Sitting in your backyard on a fall day sounds great, but for one man in Gilchrist County, dust from the dirt road next to his home makes it nearly impossible to enjoy the outdoors.
For the past 11 years, Steven Howard has suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, which makes it difficult to breath. It’s a condition exacerbated when cars passing on the dirt road next to his house spin up dust.
Howard, 58, has lived at his SW 88th Street home in Trenton for five years and is trying to have the speed limit changed from 30 miles per hour to 20.
“I was hoping to request a reduction to 20 or 25,” he said.
He took his concerns to the county commission to get a lower speed limit, not only to limit the amount of dust, but for the safety of people around a hill near his house.
Howard said he was told to place a sprinkler on his property near the road to dampen the dirt, so the dust would not fly up when cars drove past.
“I don’t mind trying to come out of my own pocket with a bit of money,” he said. “But I don’t see why the county couldn’t afford to get a water truck, if it got real bad, to come down a few times. It’s all up to them.”
He even went as far as putting his van and boat in between the road and his home to block the dust that the sprinklers did not fix.
Howard’s house is approximately 120 feet from the dirt road, and he said the dust can be in the air for about thirty minutes if it’s really dry.
On an average day, he counts 20 to 30 cars passing by his house.
“When you hit that dust, it flies,” Howard said.
County commissioner Todd Gray of District III declined to talk about why the speed limit was not changed next to Howard’s house.
Hugh Martin said the lack of visibility on busy roads is the only reason the dust bothers him. Martin, who has lived in the area for 70 years, said the new speed limit would not make much of a difference.
“To make the dust a lot better you have got to drive 2 to 3 miles per hour, he said. “Just creep along.”