Dust and dirt concerns over Dorr Street interchange project

Some nearby residents fed up with cleaning, breathing issues
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 5:29 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2020 at 6:14 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Jeff Cureton worked in construction for 22 years, so he’s familiar with the long, arduous process of such a project as the Dorr Street interchange. All the dust and dirt drifting down the highway recently, however, is proving too much to bear.

“You get used to the noise, but it’s the dirt that you can’t escape,” says Cureton. “You’re already cooped up in the house all winter because of COVID-19, then you can’t even go out in your yard because the dust is so bad, you’re choking on it.”

In our short time at his home on Nebraska by I-475 -- a half-mile south of the main construction site -- a thin layer of dust had already settled on the cars. Cureton says the inconvenience of having such a dirty environment isn’t just cosmetic.

“It’s getting to the point where you’re constantly cleaning outside -- the chairs, the furniture, the cars -- but the lady across the street, one of her kids has medical issues and asthma,” Cureton said. “If they have underlying conditions, it makes it worse.”

ODOT works with contractors for larger projects like this, and hosing down the site with water to cut down on dust is part of that agreement. Cureton says “In the meeting before they started construction, they said there would be a water truck every 30 minutes going up and down. I haven’t seen one in weeks.”

“Any time we’re causing dusty situations, we want to try and be the kind neighbors, getting some water down to try and prevent that as much as we can,” says ODOT’s Rebecca Dangelo. For their part, the department says there’s literally a sound reason for much of the current dust being kicked up: a noise suppression berm on the roadside.

“They’re building up that mound,” says Dangelo, “which then is causing some dusty conditions in the area, with those huge trucks driving on the dirt and stirring it up, as well as carrying dirt for that mound to try and prevent some of that [highway] noise.”

Recent rainfall can also dictate how often the water trucks come by, but with much of northwest Ohio still in a moderate drought, ODOT says they’ll keep a closer eye on dust control going forward.

“Now that Jeff has let us know, we’re going to make sure we’re on that a little more regularly -- whether that’s the engineer or inspector on the ODOT side -- to encourage the contractor to be out there more regularly as well,” Dangelo said.

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