Understanding and Managing Unpaved Roads
Unpaved roads are a common sight, whether on construction sites, in rural or heavily agricultural areas, public lands and recreational trails, or landfills with heavily used haul roads. While an unpaved road does provide an inexpensive route to move vehicles, heavy equipment, bicycles, off road recreational vehicles, and people from Point A to Point B, the hidden costs of maintaining an unpaved road, and of managing both the sediment runoff and dust emissions from these roads must be addressed. For a public works department or construction site manager, the challenge is in finding the right balance between stabilizing the road (which requires initial capital outlay but reduces maintenance frequency and reduces sediment discharge and dust emissions) and scheduling frequent road maintenance (which requires more frequent use of equipment and labor, diverts resources from other areas of the project or municipality, and comes with potential environmental impact). Outside factors can also dictate the required management practices, these factors may include NPDES permits, TMDLs, air quality regulations, and adjacent property owners. This talk will begin with a background discussion of unpaved roads, their benefits and challenges, environmental and safety risks, and engineering challenges. We will then move on to potential solutions for managing unpaved roads, including watering, compaction, chemical treatment, and mechanical barriers. The talk will cover the challenges, benefits, and costs of the various management approaches, in particular looking at drought restrictions, optimizing the decision process, longevity vs. effectiveness of several unpaved road management methods, and the environmental fate and impact of the available treatment products. We will address the Conference Theme, Stormwater Evolution: Source to Resource, by discussing the potential benefits of unpaved vs paved roads, increased opportunities for natural contouring and reduction of grading needs, and the best management methods to protect receiving waters. Ultimately, the audience will be left with a strong fundamental understanding of unpaved road management which will assist in making informed decisions for proactive management of unpaved roads on his or her own site.