The West Coast mine, just north of Coachella, has been granted a permit to continue operations for 55 more years. We investigate the effects that this could have on traffic for the surrounding areas.
The West Coast Aggregate Supply Inc. mine is situated in Riverside County, California. The mine is near Interstate 10 and Dillon Road, and is about 5 miles away from commercial and residential areas. It is close to Coachella Valley, world-renowned for the Coachella Music Festival.
The mine’s current permit allows 1.8 million tons of sand, gravel and stone to be excavated annually. After a re-visitation and revision of this permit, Riverside County supervisors held a unanimous vote granting the mine permission to continue operations for 25 to 55 years.
West Coast Mining Plans for the Future
The permit allows West Coast to expand its operations, according to Riverside County Clerk of the Board. West Coast intends to extend their mining area by 17 acres, increase the depth of their excavation and relocate plant equipment within the current mine site.
The mine is now allowed to import, stockpile and sell recycled inert construction debris. Necessary modifications to the asphalt plant area, to enable 24-hour operation, were approved. Additionally, West Coast plans on adding drilling and blasting to their mining activities. Though blasting may be required for future quarry expansion operations, the local community has had concerns about its use.
All of these activities will require trucks and vehicles to achieve their purposes, which will likely increase traffic around Dillon road.
There are no plans to change how much the mine is allowed to excavate annually. However, because of the extended permit, the accumulative output of the mine will increase from 28 to 55 million tons.
Effects on Traffic
Dan Reyneveld, chief executive officer of West Coast Sand and Gravel Inc., says that West Coast employs around 40 truck drivers, according to The Desert Sun. Residents in the area are concerned that the mine’s expansion will mean more West Coasts trucks causing traffic tie-ups on the road.
A report on the permit, commissioned by the Planning Department of Riverside County, estimated that production in the future will require a maximum of 270 daily truck trips: double the current amount.
The expansion of the asphalt plant will bring in 38 more trips, in addition to the 44 daily trips bringing in employees and vendors. However, the Riverside County Transportation Department did not require that measures be implemented to handle the increased traffic.
A revision conducted by the Riverside County Waste Management Department last year found that the mine’s expansion will lead to 798 more daily vehicle trips on Dillon road. The Desert Sun reports how Sidor, a homeowner in the area, said that if she could, she’d vote against the permit changes.
In the meeting leading up to the vote, these issues were discussed. A proper evaluation, including an environment review, had been conducted. The Planning Department received no comments opposing the permit. However, it is not clear that the permit changes were made public before the permit was approved.
Noise and Vibration Effects
The vibration and noise will remain below significant levels, as the blasting locations are 1,900 feet from the closest residential areas. The permit stipulates that measures must be implemented to alleviate significant noise and vibration.
This won’t eliminate noise and vibration, but the amount of disturbance near residential areas should be minimal. Another condition of the approved permit is that blasting operations will be limited to daytime hours and weekdays.
How Companies Can Minimise Resident Complaints
Companies working at the mine should obtain an evaluation report from the California Department of Transport and the Riverside County Transportation Department. This will help keep all residents updated about the traffic situation.
Companies can take measures to mitigate the traffic increase, such as making sure that there are proper parking spaces, developing efficient construction plans for periods of expansion, and making sure that there is an efficient circulation of vehicles, as well as traffic signs on-site.
Companies should plan for vehicle and truck trips to take place during off-peak hours, so that communities will be less affected. Companies should then inform residents of these plans.
An increase in traffic around Dillon Road is inevitable, but proper evaluations of the implications of the permit changes determined that no significant road measures would need to be taken. At the same time, companies should make sure to address the complaints of Riverside County residents, and do whatever they can to ensure an efficient traffic flow.
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