The Ottumwa Courier

March 28, 2013

Van Buren Co. clears up rock confusion

Ottumwa Courier

KEOSAUQUA — Is it roadstone or “modified subbase?”

That was the question during this week’s Van Buren County Board of Supervisors’ meeting, where officials argued as to what to call the rock being crushed at the county quarry.

County Engineer Dave Barrett has been referring to the rock that is being crushed as 3/4-inch roadstone.

However, Supervisor Bob Waugh said he did some checking, and after getting complaints from a couple of county residents, found that the rock being crushed is considered “modified subbase.” This allows a portion of the rock to be above 3/4-inch. According to  the definition, it can contain up to 30 percent over 3/4-inch and no greater than 1-1/2 inches.

That’s what the contract calls for, Barrett said, and recent tests showed that only 17 percent of the rock is above 3/4 inches. Waugh, however, said he did his own tests with another company, and it met specs with 23 percent over 3/4 inches.

Barrett agreed that it is a modified subbase but said there is a reason he called it 3/4-inch roadstone. The vast majority of the rock is 3/4-inch and “nobody understands what modified subbase is.”

Waugh said he thought it might confuse the public when some of the rock was more than 3/4 inch.

Barrett asked Waugh if the person who did the testing was accredited by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. According to federal law, if a mine is “active” (such as when rock is being crushed), then the only ones allowed on the site are those accredited by MSHA. Waugh assured him that the person doing the inspection was accredited.

Waugh also questioned the hardness of the rock. “If the rock breaks down, how much is it worth?” he asked.

Barrett has said the rock is of good quality.

Supervisor Ted Nixon said, “One of the things they stressed at an ISAC meeting is all roads have a life cycle. Cement roads last so long, about 50 years, blacktop roads last so long and gravel roads have a life cycle.”

Gravel, he said, won’t last forever and much of it gets swept to the side of the road by traffic, not because it’s too soft. The supervisors also discussed whether spending double on the price per ton from another quarry was justified, unless it was used for short hauls, like it is now.