If you’ve been out to Castle Mountain Resort in the past number of weeks, you may have noticed that the drive is one heck of a lot smoother. While the paving of the remaining 11-km gravel section of Route 774 isn’t slated to take place until next summer (2018), Alberta Transportation recently arranged for an application of lignin sulfonate to the gravel section and it has made a world of difference!
Lignin sulfonate is used in Alberta (and worldwide) as an alternative to chlorides for dust control. Derived from lignin, a naturally occurring polymer found in wood, the substance is a by-product of the pulp industry. Essentially it acts like a kind of natural glue, binding the road surface particles together to improve the road surface and to reduce dust. It even has a real “woody” smell, when it’s first applied.
Why was it applied?
The short answer is that it was applied to help keep dust to a minimum. With the incarnation of the new Castle Provincial Park, combined with increased summer travel to Castle Mountain Resort, there was a strong case for the application. Frequent travelers of the road would note that you couldn’t drive by a horseback rider, hiker, or camper, without blasting them with a face full of dust. While dust is now minimal along HWY-774 to Castle, the other fortunate side effect of the application is that its led to an incredibly smooth road surface. We like to call it a preview of things to come!
Is it safe?
Lignin sulfonate is an environmentally safe product. It’s not corrosive to your vehicle and it’s non-toxic. Widely used by the U.S. Forest Service, it is not banned for use by any industrialized nation. In fact, it’s even permitted for use in the production and cultivation of organic produce. It’s true that, immediately after application, it can make a bit of a mess on your vehicle (while it dries), but it’s been weeks since our application and the surface is firm.
Enjoy the ride!
Huckleberry Festival 2017 is just around the corner (August 25 – 27) and our new network of summer hiking trails awaits! Pop on out for the festival or simply a hike and a beer at the T-Bar Pub (open Friday to Sunday – click for hours). Car washes after a drive to the Castle are now optional.