Village at Avon dueling with dust | VailDaily.com
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Village at Avon dueling with dust

Matt Zalaznick

Neighbors of the large construction site that is rapidly becoming the mega-stores and parking lots of the Village at Avon have been complaining about migrating clouds of dust since work started this spring.

But Shane Bohart, director of development for Village at Avon builder Traer Creek LLC, says workers are using a variety of techniques to deal with the dust.

“We’ve done everything in our power and sometimes gone beyond what’s required to mitigate the dust,” Bohart says. “When it gets windy we’ve shut the project down. We also have expensive dust monitoring equipment in place.”

The dust was the worst during this summer’s extended dry spell, says Kristi Ferraro, whose home is alongside the project on Eaglebend Drive.

“It was good while it was wet and rainy, but it’s getting bad again,” Ferraro says. “Their trucks drive along the gravel road and kick up huge trails of dust, and it just floats over.”

On the worst days dust has blanketed her home and windows, she says.

“It’s just not that pleasant to be outside,” she says. “This summer it just feels like we’ve been stuck in doors.”

The Village at Avon’s construction permit requires Traer Creek to control the dust kicked up by construction, says Larry Brooks, Avon’s assistant town manager.

“I’m sorry people are unhappy with the results, but I don’t think (Traer Creek) has shirked their duties,” Brooks says. “It’s less than a perfect world, but I feel pretty good about the dust.

“That doesn’t mean I’m happy every day, but I probably wouldn’t be happy every day even if I was doing the work,” Brooks adds.

Suppression efforts at the Village at Avon were stymied a bit this summer when strict water restrictions imposed in the valley prohibited workers from soaking the site to control dust, Bohart says.

But workers continued to battle the dust with expensive monitors, mulch and seeding, says Erik Peterson, director of construction.

The monitors measure micrograms of dust per cubic meter of air. The Environmental Protection Agency’s threshold for a health hazard is 150 micrograms per cubic meter, Peterson says.

“Never once have we even approached being at 50 percent of the critical stage,” Peterson says.

Most days the level has been below 20 micrograms of dust per cubic meter, though on Aug. 10 monitors recorded a level of 38, he says.

“We’re far below the EPA threshold,” Peterson says. “We’ve really stepped up our dust control program and mitigated a lot of problems we saw during the beginning of construction.”

Instead of spraying water, workers have been using mag-chloride –a substance more well-known for melting ice – and seeding graded areas, Peterson says.

Construction trucks also have been told to take specific routes through the project to prevent excess dust from spreading into the adjoining neighborhoods, Bohart says.

“There’s no way anybody can control all this dust, but we’re being very proactive and adhering to our permit from the town of Avon,” Bohart says.

Work has progressed rapidly at the Village at Avon. Parking lots have been paved, a new bridge is being built between the complex and U.S. Highway 6 and the edifices of The Home Depot and Wal-Mart are standing.

Sometimes the faster pace of the work might stir up more dust, but finishing the complex quickly –and cleanly – will be good for everyone, Brooks says.

“With each passing week, there are new areas being paved,” Brooks says. “The quicker they get done, the quicker they’re all sealed up, the better we’re all going to be.

“Then we’re done with the great big projects,” he adds.

The stores, connecting roads and an Interstate 70 interchange are all expected to open by next fall. Traer Creek has more development planned for the site, though what will be built alongside the big box stores has not yet been decided.

Ferraro says she and neighbors still are leery about dust as construction continues over the next few years.

“The dust hasn’t risen to levels of this summer, but it might if it stays dry,” Ferraro says. “Living in the mountains, I’ve been around development a lot, and this is one of the dustier developments I’ve seen.

“Maybe that’s because it’s so big and there’s so much heavy machinery,” she adds. “But it doesn’t seem like they’re going out of their way.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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