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A Botched Road


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David's Forum Posts: 39

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By David in Salem, OR on 11/2/2005


I had to find an excavator to build a long gravel road across relatively flat farmland to my building site. The total length is 450 feet to the driveway area, and 520 feet total length.

I got three bids, all about the same price. The main factor became availability. I had to get the thing done before the rains came--so I chose the one that could work the job into his schedule soonest. The excavator was ready. I met him at the property that morning. I brought a huge roll of road fabric and told him I would be back that afternoon to roll it out.

The road was staked out, no trees or bushes to clear. The job seemed plain as day. I came back about 5-6 hours later. I thought the excavator was going to take about 3-4 inches of soil off the top of the ground--at most 6 inches. He had taken the area down between 9 and 12 inches the whole distance.

It was one of those instances where you know something is wrong, but the reality of the situation doesn't hit you right away.

I asked him why he dug it so deep. He said he might have gotten a little "carried away." I rolled out the fabric--still disbelieving the problem I had.

The next day, the 3" base rock was delivered and spread--about 4 inches deep. Fortunately, I had requested that the top rock (3/4 minus) not be added until after the house was completed.  

Now I have a "road" that is about 5-6 inches below grade. The main worry is that the winter rains (which have already started) will fill the thing up. It was suggested by the rock company that it should be brought up to grade with 3" base and then compacted with a 5-ton riding roller?

Anybody know how to turn a "river" into a road?


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Mark's Forum Posts: 118

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By Mark in Los Angeles, CA on 11/30/2005


If the land around the road is totally flat, you're in trouble. If not, and it has a few places where the shoulder falls off, then you have a fighting chance.

What they do out west to keep the roads from washing out is to make cuts from the edge of the road that lead off anywhere form 10-20 feet directly away from the road. This allows water running down the road to run away from the road once it reaches these cuts.

I'm guessing your road does have a few places where it falls off beside the road.

In the future, if this happens again, make the contractor pay for the extra road base that you will have to use to get the road above grade level. It's his mistake and he should bear the cost.

Good luck.

Mark


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By David in Salem, OR on 11/30/2005


Thanks, Mark, you sound like a driveway pro. By the way, I am out west, just a state to the north--and yes, it is wet and for the most part, flat. There is some drop-off, because I had sense enough to stake the driveway at the highest point on the acreage.

These cuts (as you call them), are they like a swale, or more of an open culvert? In this case, there is a definite low point in the driveway, so a swale was dug out towards the direction water would naturally drain. Boy, did it fill up. I think it wasn't dug out far enough because its become a pond (not draining fast enough.)

I think you have a great idea. Is there somewhere I could look at a picture or a drawing of these "cuts?" I've had about five additional contractors look at this thing and you're the first that suggested as such. I think it is worth a try.

By the way, the original contractor who dug it too deep did bring in more rock, but it's not enough. He's going to lose money on this project, unfortunately.


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By Mark in Los Angeles, CA on 12/1/2005


David, I don't have any pictures to show you what I am talking about. But, I'll try to describe it better.

Basically, what it is, is a man-made swale that that is cut perpendicular to the road. It's not very deep. It's just a sort of like a French drain without the gravel. I think the cut is made by a backhoe. The waste material is piled up on the "downhill" side of the cut to form a small berm. In your case, you might need to make your cut feed out to a large area that won't develop into a swamp/pond.

That contractor left you in a tough situation, sir. He should have built that road up to above grade level. But, that's in the past.

The only thing else I might suggest is that you may have to put in more gravel to raise it up. Not an ideal solution, by any means. But, you'll have to do something to take care of this, or live with driving through rather large puddles, or over long stretches of sheets of ice.

Good luck, sir.


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By Ambryn in Santa Cruz, CA on 12/6/2005


Yeah, I would have to agree with Mark for the most part, the contractor should not have taken out that much material. The only thing you can do is do what Mark said and try to direct the water across the road into a low area using a series of berms (you can make them with a backhoe, dozer, or just some sand bags filled with 3/4" gravel).

If most of the road is lower than the surrounding area, you need to put more rock down to raise it up higher than the surrounding ground. I would use a 1 1/2" gravel only because it is easier to drive on and it should be the same price as the 3". The other alternative is to use the 3/4" rock or asphalt grindings (grindings are cheaper but should be fine for a driveway). 
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Doug's Forum Posts: 31
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By Doug in Lawrence, KS on 12/9/2005


I think I would bite the bullet and bring in the rock required to build your road above grade. 500 feet is going to cost around $4,000 to bring it above grade, but in the long run you will be better off doing it right. A bad road will ruin an otherwise good experience in living in a new home.

Doug


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 1/28/2007


You might want to ask the local gravel company if they have "road quality AB", or sometimes the local road-building contractor has fill material for sale.

Something else you may want to consider is creating a ditch that feeds off to a low spot to reduce the water in your 'river'. Proper drainage of a road is as important as it is to a house.

Heavy compaction will help keep the water out of your driveway subsurface.

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