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Under st andi ng Road

Cr oss Sect i on
Everyone i nvol ved i n gravel road mai n-
t enance must underst and t he correct
shape of t he ent i re area w i t hi n t he
road’ s ri ght -of -w ay. Fi gure 1 show s a
t ypi cal cross sect i on of a gravel road.
If st at es have mi ni mum st andards or
pol i ci es f or l ow -vol ume roads, t hey
must be f ol l ow ed.
In order t o mai nt ai n a gravel road prop-
erl y, operat ors must cl earl y underst and
t he need f or t hree basi c i t ems: a
crow ned dri vi ng surf ace, a shoul der
area t hat sl opes di rect l y aw ay f rom
t he edge of t he dri vi ng surf ace, and a
di t ch. The shoul der area and t he di t ch
of many gravel roads may be mi ni mal .
Thi s i s part i cul arl y t rue i n regi ons w i t h
very narrow or conf i ned ri ght -of -w ays.
Regardl ess of t he l ocat i on, t he basi c
shape of t he cross sect i on must be
correct or a gravel road w i l l not perf orm
w el l , even under very l ow t raf f i c.
Paved roads are usual l y desi gned and
t hen const ruct ed w i t h caref ul consi der -
at i on gi ven t o correct shape of t he cross
sect i on. Once pavi ng i s f i ni shed, t he
roadw ay keeps i t s shape f or an i ndef i -
ni t e peri od of t i me. Gravel roads are
qui t e di f f erent . Unf ort unat el y, many of
t hem are not const ruct ed w el l i ni t i al l y.
In addi t i on, gravel roads t end t o rut
more easi l y i n w et w eat her. Traf f i c al so
t ends t o di spl ace gravel f rom t he sur-
f ace t o t he shoul der area and even t o
t he di t ch duri ng dry w eat her . Managers
and equi pment operat ors have t he con-
t i nual responsi bi l i t y of keepi ng t he
roadw ay properl y shaped. The shape
of t he road surf ace and t he shoul der
area i s t he equi pment operat or’ s
responsi bi l i t y and i s cl assi f i ed as
rout i ne mai nt enance.
Keepi ng t he f oresl ope and di t ch est ab-
l i shed and shaped i s of t en t he mai nt e-
nance operat or’ s responsi bi l i t y as w el l .
Obvi ousl y, t he w hol e i dea here i s t o
keep w at er drai ned aw ay f rom t he
roadw ay. St andi ng w at er at any pl ace
w i t hi n t he cross sect i on (i ncl udi ng t he
di t ch) i s one of t he maj or reasons f or
di st ress and f ai l ure of a gravel road.
There i s somet i mes a need f or speci al -
i zed equi pment t o do maj or reshapi ng
of t he cross sect i on,especi al l y i n very
w et condi t i ons. How ever, t he operat or
of rout i ne mai nt enance equi pment must
do everyt hi ng possi bl e t o t ake care of
Sect i on I:
Rout i ne Mai nt enance
and Rehabi l i t at i on
Fi gur e 1: The component s of t he r oadway cr oss sect i on.
Sect i on I: Rout i ne Mai nt enance and Rehabi l i t at i on 1
2 Under st andi ng Road Cr oss Sect i on
Thi s r oad, l ocat ed i n Pol and, has ver y poor cr oss sect i on wi t h no
di t ches. Consequent l y, wat er dr ai ns down t he r oadway i t sel f and
af t er many year s of er osi on,t he r oadway i s sever al f eet l ower
t han i t s or i gi nal el evat i on. (Cour t esy of Mar y O’ Nei l l ,Of f i ce of
Remot e Sensi ng, Sout h Dakot a St at e Uni ver si t y)
Thi s wel l -t r avel ed r oad i n Ecuador per f or ms
wel l i n a r egi on t hat r ecei ves appr oxi mat el y
200 i nches aver age annual r ai nf al l .
(Cour t esy of Ron Ander son, Tensar
Ear t h Technol ogi es, I nc.,USA)
t he roadw ay si nce budget s of t en do not
al l ow f or t he use of ext ra equi pment
and manpow er on gravel roads.
The recommended shape of each part
of t he cross sect i on w i l l be di scussed i n
det ai l l at er i n t hi s manual .When a
gravel road i s mai nt ai ned properl y, i t
w i l l serve l ow vol ume t raf f i c w el l .
Unf ort unat el y, most gravel roads w i l l
f ai l w hen exposed t o heavy haul s even
w hen shaped properl y. Thi s i s due t o
w eak subgrade st rengt h and margi nal
gravel dept hs w hi ch are of t en probl ems
w i t h gravel roads. The l ow vol ume of
normal t raf f i c does not w arrant recon -
st ruct i on t o a hi gher st andard. How ever,
i mproper mai nt enance can al so l ead
t o very qui ck det eri orat i on of a gravel
road, especi al l y i n w et w eat her. The
mai nt enance equi pment operat ors must
al w ays w ork at mai nt ai ni ng t he proper
crow n and shape.
An exampl e of a wel l shaped gr avel r oad shoul der t hat sl opes away f r om t he dr i vi ng sur f ace
and dr ai ns wat er t o t he i nsl ope and di t ch.
Exampl e of a gr avel r oad wi t h good shape of cr oss sect i on. Not i ce cr own i n dr i vi ng sur f ace and
pr oper shape of shoul der and di t ch.
Under st andi ng Road Cr oss Sect i on 3
moi st ure, mat eri al , and subgrade st ab-
i l i t y vary; t heref ore, t he maxi mum speed
f or good mai nt enance can vary.
How ever, i n vi rt ual l y any condi t i on, i t i s
di f f i cul t t o exceed 5 mph and st i l l do a
good j ob.
Mol dboard Angl e
The angl e of t he mol dboard i s al so cri t i -
cal t o good mai nt enance. Thi s angl e i s
f i xed on some gradi ng devi ces, but on
mot orgraders i t can be easi l y adj ust ed.
It i s i mport ant t o keep t he angl e some-
w here bet w een 30 and 45 degrees. It i s
a chal l enge t o recover l oose aggregat e
T
he pri mary f ocus of t hi s sect i on
w i l l be t he use of t he mot orgrader
f or gravel road mai nt enance. How ever,
t here are ot her devi ces used f or t he
j ob t hat can w ork w el l . Front or rear
mount ed gradi ng at t achment s f or
t ract ors, road rakes, and ot her devi ces
of vari ous desi gns are used i n some
areas of t he count ry. The pri nci pl es of
shapi ng are t he same no mat t er w hat
machi ne i s used.
Oper at i ng Speed
Operat i ng speed i n bl adi ng operat i ons
must not be excessi ve. Thi s has caused
probl ems on many roads. It i s vi rt ual l y
i mpossi bl e t o do good w ork above a
t op speed of 3 t o 5 mph.When t he
machi ne begi ns t o “ l ope” or bounce,
i t w i l l cut depressi ons and l eave ri dges
i n t he road surf ace. Condi t i ons i ncl udi ng
Rout i ne Shapi ng Pri nci pl es
Gr ader oper at or cl eani ng a di t ch and r est or i ng
shape t o t he f or esl ope and backsl ope.
The di st or t i on t hat was cut i nt o t hi s r oad
sur f ace i s t he r esul t of oper at i ng a mot or gr ader
t oo f ast .The angl e of t he depr essi ons whi ch
mat ch t he angl e of t he mol dboar d r eveal t hi s.
Thi s i s not t he same as “ washboar di ng ,” whi ch
has di f f er ent causes.
4 Rout i ne Shapi ng Pr i nci pl es
Thi s i s an exampl e of poor use of t he gr ader.
The mol dboar d i s pi t ched back t oo f ar and i s
not angl ed enough.Not i ce t he gr avel bui l ds up
and does not f al l f or war d t o gi ve a good mi xi ng
act i on.Al so, t he l oss of mat er i al f r om t he t oe
of t he mol dboar d wi l l cr eat e a hi gh shoul der,
whi ch dest r oys good dr ai nage acr oss t he
shoul der t o t he di t ch.
Thi s i s t he ot her ext r eme of pi t chi ng t he
mol dboar d t oo f ar f or war d.The mat er i al wi l l not
rol l acr oss t he f ace of t he mol dboar d and does
not mi x.In addi t i on t o t hi s, t he cut t i ng edge wi l l
not easi l y penet r at e a har d sur f ace, maki ng i t
har d t o t r i m out even l i ght depr essi ons i n t he
r oad sur f ace. It si mpl y t ends t o ski p al ong t he
sur f ace wi t h no r eal benef i t .
Mol dboar d pi t ch or “ t i l t ” r ef er s t o how much t he
mol dboar d i s t i pped f or war d or backwar d.The
r i ght pi t ch r anges f r om aggr essi ve cut t i ng (1), t o
spr eadi ng (2),t o l i ght bl adi ng or dr aggi ng act i on
(3) f or mai nt enance of gr avel r oads.
Rout i ne Shapi ng Pr i nci pl es 5
1
2 3
Not i ce t hese exampl es of good pi t ch and angl e. The gr avel
f al l s f or war d and moves acr oss t he mol dboar d ver y wel l .
The cut t i ng edge i s cl ose t o ver t i cal f r om t he r oad sur f ace,
whi ch makes a ni ce l i ght t r i mmi ng act i on f or r out i ne
mai nt enance, and t he angl e i s good,not al l owi ng
mat er i al t o spi l l f r om t he t oe of t he mol dboar d.
f rom t he shoul der of t he roadw ay w i t h-
out spi l l i ng mat eri al around t he l eadi ng
edge (t oe) of t he mol dboard. Operat i ng
w i t hout enough angl e i s a pri mary
cause of t hi s spi l l i ng.
Mol dboar d Pi t ch
Al ong w i t h correct angl e, i t i s i mport ant
t o underst and proper pi t ch or “ t i l t ” of a
mol dboard. If t he mol dboard i s pi t ched
back t oo f ar, t he mat eri al w i l l t end t o
bui l d up i n f ront of t he mol dboard and
w i l l not f al l f orw ard and move al ong t o
t he di scharge end of t he bl ade. Thi s al so
causes excess mat eri al l oss f rom t he t oe
of t he mol dboard.It al so reduces t he
mi xi ng act i on t hat i s desi rabl e w hen
recoveri ng mat eri al f rom t he shoul der
and movi ng i t across t he roadw ay, l evel -
i ng and smoot hi ng i t i n t he process. Thi s
mi xi ng act i on i s part of rout i ne mai nt e-
nance. Traf f i c t ends t o l oosen mat eri al
f rom t he road surf ace and di spl ace i t t o
t he shoul der area as w el l as bet w een
t he w heel t racks. The st one w i l l t end t o
separat e f rom t he sand and t he f i ne-
si zed mat eri al .At t he same t i me, smal l
pot hol es and an uneven surf ace w i l l
devel op. It i s t he j ob of t he mai nt enance
operat or t o recover t he mat eri al , mi x i t
agai n as i t rol l s al ong t he f ace of t he
mol dboard and rest ore good surf ace
shape.
6 Rout i ne Shapi ng Pr i nci pl es
Rout i ne Shapi ng Pr i nci pl es 7
Figure 2:Illustration of an articulated motorgrader. (An illustration showing additional components of a motorgrader and
recommended walk-around checks is shown in Appendix E.)
Mot or gr ader St abi l i t y
It can somet i mes be hard t o keep a
machi ne st abl e, especi al l y w hi l e carry-
i ng a l i ght l oad of mat eri al . Count er-
act i ng machi ne bounce or “ l opi ng”
requi res experi ence i n know i ng t he
cause and t hen f i ndi ng a sol ut i on.If
a mot orgrader begi ns t o rock f rom si de
t o si de — of t en cal l ed “ duck w al ki ng”
i n t he f i el d — i t i s usual l y caused by
bl ade angl e t hat cl osel y mat ches t he
angl e f rom corner t o corner of t he t i res
on t he rear t andems. The sol ut i on i s
general l y t o st op, change angl e sl i ght l y
on t he mol dboard and sl ow l y resume
bl adi ng. Si mpl y reduci ng speed w i l l
of t en el i mi nat e t he l opi ng ef f ect of a
machi ne. Experi ment i ng w i t h di f f erent
t i re i nf l at i on pressures can al so hel p
st abi l i ze a machi ne as w el l as l eani ng
t he f ront w heel s i n t he di rect i on t hat
mat eri al i s bei ng moved. Fi l l i ng t i res
w i t h l i qui d bal l ast t o about 70%
capaci t y i s somet i mes done t o i ncrease
t ract i on, w ei ght and st abi l i t y of t he
grader. The bal l ast of t en used i s a
sol ut i on of cal ci um chl ori de and w at er.
St abi l i t y probl ems t hat are const ant and
severe shoul d be brought t o t he at t en-
t i on of your equi pment deal er and/or
t i re suppl i er.
Ar t i cul at i on
Vi rt ual l y al l modern mot orgraders are
equi pped w i t h f rame art i cul at i on. It can
be an advant age t o sl i ght l y art i cul at e
t he machi ne t o st abi l i ze i t even i n a
common mai nt enance operat i on.
If a mai nt enance wi ndr ow i s al l owed
by pol i cy and used, t r y t o keep i t as
l i ght as possi bl e. These exampl es
show a l i ght wi ndr ow bei ng pl aced
at t he edge of t he r oadway and an
obvi ousl y excessi ve wi ndr ow bei ng
l ef t at t he r oadsi de. In t he l at t er case,
mul t i pl e passes shoul d have been
made t o wor k out t he veget at i on
and spr ead mor e of t he mat er i al
on t he r oadway, or per haps some
mechani cal means of br eaki ng up
t he l umps of sod such as a di sk
shoul d have been used t o al l ow
mor e of t he mat er i al t o be
spr ead on t he r oadway.
8 Rout i ne Shapi ng Pr i nci pl es
accept ed pract i ce i n some regi ons. In
ot hers, i t i s di sapproved of and depart -
ment s may even have pol i ci es f orbi d-
di ng w i ndrow s. Thi s i s of t en t rue i n
regi ons w i t h narrow ri ght -of -w ays and
narrow dri vi ng surf aces. Operat ors
shoul d f ol l ow depart ment pol i cy at al l
t i mes. For t hose w ho al l ow t he use of
w i ndrow s, i t i s very i mport ant t o keep
t hem t o a mi ni mum. It can be very di f f i -
Wi ndr ows
In some areas of t he count ry, part i cul ar -
l y ari d or semi ari d regi ons, i t i s common
t o l eave a smal l mai nt enance w i ndrow,
somet i mes ref erred t o as an i nvent ory
w i ndrow. Thi s l eaves a smal l amount of
mat eri al t o be pi cked up next t i me and
w orked back across t he road f or f i l l i ng
smal l depressi ons. Thi s i s a commonl y
cul t t o def i ne w hat i s accept abl e and
w hat i s an excessi ve w i ndrow . The
w i ndrow shoul d al so be pl aced near t he
edge of t he roadw ay t o al l ow as great
a w i dt h f or t ravel as possi bl e. In t he
absence of a pol i cy on t hi s mat t er, be
aw are of t he commonl y accept ed prac -
t i ces i n your regi on and t ry t o devi at e
as l i t t l e as possi bl e.
E
st abl i shi ng proper crow n i n t he
gravel surf ace probabl y generat es
more cont roversy t han any ot her aspect
of good mai nt enance. How much crow n
i s enough? Can one get t oo much?
What i s a recommended crow n? These
are f requent l y asked quest i ons by l ocal
of f i ci al s, t he t ravel i ng publ i c, and equi p-
ment operat ors.
Fi rst of al l ,probl ems devel op qui ckl y
w hen a gravel road has no crow n.
Wat er w i l l qui ckl y col l ect on t he road
surf ace duri ng a rai n and w i l l sof t en t he
crust . Thi s w i l l l ead t o rut t i ng w hi ch can
become severe i f t he subgrade al so
begi ns t o sof t en. Even i f t he subgrade
remai ns f i rm, t raf f i c w i l l qui ckl y pound
out smal l er depressi ons i n t he road
w here w at er col l ect s and t he road w i l l
devel op pot hol es. A properl y drai ned
gravel road shoul d have crow n.
Yet an operat or can al so bui l d t oo much
crow n i nt o t he road surf ace. Thi s can
l ead t o an unsaf e condi t i on i n w hi ch
t he dri vi ng publ i c does not f eel comf ort -
abl e st ayi ng “ i n t hei r l ane” or si mpl y
st ayi ng on t he ri ght si de of t he road.
Because of t he excessi ve crow n,dri vers
begi n t o f eel a sl i ght l oss of cont rol of
t he vehi cl e as i t w ant s t o sl i de t ow ards
t he shoul der. There i s addi t i onal ri sk
dri vi ng on gravel roads w i t h excessi ve
crow n i n regi ons t hat experi ence snow
and i ce cover. For t hese reasons dri vers
w i l l t end t o dri ve ri ght dow n t he mi ddl e
of t he road regardl ess of how w i de i t i s.
Crown
A r oad t hat l acks good cr own.Ther e i s al so cent er l i ne cor r ugat i on (washboar di ng),a pr obl em
t hat wi l l gr ow wor se when t her e i s i nadequat e cr own.
A gr avel r oad wi t h a 26-f oot dr i vi ng sur f ace, yet ever yone dr i ves i n t he mi ddl e. The pr i mar y r ea-
son i s excessi ve cr own.
Cr own 9
Pr obl ems f r om cent er wear i n cut t i ng edge.
Thi s r oad l ocat ed i n New Zeal and does not have adequat e cr own t o dr ai n wat er t o t he r oadsi de.
Consequent l y, pot hol es f or m. (Cour t esy of Ken Skor set h,SD LTAP)
10 Cr own
What t hen i s recommended crow n?
Recommendat i ons f rom supervi sors
and ski l l ed operat ors across t he count ry
i ndi cat e t hat at l east
1
/2 i nch of crow n
per f oot (approxi mat el y 4%) on t he
cross sl ope i s i deal . It i s al so recogni zed
t hat i t i s vi rt ual l y i mpossi bl e f or any
operat or t o mai nt ai n an absol ut el y
uni f orm crow n. How ever, t ry t o devi at e
as l i t t l e as possi bl e. There are crow n
gauges avai l abl e w hi ch can be used t o
det ermi ne exi st i ng crow n. There are
al so very sophi st i cat ed el ect roni c sl ope
cont rol s avai l abl e f or graders. These
are f ound more of t en i n const ruct i on
operat i ons t han i n mai nt enance, but
cert ai nl y can be used f or mai nt enance.
There i s one f urt her probl em w i t h
crow n t hat needs t o be di scussed.
The i deal shape i s a st rai ght l i ne f rom
t he shoul der up t o t he cent erl i ne of
t he road. Thi s gi ves t he road t he same
shape as t he roof of a house, of t en
ref erred t o as a f l at “ A” shape. How ever,
t hi s shape can somet i mes become
rounded. The engi neeri ng t erm f or t hi s
i s “ parabol i c crow n.” Thi s i s vi rt ual l y
al w ays a probl em. The mi ddl e port i on
of t he road w i l l have consi derabl y l ess
crow n t han t he out er edges. Wat er w i l l
not drai n f rom t he mi ddl e and pot hol es
and rut s w i l l f orm. The great est cause
of parabol i c crow n i s excess w ear at
t he cent er of t he cut t i ng edge. Thi s i s
normal w ear and w i l l vary w i t h t ypes
of gravel , w i dt h of road, w heel pat h
l ocat i on and ot her f act ors. A good
operat or w i l l make an ef f ort t o avoi d
t he parabol i c shape on a roadw ay by
keepi ng t he cut t i ng edge st rai ght .
Roadway wi t h par abol i c cr own.The out er edge of t he r oad sl opes t oo much. Gougi ng causes
hi gh shoul der, and cent er 1/3 of t he r oad t ends t o be f l at .
Thi s r oad i n New Zeal and per f or ms r emar kabl y wel l because of good cr own and good gr avel
qual i t y i n a r egi on t hat r ecei ves near l y 150 i nches of moi st ur e a year ! (Cour t esy of Ken Skor set h,
SD LTAP)
Cr own 11
A si mpl e met hod i s t o use a cut t i ng
t orch and st rai ght en t he cut t i ng edge
w henever
1
/ 2 t o
3
/4 i nch or more of
cent er w ear exi st s. Anot her met hod
i s t o use a t hi cker, harder sect i on of
cut t i ng edge i n t he mi ddl e of t he
mol dboard t o resi st w ear. Thi s w i l l
ret ard excess cent er w ear, but
general l y w i l l not el i mi nat e i t .
Anot her opt i on i s t o use t he modern
carbi de-t i pped bi t s on t he cut t i ng
edge. These are ext remel y w ear -
resi st ant and dramat i cal l y reduce
cent er w ear. There are al so carbi de
i nsert or carbi de-f aced cut t i ng edges
t hat are very w ear-resi st ant .
In summary, t he recommended
crow n i s a st rai ght l i ne f rom t he
shoul der t o t he cent erl i ne t hat ri ses
approxi mat el y
1
/ 2 i nch per f oot
(or approxi mat el y 4%).
The phot os above and bel ow show good exampl es of gr avel shoul der s t hat mat ch t he edge of
t he r oadway ver y wel l and dr ai n wat er t o t he di t ch.
12 Road Shoul der
T
he road shoul der serves several
essent i al f unct i ons. It i s t here t o
support t he edge of t he t ravel ed port i on
of t he roadw ay. But anot her i mport ant
f unct i on i s t o provi de a saf et y area f or
dri vers t o regai n cont rol of vehi cl es i f
f orced t o l eave t he road surf ace. Yet
anot her i mport ant f unct i on i s t o carry
w at er f urt her aw ay f rom t he road
surf ace t o t he f oresl ope and di t ch.
In order f or t he shoul der t o perf orm
al l of t hese f unct i ons, i t s shape i s
cri t i cal . Fi rst of al l , t he shoul der shoul d
meet t he edge of t he roadw ay at t he
same el evat i on. In ot her w ords, t he
shoul der shoul d be no hi gher or no
l ow er t han t he edge of t he roadw ay.
By mai nt ai ni ng t hi s shape, t he l ow
shoul der or drop-of f i s el i mi nat ed
w hi ch i s a saf et y hazard and al so
reduces roadw ay edge support .
But t he ot her ext reme, w hi ch i s a
hi gh shoul der, shoul d al so be avoi ded.
Thi s w i l l be di scussed l at er.
It i s al so recogni zed t hat gravel roads
i n some regi ons, part i cul arl y t hose w i t h
very narrow ri ght -of -w ays, have very
l i t t l e shoul der area. In some cases, t he
edge of roadw ay i s act ual l y t he begi n-
ni ng of t he f oresl ope dow n t o t he di t ch.
But here agai n, i t i s i mport ant t hat
t here i s not a st eep drop-of f or a ri dge
of soi l t o bl ock drai nage. Mai nt ai ni ng
shoul ders i s a cri t i cal part of gravel
road mai nt enance.
Road Shoul der
Hi gh Shoul der s
(Secondar y Di t ches)
Thi s probl em can be seen al ong
gravel roads al most anyw here
peopl e t ravel . There are many sl ang
t erms used i n t he f i el d such as “ berms”
or “ curbs.” The engi neeri ng t erm f or
t hi s condi t i on i s “ secondary di t ch” and
i t i s a good descri pt i on of t he condi t i on.
When a gravel road devel ops a hi gh
shoul der, i t dest roys t he drai nage of
w at er di rect l y f rom t he surf ace t o t he
real di t ch. Thi s causes several probl ems.
In rel at i vel y l evel t errai n,t he w at er
col l ect s here and seeps i nt o t he sub-
grade, of t en causi ng t he w hol e roadw ay
t o sof t en. In rol l i ng and rugged t errai n,
t he w at er qui ckl y f l ow s dow nhi l l al ong
t he secondary di t ch,of t en erodi ng aw ay
a l arge amount of gravel and even
erodi ng i nt o t he subgrade. Thi s al so
creat es a seri ous saf et y hazard. There
are many reasons t o w ork hard t o
el i mi nat e secondary di t ches.
A common condi t i on al ong t he edge of many
gr avel r oads:t he secondar y di t ch.
Secondar y di t ch over si x i nches deep.
Road Shoul der 13
Her e, wat er has r un down a secondar y di t ch
or hi gh shoul der and t hen er oded t hr ough
t he shoul der mat er i al at t he bot t om of a hi l l .
Thi s cr eat es a hazar dous condi t i on.
veget at i on on t he shoul der, si mpl y
ext end t he mol dboard out i nt o t he
shoul der mat eri al and begi n t o pul l i t
ont o t he roadw ay. If t he amount of
mat eri al i s l i ght , you may be abl e t o do
t hi s i n one pass. The mat eri al recovered
i s of t en good gravel t hat needs t o be
ret urned t o t he roadw ay surf ace.
14 Road Shoul der
Causes of Hi gh Shoul der s
What causes secondary di t ches t o f orm?
There are several causes. They can
devel op f rom i mproper mai nt enance
such as l osi ng mat eri al f rom t he t oe of
a grader’ s mol dboard,w hi ch bui l ds up a
hi gh shoul der, or f rom cut t i ng t oo deep
at t he shoul der l i ne w i t h t he t oe of t he
mol dboard. Thi s i s a part i cul ar probl em
w hen t he cut t i ng edge i s not kept
reasonabl y st rai ght . But t here are ot her
causes, such as excessi ve “ w hi p-of f” of
l oose mat eri al f rom f ast t raf f i c,w hi ch
t ends t o bui l d up al ong t he shoul der
l i ne. Al so, heavy l oads on gravel roads
w i t h w eak subgrades can cause t hi s.
When heavy vehi cl es have t o t ravel
near t he shoul der w hi l e meet i ng ot her
vehi cl es, t he roadw ay can rut w hi l e
t he shoul der area shoves upw ard. Yet
anot her cause i s t he bui l dup of sand i n
nort hern regi ons w here w i nt er i ce/snow
cont rol requi res some w i nt er sandi ng
operat i ons on gravel roads. An expert
i n t he f i el d once made t hi s st at ement :
“ It i s di f f i cul t t o compl et el y el i mi nat e
secondary di t ches, but i t pays t o w ork
hard t o keep t hem t o an absol ut e
mi ni mum.” Thi s i s excel l ent advi ce.
The t i me spent i n deal i ng w i t h a hi gh
shoul der (secondary di t ch) w i l l resul t
i n a road t hat i s easi er t o mai nt ai n
af t erw ards. But t he real chal l enge i s
get t i ng t he j ob done.
Recover i ng and
Spr eadi ng on Roadway
If a mot orgrader i s t he onl y pi ece of
equi pment used on t he j ob , general l y
more t han one pass w i l l be requi red t o
recover mat eri al f rom hi gh shoul ders.
It i s w i se t o pl ace st andard MUTCD
w arni ng si gns such as “ Road Work
Ahead” si nce t hi s i s more t han rout i ne
mai nt enance. If t here i s l i t t l e or no
Usi ng gr ader t o r ecover mat er i al f r om a hi gh
shoul der and r est or e cor r ect shape t o t he
shoul der.
A commer ci al l y manuf act ur ed r ock r ak e,
nor mal l y used i n f ar mi ng oper at i ons.
Br eaki ng up Sod
and Veget at i on i n
Recover ed Mat er i al
Qui t e of t en, t he mat eri al pul l ed out
ont o t he roadw ay f rom t he shoul der i s
very hard t o spread because of t he veg-
et at i ve mat eri al i n i t . It w i l l requi re mul -
t i pl e passes w i t h t he grader t o get t he
j ob done. Many agenci es are t urni ng t o
ot her mechani cal means of breaki ng up
t he mat eri al t o make t he road saf e f or
t raf f i c. Thi s can range f rom somet hi ng
as si mpl e as a di sk or drag t o sophi st i -
cat ed pul veri zi ng equi pment .
Wi ndr ow pul ver i zer f abr i cat ed
by t he Hyde Count y Hi ghway
Depar t ment of Hi ghmor e,
Sout h Dakot a.
Road Shoul der 15
A commer ci al l y manuf act ur ed pul ver i zer.
A smal l r ear -mount ed t andem di sk on a mower t r act or.
mat eri al l oose, pul l i t ont o t he roadw ay
and t hen l oad and remove i t . How ever,
t hi s can be very expensi ve. It i s some-
t i mes accept abl e t o pul l t he mat eri al
and cover i t . In several areas of t he
count ry, a met hod cal l ed “ sw eepi ng i t
16 Road Shoul der
under t he carpet ” i s used. The f ol l ow i ng
phot o sequence show s how “ sw eepi ng
i t under t he carpet ” i s done.
Make sure t hat t he soi l s are sui t abl e
t o be used as base mat eri al under t he
edge of roadw ay and shoul der bef ore
doi ng t hi s. If you’ re not absol ut el y sure,
t ry t hi s on a t est sect i on of 1000 f t .
or l ess t o see how i t perf orms. Thi s
met hod w orks best w hen t here i s a l ot
of sandy soi l bot h i n t he subgrade of
t he roadw ay and al so i n t he mat eri al
recovered f rom t he hi gh shoul der . The
sand w i l l be unsui t abl e t o recover and
spread ont o t he roadw ay, but w i l l be
reasonabl y easy t o cut and pl ace under
t he gravel t hat w i l l be pl aced back
over i t . If t he road i s schedul ed t o be
regravel ed, i t i s an excel l ent t i me t o
do shoul der w ork t o get t he roadw ay
back i nt o good shape.
Agai n, t hi s i s much more t han rout i ne
mai nt enance and si gns shoul d be
pl aced t o w arn mot ori st s of roadw ork
bei ng done. A bet t er opt i on w oul d be
t o cl ose t he sect i on of road bei ng
w orked on i f possi bl e.
The exi st ing
secondary di t ch i s
t hen cut sl ight l y
deeper and t he
mat erial i s pl aced
i n t he ro a d w a y.
The wi ndr owed gr avel i s t hen br ought back
over t he r ecover ed mat er i al and t he r oadway
i s r est or ed t o pr oper cr own and shape. The
hi gh shoul der has been el i mi nat ed.
The mater ial f rom t he hi gh shoulder is t hen pull ed i nt o t he cut t hat has just been made.
G e n e r a l l y, t his mat er ial wi ll have t o be worked sever al ti mes wi t h t he gr ader t o break i t up
enough t o spread evenly.
The exi st ing sur f ace
g ravel i s cut l oose
and windrowed t o
t he opposi t e side of
t he ro a d .
Pul l i ng Shoul der s
and Cover i ng
The mat eri al f rom a hi gh shoul der i s
not al w ays sui t abl e t o be reused on
t he roadw ay. It may be best t o cut t he
Not i ce t he dr amat i c di f f er ence i n t he r oad shoul der s shown above and bel ow. It becomes so
much easi er t o r ecover gr avel t hat has dr i f t ed t o t he edge of t he r oadway when t he veget at i on
has been cut cl eanl y. It i s par t i cul ar l y i mpor t ant t o get r i d of t he veget at i on pr i or t o a shoul der-
pul l i ng oper at i on.
Road Shoul der 17
Benef i t of Mowi ng
Any of t he procedures di scussed f or
deal i ng w i t h hi gh shoul ders are much
easi er t o accompl i sh i f a good j ob of
mow i ng i s done i n advance. Thi s i s t rue
even i n rout i ne mai nt enance operat i ons.
When grass or ot her veget at i on grow s
hi gh al ong t he edge of t he roadw ay, i t
becomes di f f i cul t t o mai nt ai n a cl ean,
uni f orm shoul der l i ne. In a survey of
operat ors i n t he st at e of Iow a, mow i ng
t he shoul ders on gravel roads ranked as
one of f our pri mary f unct i ons needed t o
mai nt ai n a good gravel road! (Keepi ng
proper shape, drai nage, and st rai ght
cut t i ng edges w ere t he ot her t hree.)
The f requency of mow i ng depends on
t he regi on of t he count ry and t he cl i -
mat e. How ever, t he cost of mow i ng i s
of t en of f set by reduced cost s of ot her
mai nt enance as w el l as saf er roads.
In nort hern pl ai ns regi ons, t here i s
yet anot her great benef i t t o mow i ng.
By removi ng t he st andi ng veget at i on,
dri f t i ng snow w i l l not be t rapped on
t he roadw ay and snow removal cost s
can be drast i cal l y reduced. The best
equi pment f or t hi s i s rot ary or f l ai l
mow ers, w hi ch do a good j ob of
shreddi ng t he veget at i on and are
not as easi l y damaged or pl ugged
by roadsi de t rash.
G
ravel roads are general l y mai n -
t ai ned by rout i ne bl adi ng and
addi ng gravel as needed ei t her by
“ spot gravel i ng” or regravel i ng ent i re
sect i ons. How ever, al most any gravel
road w i l l gradual l y begi n t o show di s-
t ress t hat requi res more t han rout i ne
mai nt enance t o correct . The most com-
mon probl ems t hat devel op are
“ berms” or secondary di t ches t hat bui l d
up al ong t he shoul der l i ne and t he shi f t -
i ng of mat eri al f rom t he surf ace t o t he
shoul der area and even ont o t he i nsl ope
of t he grade. Thi s comes f rom gravel
bei ng di spl aced by t raf f i c, w i nt er pl ow -
i ng operat i ons, erosi on of mat eri al dur -
i ng heavy rai n and somet i mes f rom
poor rout i ne bl adi ng t echni ques. Thi s
of t en causes maj or probl ems w i t h
drai nage. At cert ai n i nt erval s, vi rt ual l y
every gravel road requi res some maj or
rehabi l i t at i on. (35, 36)
Reshapi ng Sur f ace
and Shoul der
These can usual l y be correct ed w i t h
t he mot orgrader al one. Spri ng i s t he
best t i me f or t hi s as t here i s mi ni mal
veget at i ve grow t h and moi st ure i s
present . The reshapi ng of t he dri vi ng
surf ace and t he road shoul der can be
done by cut t i ng mat eri al w i t h t he
mot orgrader and rel ayi ng i t t o t he
proper shape and crow n.If possi bl e,
t he use of a rol l er f or compact i on w i l l
great l y i mprove t he f i ni shed surf ace.
Thi s w i l l l eave a denser, st ronger,
smoot her surf ace t hat w i l l be easi er
t o mai nt ai n.
Reshapi ng Ent i r e
Cr oss Sect i on
Severe rut t i ng,l oss of crow n, gravel
l oss and deep secondary di t ches —
a combi nat i on of any t w o or more of
t hese cal l s f or a maj or reshapi ng. Thi s
requi res a much great er ef f ort .It of t en
occurs af t er a gravel road has been
subj ect ed t o an unusual l y heavy haul .
Thi s w i l l be w orse i f a heavy haul
occurs duri ng w et w eat her.
Maj or reshapi ng of t en has t o be done
on t he ent i re cross sect i on and i t may
have t o be done i mmedi at el y regardl ess
of t he veget at i ve grow t h. Mot orgraders,
di sks, pul veri zers/mi xers and rol l ers are
of t en needed. These are not al w ays
avai l abl e, but cert ai nl y make t he j ob
easi er. The f i el d supervi sor’ s know l edge
and t he operat or’ s ski l l i n know i ng how
t o rebui l d t he cross sect i on becomes
very i mport ant . These proj ect s sel dom
have t he benef i t of much pl anni ng or
t echni cal assi st ance. There i s sel dom
any surveyi ng or st aki ng done. But i t i s
very i mport ant t o rebui l d a uni f orm
cross sect i on and pay at t ent i on t o
rest ori ng good drai nage. Onl y af t er t hi s
i s done — and done correct l y — shoul d
good surf ace gravel be repl aced.
Gravel Road Rehabi l i t at i on
Thi s gr avel r oad shows sever e di st r ess af t er bei ng subj ect ed t o a heavy haul f r om t r ucks haul i ng
wheat t o a gr ai n el evat or. The pr obl em was made wor se by an unusual l y wet season.
18 Gr avel Road Rehabi l i t at i on
Gr avel Road Rehabi l i t at i on 19
Er osi on Cont r ol
Havi ng di scussed t he i mport ance
of reshapi ng a gravel road, t here i s
anot her i ssue t hat must be addressed.
When maj or reshapi ng i s done out -
si de of t he t ravel ed w ay, veget at i on
and ground cover w i l l obvi ousl y be
di st urbed. Thi s can l ead t o erosi on of
soi l . The probl em w i l l vary dependi ng
on t he regi on. In ari d and semi -ari d
areas, t he probl em i s smal l or non-
exi st ent .Areas w hi ch recei ve f requent
rai ns, have rol l i ng or rugged t errai n,
and have hi ghl y erodi bl e soi l s, are
part i cul arl y vul nerabl e. When veget at i ve
cover i s di st urbed,t here are probl ems
t hat can ari se. Whi l e t ryi ng t o el i mi nat e
probl ems, new ones can be creat ed
such as cl ogged cul vert s and bl ocked
di t ches, pol l ut i on of st reams and l akes,
and eroded sl opes w hi ch can short en
t he l i f e of i mprovement s. You may be
f ound i n vi ol at i on of st at e and f ederal
regul at i ons. Damage cl ai ms and l aw -
sui t s may be f i l ed.
The sol ut i on t o t hi s i ssue i s not t o
cancel pl ans f or gravel road i mprove-
ment ,but t o pl an your w ork caref ul l y
and use met hods of reduci ng or
el i mi nat i ng erosi on. Here are some
t hi ngs t o consi der:
• Some regi ons have cert ai n t i mes i n
t he year w hen f requent and heavy
rai nf al l can be expect ed. Try t o avoi d
maj or reshape w ork duri ng t hose
peri ods of t i me.
• Keep di st urbed areas smal l . The
more eart h you di st urb, t he great er
w i l l be t he ri sk of soi l erosi on. Set
w ork boundari es and don’ t l et w ork
crew s get out si de of t hem.
• Consi der st abi l i zat i on of di st urbed
areas. Si l t f ences, mul chi ng, erosi on
cont rol bl anket s and ot her means
shoul d be consi dered.
• Keep w at er vel oci t y l ow. Removi ng
veget at i ve cover and t opsoi l general l y
i ncreases t he amount and speed of
runof f. Keep sl opes as shal l ow or
gent l e as possi bl e. Keep di t ch sl ope
as gent l e as possi bl e. Short en
drai nage runs and w ork t o get
veget at i ve cover reest abl i shed
as soon as possi bl e af t er w ork
i s f i ni shed.
• Keep sedi ment w i t hi n w ork bound-
ari es. Sedi ment can be ret ai ned by
f i l t eri ng w at er as i t f l ow s (as t hrough
a si l t f ence), and di t ch checks w i l l
ret ai n di rt y runof f w at er f or a peri od
of t i me unt i l t he soi l part i cl es set t l e
out .
• Inspect recent w ork. Thi s i s vi t al t o
make sure channel s haven’ t f ormed
i n di t ch bot t oms or on sl opes, or
around and under cont rol s t hat
w ere used. Be part i cul arl y vi gi l ant
af t er heavy rai ns.
The same r oad as shown on t he pr evi ous page appr oxi mat el y t hr ee mont hs af t er t he heavy haul
was f i ni shed.The r oad was r est or ed t o r emar kabl y good shape si mpl y wi t h t he use of mot or-
gr ader s doi ng a compl et e r eshapi ng of t he i nsl ope, shoul der and sur f ace wi t h a smal l amount
of sur f ace gr avel added.
T
here are speci al si t uat i ons i n gravel
road mai nt enance t hat shoul d be
addressed. These are common t o nearl y
al l gravel roads and i t i s i mport ant t o
underst and how t o deal w i t h t hem.
These concerns are uni que t o gravel
roads and pract i cal sol ut i ons are
recommended f or each of t hese.
Deal i ng wi t h Cor r ugat i on
The t echni cal t erm i s corrugat i on, but
vi rt ual l y everyone i n t he f i el d ref ers t o
t he probl em as w ashboardi ng. Thi s
probl em can bri ng more compl ai nt s
t han any ot her. It i s very annoyi ng t o
t he dri ver and, w hen i t becomes severe,
can l ead t o l oss of vehi cl e cont rol .
It i s i mpossi bl e t o deal ef f ect i vel y w i t h
t hi s probl em i f you do not underst and
t he causes. Mot orgraders are of t en
bl amed, but i n real i t y, t hey sel dom
cause t he probl em.
There are t hree pri mary causes: t he
dri vi ng habi t s of peopl e, l ack of moi s-
t ure, and poor qual i t y of gravel . Dri vi ng
habi t s are cl earl y evi dent w hen you
observe w ashboardi ng at i nt ersect i ons,
goi ng up or dow n st eep hi l l s, l eadi ng
i nt o or out of sharp curves and some-
t i mes even near dri vew ays. These are al l
pl aces w here dri vers t end t o accel erat e
hard or brake aggressi vel y. Thi s i s a
maj or cause of w ashboardi ng. (24, 33,
35, 36)
Lack of moi st ure w i l l encourage w ash -
board f ormat i on and prol onged dry
w eat her can real l y aggravat e t he
probl em. Thi s i s because t he crust t hat
Areas of Concern
Thi s t ype of cor r ugat i on,“ washboar di ng,” i s caused by l ack of moi st ure, har d accel er at i on,
aggr essi ve br aki ng, and poor qual i t y gr avel .
Thi s t ype of washboar di ng appear s at an angl e acr oss t he r oadway wi t h r i dges and depr essi ons
t wo t o t hr ee f eet apar t .It i s caused by excess gr ader speed.
20 Ar eas of Concer n
Ar eas of Concer n 21
It i s a good pr act i ce t o l oosen,mi x, r eshape gr avel i n a washboar d-pr one ar ea whi l e i t i s moi st .
Anot her washboar d-pr one ar ea i s at t he t r ansi t i on f r om paved t o gr avel sect i ons as shown i n
t hi s phot o.
An ef f ect i ve t ool f or deal i ng wi t h washboar d ar eas i s t he f r ont dozer equi pped wi t h car bi de bi t s.
f orms on t he surf ace of a good gravel
road w i l l t end t o l oosen i n dry w eat her.
Thi s al l ow s t he st one and sand-si zed
part i cl es of gravel t o “ f l oat ” and t he
mat eri al can easi l y al i gn i t sel f i nt o
t he w ashboard pat t ern under t raf f i c.
The t w o causes j ust ment i oned are
compl et el y out of t he cont rol of gravel
mai nt enance operat ors and managers.
The t hi rd pri mary cause — t he qual i t y
of t he gravel — i s t he cause w e need
t o concent rat e on. Good qual i t y sur-
f ace gravel i s t horoughl y di scussed
i n Sect i on II of t hi s manual . Si mpl y
put , good gravel must have t he ri ght
bl end of st one, sand, and f i nes. The
st one shoul d be f ract ured and t he
f i ne-si zed part i cl es shoul d have a
bi ndi ng charact eri st i c, t echni cal l y
cal l ed “ pl ast i ci t y.” Thi s t ype of gravel
resi st s w ashboardi ng. How ever, t he
mai nt enance operat ors al so must do
t hei r part .
Vi rt ual l y any gravel w i l l devel op some
washboard areas under t raf f i c. The key
f or t he mai nt enance operat or i s t o
st ri ve t o keep t he mat eri al bl ended.
In dry condi t i ons, t he operat or can
onl y smoot h t he road t emporari l y.
When moi st ure i s present , i t pays
t o qui ckl y get out and rew ork t hese
areas. The mat eri al shoul d be cut t o
a dept h of one i nch or more bel ow
t he depressi ons, mi xed and rel ayed t o
t he proper shape. If t i me al l ow s, usi ng
t he machi ne t o appl y w heel compact i on
t o mat eri al w i l l hel p ref orm t he crust .
If possi bl e, use of a rol l er w i l l i mprove
t he compact i on.
Wi t h t he best of mai nt enance, wash-
boardi ng can never be compl et el y el i mi-
nat ed.How ever, t he key t o reduci ng i t i s
t o w ork hard at obt ai ni ng qual i t y gravel
w i t h a good bi ndi ng charact eri st i c. The
operat or can t hen reshape t roubl e spot s
w hen moi st ure i s present and most
roads w i l l perf orm qui t e w el l .
If a mot orgrader causes w ashboardi ng,
i t i s al most al w ays t he resul t of runni ng
at t oo great a speed. The ri dges and
depressi ons w i l l be spaced f urt her
apart .
The sol ut i on t o t he probl em i s si mpl e
— reduce gradi ng speed! Anot her
probl em can be i mproper t i re i nf l at i on
pressure or def ect i ve t i res. Thi s w i l l
cause a mot orgrader t o bounce or ot h-
erw i se operat e i n an unst abl e manner.
Int er sect i ons
There i s one i mport ant t hi ng t o under-
st and i n know i ng how t o shape a gravel
i nt ersect i on: i s i t a cont rol l ed or uncon-
t rol l ed i nt ersect i on? Thi s means: does
t raf f i c have t o st op or yi el d f rom si de
roads? If so, i t i s a cont rol l ed i nt ersec-
t i on as show n i n Fi gure 3. The pri mary
road on w hi ch t raf f i c passes t hrough
shoul d ret ai n i t s crow n and t he i nt er-
sect i ng roads shoul d have crow n gradu-
al l y el i mi nat ed begi nni ng approxi mat el y
100 f eet bef ore t he i nt ersect i on.At t he
poi nt of i nt ersect i on, t he si de roads are
vi rt ual l y f l at t o mat ch t he pri mary road.
When t he i nt ersect i on i s uncont rol l ed
as show n i n Fi gure 4,t he roads shoul d
al l have t he crow n gradual l y el i mi nat ed
begi nni ng approxi mat el y 100 f eet f rom
t he i nt ersect i on. The i nt ersect i on i t sel f
becomes vi rt ual l y f l at , al l ow i ng vehi cl es
t o pass t hrough w i t hout f eel i ng a
not i ceabl e hump or di p f rom any
di rect i on. Be caref ul not t o mak e
t he i nt ersect i on l ow er so t hat w at er
col l ect s t here.
Figure 3: Proper shape
of a controlled intersection.
Notice through-road retains
crown;side roads which
have stop or yield signs
are shaped to match the
edge of through road.
Figure 4: Proper shape of
an uncontrolled intersection.
Eliminate crown from all
directions approaching the
intersection.
22 Ar eas of Concer n
Ar eas of Concer n 23
Int er sect i ons wi t h
Paved Roads
The rul e f or shapi ng t hese i nt ersect i ons
i s al w ays t he same. Begi n t o el i mi nat e
crow n on t he gravel road approxi mat el y
100 f eet f rom t he edge of t he pavement .
At t he i nt ersect i ng poi nt , t he gravel
shoul d mat ch t he paved surf ace. Thi s
requi res cont i nual at t ent i on si nce pot -
hol es can easi l y devel op at t he edge of
pavement . How ever, be caref ul not t o
push gravel out ont o t he pavement
si nce t hi s causes a dangerous l oss of
ski d resi st ance on t he pavement .(35,
36) The t echni que of “ backdraggi ng” i s
usef ul i n t hese operat i ons. In order t o
f i l l a pot hol e at t he edge of pavement ,
ext ra mat eri al may spi l l ont o t he pave-
ment . Si mpl y pi ck up t he mol dboard and
set i t dow n i n f ront of t he mat eri al , t hen
back up and spread t he excess back on
t he gravel road.
Figure 5: Illustration of a gravel road inter-
secting a paved road. Gradually eliminate
the crown on the gravel road to match the
edge of the pavement.
Hand wor k wi t h a shovel i s necessar y
at t i mes t o compl ement gr ader wor k.
The gr ader must f i l l pot hol es and depr essi ons
f or med near t he br i dge appr oach.
Ni ce j ob of bl ade wor k t o shape r oad t o mat ch
br i dge deck.
The t echni que of backdr aggi ng
can save t i me.
Br i dge Appr oaches
Once agai n, t he rul e f or shapi ng a
bri dge approach i s al w ays t he same.
Approxi mat el y 100 f eet f rom t he bri dge,
begi n t o gradual l y t ake t he crow n out
of t he gravel road so t hat you can
mat ch t he bri dge deck as cl osel y as
possi bl e. Pot hol es can easi l y f orm at
t he edge of t he deck. Keep t hem f i l l ed,
but don’ t push gravel ont o t he deck.
(35, 36)
24 Ar eas of Concer n
Ar eas of Concer n 25
Super el evat i on at Cur ves
Thi s i s one of t he bi ggest chal l enges i n
gravel road mai nt enance and a si t ua-
t i on t hat i s not underst ood very w el l by
many operat ors. Thi s i s somet i mes
cal l ed “ banki ng a curve” i n t he f i el d.
The out er edge of t he roadw ay i s hi gher
t han t he i nsi de edge and t he road sur-
f ace i s shaped st rai ght f rom t he upper
t o t he l ow er edge.
Once agai n, as t he operat or approaches
a curve, adj ust ment s shoul d be made
w i t h t he bl ade t o t ake out t he normal
crow n and begi n t o t ransi t i on i nt o a
st rai ght , superel evat ed surf ace. Thi s
shape shoul d be mai nt ai ned uni f orml y
t hroughout t he curve. A gent l e t ransi -
t i on i s t hen made made at t he ot her
end back t o a normal crow ned road
surf ace w hen you are once agai n on
Thi s phot o shows l ack of super el evat i on whi ch can l ead t o acci dent s.
Figure 6: Illustration of the transition from a normal crown to the superelevated
shape needed in a curve.
a st rai ght sect i on of road. Thi s requi res
const ant at t ent i on duri ng each mai nt e-
nance pass over t he road. Traf f i c w i l l
t end t o di spl ace t he gravel t ow ards t he
upper end of t he road and t he i nsi de of
t he curve w i l l become l ow er . Curves can
very easi l y go out of proper shape. (1, 5,
7, 21, 24, 29, 36)
Thi s super el evat ed r oad
sect i on makes dr i vi ng saf er.
Thi s r oad i n Ecuador has
excel l ent super el evat i on i n
t he cur ve. It al so has good
shoul der dr ai nage and di t ch-
es on bot h si des of t he r oad.
(Cour t esy of Ron Ander son,
Tensar Ear t h Technol ogi es,
I nc.,USA)
The correct amount of sl ope or “ bank -
i ng” of a curve can onl y be det ermi ned
by engi neeri ng anal ysi s. There i s al so
a devi ce avai l abl e f or det ermi ni ng
t he saf e speed of a curve cal l ed a
bal l bank i ndi cat or. If you are unsure
of correct shape on a curve, get pro-
f essi onal advi ce i f at al l possi bl e.
26 Ar eas of Concer n
Ar eas of Concer n 27
Rai l r oad Cr ossi ngs
Mai nt ai ni ng a road t hat i nt ersect s a
rai l crossi ng i s very si mi l ar t o bri dge
approaches or i nt ersect i ons w i t h paved
roads. Al w ays begi n t o el i mi nat e crow n
approxi mat el y 100 f eet aw ay and shape
t he road t o mat ch t he crossi ng.A spe-
ci al consi derat i on i s t o be ext remel y
caref ul about keepi ng gravel out of t he
f l angew ays al ong t he rai l s. Thi s can
cause a derai l ment — part i cul arl y w hen
i t combi nes w i t h snow pack i n nort hern
regi ons of t he count ry. Al so, be ext reme-
l y caref ul not t o st ri ke t he rai l s t hem-
sel ves. In some cases, t hi s coul d sl i ght l y
di spl ace t he rai l s and agai n coul d cause
a maj or di sast er. If you snag or st ri k e
a rai l w i t h your equi pment , report i t
i mmedi at el y t o your supervi sor and
t he rai l road. (35, 36)
Dr i veways
The publ i c road shoul d al w ays ret ai n i t s
normal crow ned shape w hi l e passi ng
dri vew ays. Too of t en t he gravel bui l ds
up on t he road at a dri vew ay ent rance
as show n i n Fi gure 7. Thi s changes t he
shape of t he roadw ay i t sel f , w hi ch can
cause l oss of cont rol of vehi cl es. These
si t uat i ons need t o be reshaped. The
dri vew ay ent rance shoul d al w ays mat ch
t he edge of t he publ i c road as show n
i n Fi gure 8. (35, 36)
In heavi l y popul at ed areas w i t h gravel
roads, poor i nst al l at i on of dri vew ays
can be a real probl em. To reduce mai n -
t enance probl ems, i mpl ement a permi t -
t i ng process. It shoul d address t he
proper cont rol of grade t o mat ch road
edge, adequat e w i dt h, and drai nage.
The sol ut i on t o t he probl em show n i n
Fi gure 8 i s demonst rat ed i n a si mpl e
t hree-st ep operat i on w hi ch i s show n
on t he next page.
Gr ader wor ki ng at a r ur al r ai l r oad cr ossi ng. The mat er i al t hat has been pushed i nt o t he f l ange-
way shoul d be r emoved.
Figure 8: Proper matching of driveway and road edge
Figure 7: Improper matching of driveway and road edge
St ep 1. The oper at or r est or es t he cr own
on t he publ i c r oad by r emovi ng excessi ve
mat er i al ext ended f r om t he dr i veway.
Not e t he dr op of f cr eat ed by
t hi s oper at i on.
St ep 2. The oper at or pr oceeds
t o cor r ect t he dr op of f at t he
end of t he dr i veway by cut t i ng
t he mat er i al l oose and spr eadi ng
i t back on t he dr i veway.
St ep 3. The above t wo st eps r esul t i n a
wel l -shaped dr i veway t hat mat ches
t he edge of t he publ i c r oad.
28 Ar eas of Concer n
Ar eas of Concer n 29
Cat t l e Guar ds
A si mpl e st ruct ure cal l ed a cat t l e guard
i s common i n part s of t he hi gh pl ai ns
and mount ai n w est i n t he US. These
devi ces are commonl y f ound on l ow
vol ume roads i n nat i onal f orest s and on
publ i c l ands w here cat t l e or ot her l i ve-
st ock are al l ow ed t o graze on open
range. The cat t l e guard al l ow s t raf f i c t o
pass f rom one parcel of l and t o anot her
w i t hout openi ng and cl osi ng gat es. The
cat t l e guard i s a seri es of heavy i ron
bars or pi pes pl aced across t he road-
w ay, t hat general l y appear l i ke a heavy
grat e. There i s a cavi t y bel ow t he bars
or pi pes t hat i s general l y t w el ve t o
ei ght een i nches deep. These st ruct ures
conf i ne cat t l e and ot her l i vest ock si nce,
by i nst i nct , t hey w i l l not cross t hem f or
f ear of f al l i ng t hrough t he grat e.
Cat t l e guards are a speci al mai nt enance
chal l enge w hen i nst al l ed on gravel
roads. The approach t o t hem shoul d be
t reat ed much l i ke bl adi ng up t o a bri dge
deck. Begi n t o el i mi nat e normal crow n
50-100 f eet f rom t he guard. The road
must t hen be shaped t o mat ch t he
cat t l e guard. How ever, gravel must
never be spi l l ed i nt o t he cavi t y bel ow
t he grat e. If t hi s i s done repeat edl y, t he
hol l ow area bel ow w i l l be f i l l ed w i t h
gravel and cat t l e w i l l si mpl y w al k out .
St op t he grader t w o t o t hree f eet f rom
t he guard and backdrag l oose mat eri al
aw ay f rom t he st ruct ure. Then, hand-
w ork w i l l of t en have t o be done at t he
edge of t he cat t l e guard t o mai nt ai n
a smoot h crossi ng f or t raf f i c.
Exampl e of good wor k
done t o r eshape a
r oadway appr oachi ng
a cat t l e guar d and
mai nt ai ni ng a ver y
smoot h cr ossi ng.
30 Ar eas of Concer n
passes over t he surf ace and t he road
def l ect s under t he l oad.Pressure f rom
t he l oad w i l l cause w at er i n t he sub-
grade t o ri se t o t he surf ace and carry
f i ne soi l part i cl es w i t h i t . Thi s w i l l
cont ami nat e and w eaken t he new
mat eri al very qui ckl y and make i t
w eak, undrai nabl e, and unst abl e.
A f abri c prevent s t hi s by f i l t eri ng
Sof t and Weak Subgr ade
Al t hough i t i s ext remel y i mport ant t o
remove surf ace and subsurf ace w at er
f rom t he roadw ays, t here are si t uat i ons
w here w at er si mpl y cannot be kept
aw ay. A good exampl e i s a sect i on of
road t hat passes t hrough sw ampl and
or w et l ands w hi ch nat ural l y occur and
cannot be drai ned. These areas w i l l
very of t en have w eak subgrades, w hi ch
cannot support heavy l oads. Somet i mes
i t i s even hard t o mai nt ai n t he road f or
l i ght t raf f i c. The road w i l l rut and pot -
hol es w i l l be f ormed very qui ckl y due
t o very poor soi l support .
Thi s requi res more t han rout i ne mai n-
t enance and reshapi ng i f t he probl em
i s t o be f i xed permanent l y. General l y,
t here are onl y t w o sol ut i ons. One i s t o
excavat e and remove t he w eak, w et
soi l . Occasi onal l y, t he exi st i ng roadw ay
i s w i de enough t hat af t er addi ng sel ect
mat eri al and shapi ng, t he t op w i dt h of
t he f i ni shed surf ace i s adequat e. In t hi s
case, undercut t i ng w i l l not be necessary.
Thi s “ sel ect mat eri al ” w i l l vary depend-
i ng on w hat i s avai l abl e i n t he regi on.
One t hi ng i s cri t i cal : i t must be cl ean
and drai nabl e. It i s al so advi sabl e t o
get engi neeri ng advi ce f rom consul -
t ant s t o make sure t hat mat eri al s
are adequat e bef ore st art i ng t hi s
rehabi l i t at i on chal l enge.
The second met hod i s si mi l ar, except
a product cal l ed a geot ext i l e or geo-
synt het i c i s added. These product s are
of t en cal l ed “ f abri cs” and “ gri ds” i n
t he f i el d. Here t he procedure i s vi rt ual l y
t he same as descri bed bef ore, but a
f abri c and/or gri d i s pl aced over t he
subgrade soi l bef ore t he sel ect mat eri al
i s brought i n.A w oven or nonw oven
f abri c (geot ext i l e) pl aced on t he sub-
grade becomes a separat or bet w een
t he w eak soi l and t he new mat eri al
pl aced above i t . The f i ve phot os show n
on t hi s and t he next page demonst rat e
t he proper sequence of pl aci ng geot ex-
t i l es as expl ai ned i n t he f ol l ow i ng para-
graphs. Thi s prevent s very f i ne, w et si l t
and cl ay t ype soi l s f rom pumpi ng or
mi grat i ng up i nt o t he new mat eri al .
The pumpi ng act i on occurs w hen t raf f i c
A deci si on was made t o st abi l i ze t he above r oad.A r oad cr ew i s shown r ol l i ng out a f abr i c over
t he exi st i ng r oad sur f ace.
Thi s gr avel r oad wi t h nar r ow r i ght -of -way has t ur ned t o mud dur i ng wet spr i ng condi t i ons. It
r epr esent s l ow-vol ume r oads commonl y f ound i n sever al par t s of t he wor l d.
Ar eas of Concer n 31
A t r uck i s shown back-dumpi ng a sel ect ,
gr anul ar mat er i al ont o t he f abr i c.
The cr awl er /l oader
was used t o spr ead
t he mat er i al over
t he f abr i c and i s
now bei ng used t o
pul l a gr i d r ol l er t o
smoot h t he sur f ace.
The r oad now per f or ms ver y wel l af t er
t he st abi l i zat i on was compl et ed.
out t he f i ne soi l s w hi l e al l ow i ng w at er
t o pass t hrough i t and drai n out of
t he cl ean, granul ar mat eri al above.
A gri d can al so be used ei t her i n
combi nat i on w i t h or w i t hout f abri cs.
Gri ds are very st rong geosynt het i cs
w hi ch, i n si mpl est t erms, conf i ne t he
mat eri al pl aced on t hem and do not
al l ow l at eral movement or “ shovi ng”
of t he mat eri al .Gri ds have been rol l ed
out over sw amps and roads bui l t over
t hem w i t h remarkabl y good resul t s.
The abi l i t y t o carry and di st ri but e t he
soi l and t raf f i c l oad i s ref erred t o as
a snow shoe ef f ect .Gri ds can al so be
pl aced w i t hi n l ayers of sel ect mat eri al .
There are many t ypes and vari at i ons
of t hese product s. It i s w i se t o get good
engi neeri ng advi ce w hen deal i ng w i t h
di f f i cul t soi l st abi l i zat i on probl ems.
Once t he subgrade has been st rengt h-
ened, a good coat of surf ace gravel
can be pl aced and t he road can be
mai nt ai ned as any ot her gravel road.
The i ni t i al cost of st abi l i zi ng a w eak
road sect i on can be expensi ve, but i t
w i l l resul t i n l ow mai nt enance cost s
t hereaf t er, and w i l l of t en make t hese
proj ect s cost ef f ect i ve.
Wor ker s ar e shown usi ng a combi nat i on
of gr i d and f abr i c bei ng pl aced over an
ext r emel y weak subgr ade. Thi s i s i n a r egi on
of Ecuador t hat r ecei ves aver age annual
r ai nf al l of near l y 200 i nches. Appr oxi mat el y
t wel ve i nches of sel ect , cl ean sand-t ype
mat er i al wi l l be pl aced over t he gr i d t o ser ve
as a base. The f abr i c wi l l be wr apped over
t he si de of t he sand l ayer t o keep t he edge
f r om er odi ng away. Then anot her l ayer of
gr i d wi l l be pl aced and cover ed wi t h appr oxi -
mat el y t en i nches of cr ushed sur f ace gr avel
whi ch wi l l become t he dr i vi ng sur f ace.
Her e i s t he f i ni shed r oad whi ch has per f or med
r emar kabl y wel l whi l e bei ng used t o car r y
ext r emel y heavy l oads dur i ng const r uct i on
and equi pment f or oi l f i el d devel opment .
It i s a good exampl e of how an ext r emel y
weak subgr ade can be st abi l i zed and a gr avel
r oad bui l t over i t wi t h mi ni mum di st ur bance
t o t he sur r oundi ng t er r ai n and t he envi r onment .
(Phot os on t hi s page ar e cour t esy of Ron
Ander son, Tensar Ear t h Techol ogi es, I nc.,USA)
A sect i on of t he same r oad dur i ng
const r uct i on.Sel ect mat er i al i s bei ng
pl aced over t he gr i d and f abr i c. Not i ce
t he evi dence of ext r emel y weak
subgr ade shown by t he r ut at t he
bot t om of t he phot o. Thi s r ut was
l ef t by a l i ght vehi cl e whi ch t r avel ed
beyond t he st abi l i zed sect i on.
Yet t hi s r oad wi l l have t o car r y
oi l f i el d t r af f i c when f i ni shed.
32 Ar eas of Concer n