roadWelcome to the sixth and final post in our “Planning Your Road Network” series.

It’s true a well-planned and constructed roadway can help minimize potential problems, but a regular maintenance program is necessary to ensure the long-term stability of your road system.

The good news is, in most cases you can carry out an effective road maintenance program with hand tools, some gravel and a truck.

Potential trouble areas, such as wet spots, culverts and steep grades should be noted. Regular inspections should be carried out, with additional checks after heavy rains.

New roads and roads with heavy traffic should get special attention.

Before and after wet season maintenance is most important—a little shovel work at the right time can prevent potentially larger problems later on.

Maintenance inspections should:

  • check all drainage structures
  • remove debris from ditches and culverts
  • watch ditches for flooding or signs of bank erosion
  • check inlets and outlets of culverts for scouring

Road grading should be carried out as needed to maintain road shape and surface, depending on the size of operations and frequency of use.

Ruts and potholes should be filled in before spring rains.

Cut banks may be vegetated to combat erosion. There are several commercial seed mixes available for varying roadside conditions (e.g., sunny, shady, wet or dry).

Spur roads, not needed all the time, can be put to ‘bed’ by digging short drainage ditches (water bars) across them to control winter and spring runoffs.

What are some environmental considerations?

Road development has a major influence on the efficiency and cost of harvesting operations. It is important that roads are well planned, engineered and constructed from the outset.

Road building requires a large commitment of financial resources and specialized expertise to minimize environmental impacts. Though logging is often believed to be the source of erosion and siltation, it is the roads associated with logging that are often the real cause of such damage.

The importance of careful planning and construction cannot be overemphasized.

The dislocation of vegetation and soil, and manipulation of water flows brought about by road building can have harmful effects on the environment. Waterways are the most vulnerable since they pick up the silt and debris disrupted during construction.

As a general rule, inexperienced people should only attempt road building under favourable conditions (i.e., well-drained soils, slopes below 30%, stable terrain, no major stream crossings) and in situations where the road will not be subject to intensive use. In all other circumstances, advice from experienced operators is recommended.

Suggested Guidelines:

  • Construct roads reasonable distances from fisheries sensitive zones
  • Avoid construction in areas of high slope instability
  • Stop construction when soils are extremely wet
  • Leave streams clear of construction debris
  • Provide adequate sub-grade drainage
  • Ensure that drainage is adequate to handle interrupted surface and sub-surface flows
  • Maintain width and gradient of active stream channels
  • Leave roads, drainage structures, and watercourses in a condition to minimize erosion

As always, thanks to A Non-forester’s Guide to Small-scale forestry in British Columbia for the information excerpted above.

You can follow the links below to view previous posts in the six-part series:

Stand Tending 101: Planning Your Road Network

Planning Your Road Network (Part II)—How Much Can You do?

Planning Your Road Network (Part III)—Starting Construction

What’s the Secret to A Good Roadbed?

What’s the Secret to A Good Roadbed? (Part II)