Building a Road (part 1)

I wish I could tell you that building a road was a piece of cake. But it ended up being really complicated. There are a lot of photos in this one which will hopefully give you a sense of the scale of this project.

Our friend who will eventually purchase the 2 acre has experience building roads. Not quite this long or for a residential project, but he has the background knowledge. So he has been spearheading the effort. Our hope is to minimize our expenses on this part of the project. It’s a lengthy road and the engineers were estimating that off-the-cuff they wouldn’t be surprised if it cost up to 200k. Clearly not in our preferred budget.

In order to start the road we had to meet with the Highway Superintendent, the Town Planner, and the Town Engineer. That was a good meeting to review the requirements for the road and when the engineer has to inspect the process. Then we had to get a Driveway Permit. This is an irony because the whole time we were getting the subdivision approved they reminded us under-no-uncertain-terms that this was not the same as a Common Driveway. The Driveway Permit actually delayed us a number of months because it ended up being a bit complicated getting all the elements requested on the permit. But we were successful and moved forward!

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Coiled fencing for salvage

Some of the preparation for the private road we did by hand. There was an old wire fence along one side of the edge and brush we cleared by hand to access trees for the chainsaw. The chainsaw took care of many of the medium-to-large trees. Along with a wheelbarrow that found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Poor wheelbarrow. We also processed all the fallen trees by removing the limbs and gathering the branches. This will let us cut and season the wood for home heating in the future. Some of the brush was buried in non-road areas, others were left in big piles for us to handle later.

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Our rented excavator early in the process

My friend brought in an excavator to do much of the grunt work. He pulled down an impressive swath of brush and trees for the road, keeping the center line markers in place. The loam was set aside for future use, and large rocks were moved to the side. Some of the trees were too close to the road for him to take down so we brought in a crew to cut the trees carefully. Had to pay out of pocket but we didn’t have to worry about accidentally damaging the main road or power lines.

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Pulling up trees and brush!

It’s amazing what an excavator and a skilled operator can do. During weekends in the summer and fall of 2015 he cleared the road and the hammerhead end of the road of debris. It’s a shocking difference to the overgrown mess we were used to.

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The stakes mark the center of the road

Then we hit a bit of a delay. The trees at the road were on a rock ledge. That same rock ledge we had to redraw the road directly through during the planning board meetings. We had hoped that the rocks would fissure easily but they proved too solid. That’s New England granite for you. We had to get some estimates for blasting the rock. An attempt with a hammer didn’t get very far and the rock blasting companies agreed that it wasn’t a sure thing to go in with a bigger hammer. It was an additional $15k in expenses but unavoidable. I’ll write a separate blog post about how the rock blasting is done. It’s pretty cool!

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Post blast

We are still waiting to move all that rubble away. I am worried that there are still some pieces of ledge higher than our road grade that will need to be taken care of. That would mean talking to the rock blasting company again months after the job (the rubble has been stalled due to the winter season and rainy spring) to see what they can do for us. But that’s where we are for now.

The plan is for the rubble to be cleared away and everything brought to subgrade elevation. Then we’ll be ready for the gravel and asphalt base. We hope to be finished by the end of the summer but it’s really dependent on my friend’s availability and the weather. Part 2 will have to wait until then!

-Clara

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2 thoughts on “Building a Road (part 1)

  1. Pingback: Building a Road (part 3) | Journey's Rest

  2. Pingback: Construction Has Begun | Journey's Rest

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