Gravel Road Maintenance
The BCRC maintains 480 miles of unpaved roads. Of these roads 9.5 miles are considered seasonal maintenance only. While they carry only a small portion of the County’s traffic, they are a vital first link in the local economy. Good maintenance is crucial to the life of a gravel road. Weather conditions and vehicle traffic change a gravel road surface daily.
The surface should have a good quantity of gravel (6″ to 8″) with good crown and adequate drainage. The crown is the most important design element of a gravel road. Without a proper crown, water saturates the surface instead of draining off. Vehicles traveling on a saturated, unpaved surface will create ruts. As these ruts increase in number and size, the road will become very rough, and its usefulness will decreased. Rain wash and vehicle wind wash also remove the fines from the surface and start a wash boarding and chuckhole effect. This can be corrected by reshaping the road surface. Scraping the road will remove the ruts and restore the crown to its proper shape. Sometimes you must also add gravel to restore the surface of the road.
Properly blended road gravel will produce a good surface. Good road gravel has three elements: gravel, sand and fines (clay and silt). A good blend has a mixture of all three. The clay is the binder that helps hold the gravel in place.
The BCRC only produces high quality gravel that meets AASHTO, ASTM and MTM specifications from any one of our five gravel pits located throughout the County. The engineering staff at BCRC is properly trained to run field test and ensure that our gravel meets all the above specifications. With the help of the 16 Townships the BCRC places approximately 55,000 cubic yards of gravel on the 480 miles of unpaved roads throughout the County. That’s only enough to re-gravel approximately 20 miles of unpaved roads at 6″ deep, that is why the BCRC spot places gravel on the worst spots first. We estimate that on average the BCRC regravels all 480 miles approximately every 20 years.
Good maintenance is crucial to the life and quality of an unpaved road. Use changes its original shape: the crown is flattened, Chuck holes develop, and surface materials are blown, plowed or washed away. Winter snow removal can cause some of the gravel to be scraped to edge of the road. In the spring the BCRC pulls that gravel back onto the roadway, mixes it with existing gravel and lays it back out. The surface conditions are a very important factor in determining when to grade a gravel road. If it is to dry the gravel will not compact and chuckholes will quickly redevelop. Surfaces worked when they are too wet may not be stable. A damp surface is best. The BCRC takes great pride and attention to the unpaved roads in Barry County and when conditions are at their best puts every effort into scraping, reshaping and adding gravel to the 480 miles of gravel roads in your County.