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Please Review My Road Design

 
Posts: 12
Location: Bonney Lake, WA (Zone 8a)
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In a month, excavators/dozers are coming to put in some forest service/access roads around the perimeter of my property.

Please review the drainage design below and let me know if you have any recommendations or concerns. I have been working on this design and flagging out the area for the last 4 months. I am fairly handy, but road building is outside my area of expertise. My main concern is drainage. These will only be seeded dirt roads, with light seasonal vehicle traffic.

Location: Western WA
Size: 10 acres (1350 ft x 335 ft)
Terrain: Fairly dense forested land
Soil: Loamy with some clay
Annual Rainfall: 49"
Hardiness Zone: 8a
Contours: 10ft Intervals
Elevation: 950 FT
Highest Point: Plateau w/ buildings is the highest point, topography slopes downward on both the West and East sides.
Slope: West slope = approx 6-8%, East slope = approx 10-24%
Pond: Currently the pond does not exist. (Future project)




 
pollinator
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Hi Dan,

I'm looking at your design and I'm wondering what you want to accomplish. It's a fairly straightforward design which would allow you to drive around the property. I don't see it going to specific spots on the site that need access. Maybe you don't really need that much road?

Building the road like this is not only going to be a lot of work, but also the roads will be quite steep. You could try to avoid that and make a central road that goes sort of diagonal on the contour lines with small dead-end roads on contour to reach areas that are of specific interest.

What I would include in a design like this is what to use the runoff water for, either feeding ponds or swales so you won't create extra erosion below the culverts you have planned in.
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I would want to see a water management (swales, ponds, etc) plan as well.

 
Dan Malone
Posts: 12
Location: Bonney Lake, WA (Zone 8a)
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Rene Nijstad wrote:Hi Dan,

I'm looking at your design and I'm wondering what you want to accomplish. It's a fairly straightforward design which would allow you to drive around the property. I don't see it going to specific spots on the site that need access. Maybe you don't really need that much road?

Building the road like this is not only going to be a lot of work, but also the roads will be quite steep. You could try to avoid that and make a central road that goes sort of diagonal on the contour lines with small dead-end roads on contour to reach areas that are of specific interest.

What I would include in a design like this is what to use the runoff water for, either feeding ponds or swales so you won't create extra erosion below the culverts you have planned in.



There are some spots that I would like to access that are not marked, but the road is more of an access road that I would be using seasonally. I would be used to haul firewood from downed trees and harvest Zone 3 crops. I made it a loop so I don't have to turn around with a trailer, it also acts as a security perimeter/small fire break. The Circle is also symbolically significant to me. The property is very overgrown with blackberry and other spiky plants so there is no way to access that part of the property without carving in a road.
I like your idea of putting in some swales below the culverts to help with run off. I was thinking of putting swales inside the loops to help irragate, but water is fairly abundant here in Washington.
 
Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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Hi Dan,

The steeper the road the higher the maintenance, that's why I personally would always look for the options to go more gradually up and down. The added benefit is that it takes less energy to walk up and down as well. Even for fire break it would be more efficient to have roads closer to contour, because fire tends to move up. But I don't know your property and I don't know the relevance of the symbolic circle so I can only offer advise in more general ways.

Swales are not only for water infiltration, they also help you move excess water on contour so you can choose the point where you let them overflow to make sure you get less or no damage in heavy rains. Because culverts concentrate the flow of water that is something that should be designed in to avoid the creation of deep gullies below them over time.

Success with the works!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1065
Location: Victoria BC
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Wow, that's a lot of road on 10 acres! If it was my land, I'd probably put in less road... but it's hard to say exactly how and where. Without a much better understanding of the terrain, vegetation, and usage patterns on your land, it's hard to advise on specifics... You've obviously put a lot of time/thought into this, and my suggestions probably won't fit your goals all that well... but maybe they'll spark some idea of your own that will?


On my parents ~8 acres in Victoria, with slope similar to the eastern portion of your land, we have a lane through the orchard area to access the aux. firewood storage, shed/apple storage, greenhouse, garden, and gully where much of the wood comes from. It might possibly have seen 20 trips between the pickup & the 1.5 ton flatbed in the busiest year. A lot of things can be readily moved by wheelbarrow. No trailers, wood is cut to fit the trucks before moving. In practice although the flatbed can take ~16ft logs with the tailgate off, everything ends up cut shorter for ease of moving it to the truck anyhow.

There are no water controls at all. The vehicle path follows the path of gentlest slope. This has worked fine for decades with no signs of any erosion at all, BUT, it only works because we time our visits with a bit of consideration for the weather, never driving up there when the ground is very wet. If there is heavy rainfall we wait at least day or two afterwards. I always put the trucks in 4wd/low gear to avoid any minor wheel-slip that would damage the ground.

Where there is slope equal to or greater than the east side of your property, we just don't drive. If a tree needs to come up, it gets pulled out in pieces with a come-along, or a cable to a truck if close enough. The one exception, a rarely used steep access ramp to the gully area, is eroding steadily, even if it isn't driven on, and will need remediation at some point fairly soon. It is loose rock, and I don't think it would be serviceable as seeded dirt.


What they DON'T get with this system is any sort of firebreak or any sort of easy way to use a trailer, but we haven't got a trailer anyhow.


On other properties that I've worked on, trailers were critical, as their vehicles didn't have enough space to serve as real trucks. However, it was really not a big deal to turn the trailer around if a dedicated spot or two was in place for this. Because it's the same trailer, and the same couple spots every time, it quickly becomes an easy routine. Generally these could also double as trailer parking spots. In my opinion the labor saved by reducing the amount of road required by so much is well worth the minor hassle.


As far as the firebreak goes, I can certainly see the appeal, but I'd probably choose to spend the time/effort/money differently. A 15ft firebreak wouldn't do much here, where any dangerous fire would easily jump that via the overlapping forest canopy above. How I'd deal with this would depend again on the property, and the directions a fire seems most likely to come from. Could be clearing out dead brush throughout the property, or a broader firebreak around the higher value portions of the property, or rooftop sprinklers and the pond to feed them from...


I assume the various lettered shapes are parking, barn, greenhouse? office? shed? What is 'A'? In any case, they're all on the west side, where the slope is much friendlier. I really don't have any problem with that half, it's the east side where I'd want to cut back dramatically.

Another advantage of going away from the current circle design is a reduction in culverts. If the water can be taken past the end of a dead-end road and dumped into a swale or pond with no culvert required, this is a good thing in my books. I don't like culverts; they cost money, need maintenance, and sooner or later they clog up and the road gets trashed. Walk an old logging road and the culverts are probably the most common failure points...

Finally, if you do stay with the circle layout, what about deleting the diagonal crossconnect to the east of the pond site? Seems like you'd still have a full loop using the roadway to drive back to the main entrance... or are there things in that specific portion that need access?


Hope something in there is of some use!
 
Dan Malone
Posts: 12
Location: Bonney Lake, WA (Zone 8a)
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Wow, that's a lot of road on 10 acres! If it was my land, I'd probably put in less road... but it's hard to say exactly how and where. Without a much better understanding of the terrain, vegetation, and usage patterns on your land, it's hard to advise on specifics... You've obviously put a lot of time/thought into this, and my suggestions probably won't fit your goals all that well... but maybe they'll spark some idea of your own that will?


On my parents ~8 acres in Victoria, with slope similar to the eastern portion of your land, we have a lane through the orchard area to access the aux. firewood storage, shed/apple storage, greenhouse, garden, and gully where much of the wood comes from. It might possibly have seen 20 trips between the pickup & the 1.5 ton flatbed in the busiest year. A lot of things can be readily moved by wheelbarrow. No trailers, wood is cut to fit the trucks before moving. In practice although the flatbed can take ~16ft logs with the tailgate off, everything ends up cut shorter for ease of moving it to the truck anyhow.

There are no water controls at all. The vehicle path follows the path of gentlest slope. This has worked fine for decades with no signs of any erosion at all, BUT, it only works because we time our visits with a bit of consideration for the weather, never driving up there when the ground is very wet. If there is heavy rainfall we wait at least day or two afterwards. I always put the trucks in 4wd/low gear to avoid any minor wheel-slip that would damage the ground.

Where there is slope equal to or greater than the east side of your property, we just don't drive. If a tree needs to come up, it gets pulled out in pieces with a come-along, or a cable to a truck if close enough. The one exception, a rarely used steep access ramp to the gully area, is eroding steadily, even if it isn't driven on, and will need remediation at some point fairly soon. It is loose rock, and I don't think it would be serviceable as seeded dirt.


What they DON'T get with this system is any sort of firebreak or any sort of easy way to use a trailer, but we haven't got a trailer anyhow.


On other properties that I've worked on, trailers were critical, as their vehicles didn't have enough space to serve as real trucks. However, it was really not a big deal to turn the trailer around if a dedicated spot or two was in place for this. Because it's the same trailer, and the same couple spots every time, it quickly becomes an easy routine. Generally these could also double as trailer parking spots. In my opinion the labor saved by reducing the amount of road required by so much is well worth the minor hassle.


As far as the firebreak goes, I can certainly see the appeal, but I'd probably choose to spend the time/effort/money differently. A 15ft firebreak wouldn't do much here, where any dangerous fire would easily jump that via the overlapping forest canopy above. How I'd deal with this would depend again on the property, and the directions a fire seems most likely to come from. Could be clearing out dead brush throughout the property, or a broader firebreak around the higher value portions of the property, or rooftop sprinklers and the pond to feed them from...


I assume the various lettered shapes are parking, barn, greenhouse? office? shed? What is 'A'? In any case, they're all on the west side, where the slope is much friendlier. I really don't have any problem with that half, it's the east side where I'd want to cut back dramatically.

Another advantage of going away from the current circle design is a reduction in culverts. If the water can be taken past the end of a dead-end road and dumped into a swale or pond with no culvert required, this is a good thing in my books. I don't like culverts; they cost money, need maintenance, and sooner or later they clog up and the road gets trashed. Walk an old logging road and the culverts are probably the most common failure points...

Finally, if you do stay with the circle layout, what about deleting the diagonal crossconnect to the east of the pond site? Seems like you'd still have a full loop using the roadway to drive back to the main entrance... or are there things in that specific portion that need access?


Hope something in there is of some use!



Thank you for the long and thoughtful response.

You are pretty close on the letters. [P]arking, [B]arn, [G]reenhouse, [S]hed/tiny cabin, [O]utdoor eating area, [A]mphitheater, [H]ouse {floorplan pic}. The buildings are 5+ years out and pond don't exist yet either but there is a natural depression there that I hope to leverage it for a pond. The road to East, South, and & west of the pond already exists, so they are kinda a freebies. I just need to regrade/recrown them. The outer loops are the main additions. I am having a reputable large excavation company perform the work. They will be mainly using a Cat 320CLU and a D5 dozer.

I plan to make a circular road because it is a very efficient shape. The vegetation is so thick that a cleared road is the only way to access those areas of the property. The road would be used regularly for foot traffic, with the option of seasonal driving when weather is accommodating.

I agree that culverts suck, and am currently exploring alternative drainage options like rolling dips. see updated design below. Ideally, I would like to have no Culverts, but I am working towards that goal.

P.s. I know that rolling dips should not be placed on curves. The picture is deceiving. The will be a 40 ft straight-away on each end of the curves where the rolling dips are. it will follow the contour lines creating a giant sil to over flow.
 
Dan Malone
Posts: 12
Location: Bonney Lake, WA (Zone 8a)
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Here is the latest version (v7). I have decided to go with Rolling dips instead of culverts. to save money, and to reduce maintenance.



 
master pollinator
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I would rethink your plan before the bulldozers come in.

I did the math on the figures you gave and I am coming up with almost an acre and a half taken up by road alone. That is 15% of your land and that does not include dwelling areas and the pond. Granted that is based on a 20 foot road but by the time you take in travel width, ditching and roots destroyed by the cutting edge of the bulldozer, you will easily have that if not more.

I know you put a lot of thought into this, and I really appreciate the people that plan first and then act, but there is paralysis by analysis too. In other words, overthinking things. Consider this, just learning to back up a trailer would save you a whole lot in road construction costs by placing a roadway in the center and then branching out as the need arises. For a lot that is 335 feet wide, taking up forty feet of it via road is quite the swath.

I say "only" 335 feet wide because the cable on my small Kubota Tractor and Farmi winch is 150 feet long. With a single road up the center, I could sneak my cable to the property line and haul trees and such back to the main road and move on. I realize you may not have a tractor now, but you may, or animal power even.

Don't get me wrong; I appreciate roads and have built my share of them. A properly constructed one makes life on the farm a true dream to access some far off fields and forests, but over a half mile of road for ten acres of land seems excessive to me.

Disclaimer: I have never seen your place and only "boots on the ground" can get a true idea of what is appropriate and what is not. To each their own, I was just curious if you did the math and saw the proportions that your proposal consists off.

My wife trying to "save the tree" during a Trash the Dress photo shoot we did a few years back. It was all in fun after building our access road.



 
Dan Malone
Posts: 12
Location: Bonney Lake, WA (Zone 8a)
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The property was selectively cleared 25 years ago, so I am not cutting down that many trees. I also plan to re-plant a new tree for everyone I cut.

 
pollinator
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Location: Longbranch, WA
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It seems like a cul de sack circle on each corner would reduce construction and give you a place to turn/park the trailer. I find in practice what usually happens anyway is I back the trailer off the road at right angle and unhitch it then come back when it is loaded and hitch it back up with the car headed the right direction. Probably only late July through early September you could drive through the rolling dip anyway. I am on the same latitude on the other side of the county.
 
Travis Johnson
master pollinator
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Dan Malone wrote:The property was selectively cleared 25 years ago, so I am not cutting down that many trees. I also plan to re-plant a new tree for everyone I cut.



I guess I am missing something because I cannot figure out the purpose of the road.

On my property roads are constructed for heavy use, such as mining and logging. For this it makes sense to invest heavily in their construction, employ heavy equipment and dedicate acreage since they overall benefit the land. However for light access such as recreation uses like atvs, snowmobiling and hiking, the trails are little more than cleared paths through the woods.

I say all this because I nearly made a mistake on my farm. I originally was going to put a major access road in a spot that would have fractured the land up. It would have resulted in a field to the left, then a rock wall, another field, the road and then another field on the right. A fellow farmer came along and suggested I put my road right on top of the old rock wall. I did that, not only using the rockwall as a base for the gravel road, but now I have a field to the left, the road and a field to the right. With a mere 1300 foot access road (3/4 of an acre foot print) I gained access to 22 acres. I am forever indebted to that farmer for steering me clear of an obvious mistake I overlooked.

As I said, I comprehend the importance of access roads, but we as landowners...we as a society...owe it to ourselves to minimize their impact and gain the most from every every linear foot they occupy.
 
Dan Malone
Posts: 12
Location: Bonney Lake, WA (Zone 8a)
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Road Update:

We have finished the road construction, and I am very happy with how it came out. We put down gravel on the first 300 ft of the road to the parking area for all season access, and I seeded the rest last weekend. We'll see how it hold up to the test of time.







 
Dillon Nichols
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Location: Victoria BC
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Looks good, hope it serves you well.

Guessing you don't get enough chill to do maple syrup there? I've always thought maples along a roadway would be great for this...
 
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