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Debb Dodges Raindrops - Exploring Clark County Washington

News and Views of Clark County-The Road Less Traveled Might Be Gravel

Environmentally Sound Practices Can Extend The Life of Your Access Road   


Nature Not Neighbors - Road Less Traveled

Most homes in the country or on acreage are accessed over a gravel road. Usually it’s a private road or driveway that leads back from the main road, and gravel is an affordable alternative to paving, which can be three times as expensive. The county typically does not maintain these roads, so it's the responsibility of the homeowners.


Obviously, getting in and out is an important issue - especially during winter months when weather can be hard on a road. Keeping a minimum amount of gravel on the surface can help, but it won’t do any good unless you observe the common adage about proper road maintenance: “drainage, drainage, drainage.” Water and gravity are natural forces that must be addressed in road design and maintenance. Even paved roads need to follow basic design rules - unless water is drained off properly, it will erode the surface. Plus, it’s a serious environmental issue -  road erosion can create sediment and pollution issues for local streams and rivers.


The Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies (yes, there really is such a thing at Pennsylvania State University!) states that most roads should have a “crown” - a center that is higher than the sides.  This ensures the water will drain to either side - then properly dispersed either into a ditch or broad shoulder.  Crowns should be at least 1/2 inch high for every foot of width. E.g., a 20-foot wide road, (10 feet on either side) should have a 5 inch crown from side to center.  The exception might be roads on a slope - they often drain better if allowed to flow to one side. The key is to observe the natural draining patterns of the landscape and work with nature to accommodate water flow.

Here is a visual comparison - first an improperly maintained road. It’s easy to see where the water will sit and eventually erode through the surface:

Nature Not Neighbors - Improper Road Slope 

Compared to a properly crowned road: 

Nature Not Neighbors - Proper Crown

If you're want more on this, check out the EPA’s “Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance For Dirt and Gravel Roads” for comprehensive guidelines. 


So, when you are evaluating that beautiful view home in the country, here are some (literally) down to earth tips on the access road:

  1. Pay attention to the current condition of the road - is it relatively smooth and without potholes and standing water? 
  2. Does it appear to be regularly maintained? Are side ditches and culverts cleared and not overgrown or clogged? 
  3. Who is responsible for maintenance? Is road access shared with others, and is there a road maintenance agreement? Is so, make sure you get a copy and read through it to understand your shared responsibilities. 

 If you want to learn more about ViewHomes in Clark County and Nature Not Neighbors, contact us a Harcourts USA -The Carl Group.  You can begin your search here



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Debb Sells with Soul

Debb Janes EcoBroker&Realtor®~Sells with Soul

The Carl Group, Serving Clark County, WA
Specializing in Vancouver - Camas - Washougal - Fisher's Landing    

you can always find me at

As an EcoBroker, I combine my love of nature, people and the planet with my job as a Realtor®, that way, I can help you live in a more beautiful, comfortable and healthier environment, and save you money. Let me be your guide.

In addition, my passion for the Northwest lifestyle and our area's many neighborhoods ensure you a great selling or buying experience. Debb Sells with Soul


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Comment balloon 15 commentsDebb Janes • November 24 2015 07:17AM
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