Green liquid on Ennis’ roads is dust abatement, part of road improvement project

If you’ve seen a strange green looking substance on the dirt roads in Ennis this week, don’t be alarmed – it’s all in the name of dust abatement and road enhancement.

The substance is a blue-green dyed magnesium chloride, which is a commonly used product to help control dust and enhance dirt roads, said Kelly Elser, public works director for the town of Ennis.

The magnesium chloride is the second part of a road improvement project, Elser said. Along with the magnesium chloride, the town has also brought in about 1,200 yards of gravel for the dirt roads around town.

Besides magnesium chloride also helps to stabilize the road, he said. So it’s is an important second step after putting down a layer of new gravel.

“We just put down 1,200 yards of gravel and without this dust control you would lose it,” Elser said. “It will hold the road together a lot better.”

Contractors laid down the first coat of magnesium chloride Monday afternoon. The second coat will come in the next week to 10 days, he said.

This is the first time Ennis has used magnesium chloride on its roads, but Madison County uses it, Elser said.

“This is just something I wanted to do for dust control,” he said.

The blue-green dye in the magnesium chloride came as a bit of a surprise, Elser said.

The town had “more than a handful” of calls on Tuesday from residents curious about the substance, which will wash off vehicles easily, he said.

“I wasn’t expecting the dye, that was kind of a surprise for me too,” Elser said.

In literature on their website, the Environmental Protection Agency calls magnesium chloride a hygroscopic product. This means it draws moisture from the air to keep the road surface perpetually damp. According to the EPA it is a “very effective” product for dust abatement.

The cost of the gravel for the roads was about $9,000. Madison County hauled and spread the gravel for no cost. The magnesium chloride is being applied by a private contractor and cost the town about $8,000.

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