Explore the ins and outs of gravel road construction and maintenance.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Statistics reported that 1.42 million miles of U.S. roads—amounting to 35 percent of all roads—were not paved as of 2012. Gravel is often used to maintain the road, but without paving. Such roads are usually those with low traffic, such as those used for agricultural travel to and from fields, for timber access, access to remote campgrounds or lakes, or rural roads that are do not see regular traffic. There are many factors that go into gravel road construction and maintenance, and these factors are paramount in keeping a gravel road serviceable.
Gravel Road Construction
Many existing gravel roads were constructed out of necessity and don’t necessarily have all of the elements that would go into a newly constructed gravel road. For the best results, a gravel road should be constructed with three basic elements:
1. A crowned driving surface built on a base subgrade.
2. Shoulder areas that slope directly away from the edge of the driving surface
3. A ditch.
These elements allow water to run off the road and collect in the ditches rather than sit on the road’s surface and create puddles, potholes, and ruts. The quality, volume, and size distribution of gravel is also an important factor when it comes to the longevity of gravel roads. It pays to use the best materials possible. Surface gravel should have three different sizes in the mix, stone, sand, and fines in order to stay in place and form a crust to keep the material bound together.
Gravel Road Maintenance
Sound gravel road maintenance on properly build gravel roads will depend on two basic
principles: proper use of a motorgrader (or other grading device) and use of quality surface
Good maintenance is aimed at retaining the crowned shape of the gravel roadway and
maintaining drainage into ditches. The quality of the road gravel used, the volume of traffic on the roadway, and the weight of the vehicles will all factor into how much maintenance a gravel road will require.
Thinking of constructing a gravel road, or have a gravel road in need of maintenance? Contact us at Trucker Paving by calling 863-299-2262 or by visiting our contact page. We have over 25 years of experience in paving and roadway construction!