Returning a hard surface road to gravel is taking longer than planned in eastern Tooele County.
County road crews started milling parts of Faust Road on June 24 with hopes of converting the 11.5 mile stretch from asphalt to gravel in one month.
A three-mile paved length of Lookout Pass Road west of SR-36 will also be churned into a gravel road.
However, with only three miles of Faust Road returned to gravel in less than two weeks, the milling machine broke down and was sent off for repairs.
“We are behind schedule,” said Director Rod Thompson for Tooele County Roads Department. “We will get the machine back late this week and may begin work again on Thursday.”
Road crews initially started on Faust Road at SR-73 moving west towards Faust.
However, after having trouble with the milling machine, the crew decided to move to the west end of the Faust Road project and started a quarter mile west of the railroad tracks and worked towards the east.
The machine broke down last week and was sent to a shop for repairs.
The county is renting the milling machine for $15,000 for one month to complete the milling. The county is not paying rent while the machine is being repaired, Thompson said.
The stretches of Faust and Lookout Pass Roads being reverted to gravel are part of the county’s 2013 summer road projects. The material used to pave the roads 15 years ago was substandard and has worn out, leaving the road with long stretches of potholes, according to Thompson.
“The road is not safe,” he said.
The current road surface is not normal asphalt and there is no underlying road base to support a new asphalt surface. County road standards call for 24 inches of road base gravel and asphalt, according to Thompson.
The county is currently rebuilding a portion of the Mormon Trail Road, with the help of a federal grant, at the cost of $1 million per mile.
To rebuild the Faust Road to federal standards would cost $12 million.
The county would be milling up the old road surface even if it did not have financial problems, according to Thompson.
“Even if we had all the money in the world to fix all the roads in the county, the first thing we would do to Faust Road is mill up the existing surface,” he said.
The milling machine chews up the hard road surface, leaving behind small chunks of pavement that become the new road surface.
Reduced visibility from dust and loss of traction on a gravel road has Rick Lybbert, developer of the Last Chance Resort, concerned about safety.
However, the county will grade the road after it is milled and cover it with magnesium chloride to keep the dust down, Thompson said.
Vernon residents who use Faust Road to commute to southern Salt Lake County and Utah County are upset that Faust Road is being converted to gravel.
Alternative routes add 18 miles and 30 minutes to the drive, according to Vernon Mayor Kent Sagers.
“We realize that the people that live out here are used to a hard surface road,” Thompson said. “But the stuff that was put down is just old, deteriorating and not safe.”
When the road crew is actively milling, Faust Road is closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and opened to traffic in the evening.