Try These Low-Tech Solutions for Rural Road Maintenance

Hollis Walker shares these low-tech solutions for rural road maintenance to help keep your driveway and roads in good shape.

| February/March 2002

  • Low-tech solutions often are best for assuring your country road or driveway's long, healthy life.
    Low-tech solutions often are best for assuring your country road or driveway's long, healthy life.
    PHOTO: RICK WETHERBEE
  • A flat road — one without a crown — is easily broken by gullies, even in climates where rain is rare.
    A flat road — one without a crown — is easily broken by gullies, even in climates where rain is rare.
    HOLLIS WALKER
  • BEFORE: By any standards, this Pennsylvania road is a mess. When the weather turned nasty, the road got even nastier.
    BEFORE: By any standards, this Pennsylvania road is a mess. When the weather turned nasty, the road got even nastier.
    PENNSYLVANIA STATE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
  • Low-tech solutions often are best for assuring your country road or driveway's long, healthy life.
    Low-tech solutions often are best for assuring your country road or driveway's long, healthy life.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • AFTER: The Pennsylvania road is graveled, properly sloped and stable, the road's makeover is complete.
    AFTER: The Pennsylvania road is graveled, properly sloped and stable, the road's makeover is complete.
    PENNSYLVANIA STATE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
  • A culvert installed too close to the road's surface is soon exposed and ruined by traffic.
    A culvert installed too close to the road's surface is soon exposed and ruined by traffic.
    HOLLIS WALKER

  • Low-tech solutions often are best for assuring your country road or driveway's long, healthy life.
  • A flat road — one without a crown — is easily broken by gullies, even in climates where rain is rare.
  • BEFORE: By any standards, this Pennsylvania road is a mess. When the weather turned nasty, the road got even nastier.
  • Low-tech solutions often are best for assuring your country road or driveway's long, healthy life.
  • AFTER: The Pennsylvania road is graveled, properly sloped and stable, the road's makeover is complete.
  • A culvert installed too close to the road's surface is soon exposed and ruined by traffic.

Learn about these low-tech solutions for rural road maintenance.

Most of the time, living on a country road feels like . . . well, almost heaven, as John Denver sang. But when your darling dirt lane turns into mud soup after a good rain or your ditches overflow into your fields, living on a country road can feel more like being stuck in purgatory.

If it's a public road you live on, you may be literally stuck — at least until the government road grader bails you out. But if you own the road or share ownership of a road with your neighbors and it seems you're forever struggling just to keep it passable, take heart: There is a solution.

In some parts of the country, road improvement is no longer optional. Wildfires that scorched the West have emphasized the need for better road access for fire-fighting equipment; new ordinances are mandating wider roads with better turnarounds. Environmental studies show that much freshwater pollution and soil erosion is caused by unchecked runoff from dirt roads, prompting calls for improved road construction and drainage on private as well as public byways.



You may be thinking, "Right. But I can't afford to fix the road."

That may not be the case, according to Richard Casale, district conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service, based in Capitola, California.





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