Sunday, January 3, 2010

Drive-Alone Trips Likely Drive Area Quarry Expansion

Quarries are in the news lately, and they have impacted many around the area. Unfortunately, it's difficult not to think that the increase in demand for aggregate is related to our thirst for roads.

Last year the legislature passed a large transportation package, House Bill 2001. In 2008, Salem area voters passed the Keep Salem Moving road bond.

These very large public works packages of road building and road expansion drive a significant increase in the need for aggregate. It can hardly be a coincidence, therefore, that three quarries have been proposed in Marion County this past year:

White Cloud property on Skyline Road in May 2009

Expansion of an existing quarry at 8425 Windsor Island Rd in Keizer in September 2009

And this morning comes news of approvals for another one near Stayton.

Unfortunately, these projects impact adversely our homes, our neighbors, our recreation sites, and our quality of life. But they are an indirect cost of our wish to expand the roadway system.

One way to reduce our hunger for new sources of aggregate is to reduce our reliance on road expansion and the drive-alone auto trip. If we all used our cars less, and instead car-pooled, used public transit, biked, or walked, we would more efficiently use and better conserve the roads we already have. Freight, after all, moves just as efficiently on less crowded roads as on bigger roads. Then we could reallocate tax moneys to other kinds of projects that would better improve our lives and not be rendered obsolete as oil and energy become increasingly expensive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right now, the aggregate industry in Salem is severly depressed. The Windsor expansion and the White Cloud pit may not happen for years. The Windsor expansion is the expansion of their current pit. Their is a good chance that they won't start mining on it for another 10 years. The White Cloud pit is opening to give suppliers lower cost aggregate in that area. This due to the big players (Cemex, Old Castle, and Knife River) buying up all the small time pits and ceasing their operations. As the economy gets better, you may see more quarries being permitted in order to under cut the big guys. In the end, it comes down to aggregate prices and supply is not driving the expansions.