Proposed Madera County rock quarry raises concerns about impact on traffic, water, and air

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A proposed rock quarry is stirring up controversy in Madera County. It?s called the Austin Quarry and the plans will be up for approval Tuesday night.

A proposed rock quarry is stirring up controversy in Madera County. It's called the Austin Quarry and the plans will be up for approval Tuesday night.

There are 348 acres of land marked for digging where Highways 145 and 41 meet, 12 miles east of Madera. The final environmental impact report is being reviewed and many still have questions.

Kenny McFarrin lives nearby and he said, "I think there's other locations this could have been done, not right smack dab in the middle 41 and 145."

Among the concerns: traffic, water, and air quality. Michael Linton, who is with Vulcan Materials, Western Division-- the company proposing the projects says traffic will be impacted but in a good way.

He said, on average, 200 trucks would be going in and out of the gates per day and to keep them from slowing people down on the roads, new lanes will be added on both highways. Linton said 17 intersections along Highway 145 will also be improved.

"In some ways, traffic will be better after our project than before because we're building more road capacity than we're putting trucks on the road," Linton added.

Linton said the quarry will also help with water. The plan, he said, is to capture rainfall, recharge the aquifer, and recycle. One hundred acre feet of water, he said, will be imported every year from outside the county and donated to Madera County-- which is more than the quarry will use.

As for air quality, Vulcan Materials said the quarry will have paved roads and water will be used to control the dust.

McFarrin said it sounds like a nice plan but he is skeptical.

"Even though, they're gonna say what they're gonna do, are they really gonna do it and really follow through with it?"

The company said it would have to follow through or the permit to operate would be revoked. Linton said it would run a lot like the current mining site on Friant in Fresno, which will be shutting down soon and the land will be restored before moving on.

Linton said, "I think once you really understand the project, there'll be a lot less angst in the community."

The project will be in front of the planning commission Tuesday night. The meeting will be inside the Board of Supervisors Chambers. It starts at 6 p.m. and there will be time for public comment.
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