Clark County commissioners were questioned Tuesday about the decision to allow gravel trucks from J.L. Storedahl & Sons to make nighttime trips to and from the Salmon Creek Interchange project.
Ridgefield resident Richard Dyrland expressed his “deep concern and disgust” during the public comment portion of the commissioners’ meeting.
Gravel trucks have shattered what Dyrland said was the “peace and quiet” of the lower East Fork of the Lewis River valley.
The nighttime hauling began two weeks ago, with gravel trucks being loaded at Storedahl’s Daybreak site near La Center, driven to the interchange project, then sent to the Tebo quarry north of Battle Ground filled with excavated material.
The work goes on until 3 or 4 a.m., Dyrland said. He brought a tape recorder and played the sounds of noisy trucks for the commissioners.
“Is this really the policy of Clark County government, to ignore the rights of its citizens and instead give preference to the irrational requests of a few special interests?” Dyrland asked.
Chairman Tom Mielke said Dyrland’s complaint was the first he’d heard about the project.
According to an Aug. 1 letter from the Washington State Department of Transportation, the work has to be done at night because lanes of Interstate 5 and I-205 can’t be closed during the day.
“The project is located on I-5 and I-205, and is in a heavily traveled corridor,” engineer Leon Winger wrote in a letter to Rotschy Inc.
Rotschy hired Storedahl as a subcontractor.
“Because of the heavy traffic, the majority of the work requiring hauling of material in and out of the project will have to be done during off-peak hours under lane closures,” Winger wrote.
In an Oct. 20 memo to county commissioners, Marty Snell, director of the county’s Department of Community Development, said he approved the night hauling.
The approximately $135 million Salmon Creek interchange project will make long-awaited improvements and is the largest public works project in recent county history, Snell wrote.
Storedahl operates the Daybreak mine and Tebo quarry through a conditional use permit. One of the conditions limits the hours of operation to Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“I granted approval Aug. 10, 2011, for night hauling from the Daybreak mine and Tebo quarry,” Snell wrote. “It is important to note that no mining or crushing is allowed outside the normal operating hours.”
Mielke said Tuesday that he didn’t think the trucks would be too noisy because the trucks would be loaded each way.
Empty trucks do make more noise on the road, said Mielke, who used to own a trucking company.
Mielke asked for a staff member to respond to Dyrland’s concerns. Senior policy analyst Axel Swanson said the county could have better communicated with affected residents about the night hauling. The county put the information on its website and posted signs.
Swanson said he recently spoke with Kimball Storedahl, who told him that the night trips should be finished next week.
In a letter to county commissioners, Storedahl wrote that mitigation included: replacing back-up alarms with strobe lights, using the same trucks to haul in both directions to reduce truck traffic and restricting use of exhaust brakes.
“As you know, this project is intended for the betterment of our community as a whole, and aspects of the project have been scheduled for evening hours to mitigate the impacts to our community during the project’s construction,” Storedahl wrote.
The Salmon Creek Interchange Project is WSDOT’s biggest active project. After Clark County coordinated its first two stages, WSDOT has taken the lead for stages three and four.
Stage 3, now under way, will add one lane to both directions of I-5 between Northeast 139th and 179th streets. Plans also call for a new lane on the northbound offramp from I-205 to Northeast 134th Street.
Multiple stormwater ponds and other facets of the project are also in progress.
Stage 4, the new 139th Street bridge and interchange, will begin later this year.