When the funds aren’t enough or traditional paved roads aren’t a requirement, gravel roads are made to serve the purpose instead of leaving the residents of that area with dusty, uneven roads. These are a cost-effective alternative to traditional roads but keeping them in top condition requires work and vigilance. Heavy traffic and water damage can lead to dangerous potholes, rutting and excessive quantities of dust which needs to be resurfaced in order to bring gravel roads back to working condition.
When Does A Gravel Road Need Resurfacing?
Various factors can play a part in steady deterioration of gravel roads such as rain, snow plowing, frequent heavy truck traffic, and speeding drivers. If gravel roads are left to deteriorate under these conditions, they can greatly damage the road’s underlying structure and durability. Although continuous maintenance does not let gravel roads damage to that extent but if such condition arises, maintenance crew brings in heavy machinery and a quality surface gravel mix to lay on the withering surface.
There are basically two types of gravels most commonly used in the making of gravel roads, quarry gravel which contains a mix of limestone, quartzite, and granite, as well as stone, sand, silt, and clay; or river gravel that is made up of stone and sand. A binder is also added to the mixture that holds larger stones and particles together preventing water from seeping through and destroying the roads.
How to Resurface A Gravel Road?
Resurfacing a damaged gravel road while it’s dry takes up a lot of time and effort and kicks up a lot of dust that can cause allergic reactions in people living nearby therefore resurfacing is most often done after a rainfall when the surface is malleable enough to reposition the gravel easily without having to use very heavy machinery.
There are many different ways and machinery used to resurface a gravel road. Maintenance crews may use tractors (to move gravel and dirt), box scrapper (to lift the gravel above the surface and lay it down evenly), chain harrow (for smoothing out the surface especially in dry season) and the most commonly used equipment being a motor grader also known as road grader.
Motor graders resemble large tractors with the exception of having blades at their ends that are very helpful in mixing the gravel, cutting into the road surface, picking up the material that has made its way above the actual surface and evenly spreading out new road material and shape the entire gravel road by moving the blades from shoulders to the center. For best results, motor graders are operated by trained technicians who operate the machine at an optimum speed between three to five miles per hour and set the angle of the blade between 30 to 45 degrees. Motor graders are capable of lifting off any unnecessary material from the road’s surface, discard debris and vegetation as well.
Gravel roads are a cost effective way to provide rural areas with something better than a dirt road but of course only with continuous maintenance are they made to last for years and serve well.