Gravel Road Safety

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sponsored by: Department of Land Use and Transportation, Operations and Maintenance Division

Washington County's Department of Land Use and Transportation will apply dust control treatment on some rural gravel roads over the next few weeks. The treatment helps to reduce traffic-generated dust and, even more importantly, contributes to traffic safety. Dust control treatment increases surface stability and thus motorist safety on curves and hills where traffic patterns and volumes cause corrugated or otherwise rough road surfaces.

Dust abatement product applicationAlthough dust control treatment has historically been referred to as "dust oil," it is not a petroleum product. It is an environmentally safe by-product from pulp mills. Dust control treatment contributes to environmental quality by reducing air-borne dust which can contaminate air and water.

With limited resources, the county treats only the most notorious spots where washboarded surfaces present particular driving issues. However, rural residents themselves can choose to pay for dust control on their county-maintained gravel roads. They must first obtain a no-cost dust control permit from the county. The permit coordinates county road grading with private contractor application of the dust control material. The permit also ensures that only environmentally safe products are used and that they are applied appropriately. The dust control permit is free of charge to the property owner or resident; call 503-846-ROAD (846-7623) or e-mail for a permit.

Motorists can help to reduce traffic-generated dust by driving more slowly on gravel roads. Excessive speed increases dust which can damage nearby crops. Driving too fast on gravel also causes washboarding and damages the road surface, increasing the taxpayers' costs for maintenance.


Washington County is committed to planning, building and maintaining the best transportation system, ensuring the safety of all roadway users, and to operating the county roadway system in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner.

Media Contact:

Stephen Roberts, Communications Coordinator