The Cedar Rapids city limit is well west of Mentzer's home, but the city maintained seal coating on the road to Cedar Bend Lane just east of Mentzer's while the city animal shelter was located there.

"What they chose to do was just go ahead and provide the dust control," said Gannon, although there was no formal agreement with the county.

After the animal shelter closed due to damage sustained in the June 2008 flood, the city stopped maintaining the seal-coat, Steve Gannon said. The county removed the seal coat as potholes developed and no one along the road stepped forward to maintain it. The county provides seal coating to rural residents who agree to maintain it in front of their property.

"People get used to it, and believe somehow there was a decision made to provide it for them," said Gannon.

Mentzer said traffic to three parks on Cedar Bend Lane - a rugby field, an off-leash dog park, and a BMX bicycle track - has increased since 2008.

Mentzer said daily traffic past his home is "hundreds of vehicles. It's like a procession of cars on the weekends."

Gannon said a 2009 count by the Iowa Department of Transportation showed an average of 330 vehicles a day on the road. A November 2010 count by the county showed 145 vehicles daily.

Traffic must reach 400 vehicles a day to justify paving, 200 for seal coat, according to Gannon.

"It doesn't make me real popular with people when I tell them it's not based on keeping the dust off your property, it's based on keeping the dust down to make it safe to drive down the road," he said.

Supervisors will likely ask the city to participate in any dust control project.

"I just want to make sure (the city is) a participant," Supervisor Lu Barron, D-Cedar Rapids, said Monday.

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