The City and Borough of Juneau is getting a new eight cubic yard, vacuum street sweeper.
But as City Manager Rod Swope explains, it can only be used in the Mendenhall Valley.
“Funding for this was acquired through a federal government congestion mitigation/air quality program transferred through the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to us,” said Swope at Monday’s CBJ Assembly meeting. “And the funds are to be used to improve air quality in federally designated non-attainment areas, of which the Mendenhall Valley is one.”
Assembly members appropriated a 250-thousand dollar grant for purchase of the street sweeper.
Woodstoves are the main contributor to the valley’s air quality problem. That’s why the city periodically prohibits their use when the level of fine particulate matter in the air is high. But CBJ Lands Manager Heather Marlow says dust is also a factor, which the vacuum street sweeper should help mitigate.
“These street sweepers have a particular design to them where they don’t kick up as much dust if you will as they go through and clean the street. It’s more of a contained cleaning, rather than the exterior broom type that you typically see,” says Marlow.
Other factors that contribute to particulates in the air include vehicles and power plants.
The city and state Department of Environmental Conservation monitor air quality in the Mendenhall Valley from atop Floyd Dryden Middle School.