Street sweepers kick up dust

A MESA COUNTY STREET SWEEPER cleans along 33 Road in Clifton. “We apologize for the dust; it’s just the nature of the beast,” says driver Richard Martinez. “Just bear with us.”

Every year, winter’s reign heralds in a coating of roads with sands and salts in an effort to keep motorists from slipping, sliding and crashing.

But when the weather warms and the streets dry, the sand and dust blow with the wind.

That’s when Richard Martinez buckles himself into a Mesa County street sweeper.

This new street machine has an undercarriage of three rotating brushes. The sweeper rolls forward at less than 10 mph, while the brushes whisk whatever they meet into the belly of this street-cleaning beast. When full, Martinez pulls up the brushes and makes a beeline for the nearest county yard to dump his dusty load.

While soils are lifted from roadways, a giant cloud of dust rises and is carried by the wind.

“We apologize for the dust; it’s just the nature of the beast,” Martinez said.

On Wednesday morning, he was making his way north on 33 Road, south of E Road, in Clifton.

“We are just doing the main arteries right now,” Martinez said.

As an experienced street sweeper, with eight years under his belt, Martinez said the hardest part of the job is dealing with the motorized public.

Sometimes, he said, drivers get impatient with his speed or irked by the dust cloud he produces.

“Just bear with us,” he asks.


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