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''Out in the West Texas town of El Paso...''

The El Paso engineering department is looking at allowing gravel parking lots instead of asphalt, but dust is a consideration.

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Although the El Paso, Texas city code specifies asphalt for city parking lots, a city architect asked the city earlier this year to approve a gravel parking for a new low-income housing project in South El Paso. The gravel request was pitched as more economical, permeable and environmentally friendly than the black stuff.

El Paso (pop. 613,910) is a border town on the banks of the Rio Grande. Across that historic river is Ciudad Juárez, a city with more than double the population.

El Paso currently allows gravel parking lots for new buildings, but only for overflow parking. The city now has asked its engineering department to look more closely at this issue.

One drawback may be an air-quality concern. The city manager notes the city already has trouble meeting federal standards for the amount of dust in the air. Vehicles in gravel parking lots do kick up some dust, so this is one consideration to weigh versus putting black tar down. Porous asphalt exists, but is apparently not an option under discussion.

City engineers speculate that gravel parking lots could cause damage to the drainage system if pebbles travel onto the streets and then into the drains.

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October 20, 2019, 8:11 pm PDT

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