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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

Gravel Road Maintenance

  • 16 Mar 2024 8:56 AM
    Message # 13330400

    Reading through the materials of Gravel Road manual and presentations done on maintenance of gravel roads it seems we should be budgeting for gravel almost every year. We do have the road graded once a year to restore the crown.  How do others on gravel roads budget their maintenance costs each year? 

    Background information: Our association is about one mile and quarter total length of gravel road with 22 full time residents, two part residents, and four lots still unimproved.  Snowplowing is done by local excavation contractor. We have some board members that have commented we added gravel but it does not make a difference.  They say the road is a typical old logging road that probably had stumps buried in it.  We did have a 200 ft problem section done with fabric and recycled asphalt that has held up well for two mud seasons.  This is a very expensive fix as costs have increased further for this type of treatment.  
    We did not have any gravel last year and the thought is not to have any gravel this year.  
    One section of the road has received a lot of traffic with the construction of 2 new homes.  Calculating the estimated vehicle traffic based on one tri-axle dump truck equals 10,000 vehicles and including cement trucks in the mix that section saw the equivalent of 1400-1500 vehicles a day in the last year and half if I did the math correctly.  This same section has some really soft areas that I don’t think just re-crowning the road will fix for next winter.

    Any recommendations based on others experiences would be greatly appreciated.

  • 17 Mar 2024 6:08 PM
    Reply # 13330807 on 13330400
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Another excellent manual on gravel road maintenance is A Ditch in Time.  There is a link to it on the Resources page. 

    One recommendation I have heard is to figure how many years you can go between needing to add more gravel, divide the road into that many sections, and add gravel to one of those sections each year.  When you get to the end, start over.  Or, if you can afford to do more than that fraction of the road each year, do what you can afford, and then when you reach the end you can have a gap before you need to start over.

  • 19 Mar 2024 3:47 PM
    Reply # 13331844 on 13330400

    We are experiencing road issues again this year. We have 63 lots, 46 developed, 17 undeveloped.  All pay dues based on Developed or Undeveloped.  We had cars stuck in the mud, very bad this year.  We are looking into Substrata Perma-zyme as one solution.  Anyone ever hear of it? 

    Our road agent grades, gravel as needed but we need more.

  • 20 Mar 2024 2:02 PM
    Reply # 13332302 on 13330400
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I've never heard of Perma-zyme, but it sounds intriguing - if it actually does what it says.  So I went online looking for reviews, and found the following.  If you go down the thread, there are mixed reviews, including a rather in-depth study by someone wondering if it could be used as an alternative building material, and someone else who was trying it for a road.  So far the thread doesn't have any review from anyone who used it years ago, telling whether it held up or not.  Anyway, you might want to read through this and draw your own conclusions.  If anyone else has actually used it, I'd love to her how it has held up. 

    I did finally find one success story, but it's from Michigan, and their soil type and weather conditions may not be the same as ours.

    Last modified: 20 Mar 2024 2:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 21 Mar 2024 3:19 PM
    Reply # 13332941 on 13330400
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Gregory, could you please share your methodology for your calculation of:

    "One section of the road has received a lot of traffic with the construction of 2 new homes.  Calculating the estimated vehicle traffic based on one tri-axle dump truck equals 10,000 vehicles and including cement trucks in the mix that section saw the equivalent of 1400-1500 vehicles a day in the last year and half if I did the math correctly. "

    Thank you.

  • 22 Mar 2024 9:39 AM
    Reply # 13333254 on 13330400
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At one time there was a study done (based on the "Fourth Power Law") that concluded the impact of one five-axle tractor/semi-trailer on a road is equivalent to 9,600 passenger cars.  I remember when it was reported in AAA magazine decades ago, and it was accepted widely for some time.  Having seen what a logging operation had done to our road, I readily accepted it as fact.

    On the other hand, a more recent study that was based on actually running trucks repeatedly over a stretch of pavement arrived at a much lower figure - somewhere around one truck to 300 to 350 cars.  But that was based on paved roads, and it was noted that the thinner the pavement, the higher the damage.  Obviously, the effect on a gravel road will be much more pronounced - but probably not as high as one truck to 9,600 cars, much as I'd like to think so!   Still, even at a ratio of 1 to 350, that means that one single round trip pass with a heavy truck can take a year's worth of once daily round trip passes with a passenger car out of a paved road, and more out of a gravel road.  I'll attach the study that explains it all. 

    1 file
  • 23 Mar 2024 3:24 PM
    Reply # 13333768 on 13330400

    I used the number from the “A Ditch in Time” about gravel road maintenance. That referenced 1 large dump truck = 10,000 vehicles.  I also counted that if a truck came into our road and left by the same route that counted 2x.  Between the two houses that were built we had a lot of fill deliveries not to mention cement trucks, low boys with bulldozer and excavators just to mention a few.  I did not count all the material deliveries and job site workers. If there was 50 trucks at 2 trips (in/out) and each truck equaling 10,000 vehicles that is 1,000,000 vehicles.

    Since construction covered almost 2 years, that then equals 500,000 vehicles each year.  Divide that by 365 days/ year and then I added our normal residents daily traffic estimate to that number. 

    It is not a completely accurate estimate but at least puts some perspective to the traffic situation and why we need 96 yds of gravel in some road areas this year when we grade the road.

  • 24 Mar 2024 9:49 AM
    Reply # 13333931 on 13330400
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I completely agree that heavy trucks do a great deal of damage to roads.  I do think that the figures from the study I cited are not the whole story for gravel roads.  The study even says that the thinner the pavement, the higher the damage - so obviously, if there is no pavement, there will be a lot more damage.  But I also know that when you try to claim 10,000 trucks to one car, people who drive heavy trucks will vehemently disagree. Some will even try to tell you that because they have more tires to distribute the weight, they actually do less damage than a car.  In answer, I would simply show them a picture of my husband trying to get out of what was left of the road to our house after it was used by a logging operation.  (See first picture.) To be fair, this road had NO gravel, and this was in the 1980's.  The industry has since cracked down on such abuse to a large extent, but even if they use a road only when it's dry and firm, the sheer weight of the trucks compresses the road surface in their two tire tracks, resulting in destroying the crown so rain water can't run off the road.  (See second picture.)

    2 files
    Last modified: 24 Mar 2024 9:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

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