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  1. #1
    Member vpnwiz's Avatar
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    Sharon Center, OH
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    Bobcat CT235

    Default Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    I call this project my road to nowhere. It's not really a road to nowhere but after working on it and sinking lots of money into it for the last three months that's what it feels like!

    I have about 6 acres in NE Ohio, set in a long/narrow plot that is mostly thick woods. The house is set in a clearing and is very private, however there is no good way to reach the back 1/2 of the property. This house was everything we ever wanted, but it was well out of our price range, even as a foreclosed property. But we were able to strike a deal and just make it fit at the top of our price range. At the back edge of our lot is a farm lane that runs for a ways, that is great for hiking, riding bikes and the like, and it also connects to other houses waaay down the road. We moved here a year ago from a house on 1/3 acre in the suburbs. The kids (6, 8 and 9) hate it here. They are used to riding their bikes all over and having 20 other kids around to play with. I started this project to connect our front property to the farm lane at the back so they could ride their bikes much more than they can right now, and also so we could access the back 1/2 of our property. But money is tight (and what little was extra got spent on the tractor ) so this has to be done on the cheap.



    The back 1/2 has some challenges. With the pond on the west half the only good place for a road is the eastern edge. The pond is spring fed and there are lots (I've counted 5 so far!) natural springs in the back. Random places... some areas are constantly soaking wet and others are bone dry. One of the springs has a 4' tall iron cap on it, we were told by neighbors that it is in records dating back to the 1700's and the indians used to use it. In the early spring there are areas that are so covered with skunk cabbage you can barely move. There are two major problem areas identified - one, at the very start of the road there is a 50' wide area that is constantly damp, and is soft wet clay. You can't step in it without having your boot sucked off (ask me how I know). That is the first green line crossing the road in the picture below. And another 100' past that there is a small creek that will have to be crossed... the second green line. I wanted a straight road but there's no way to do that cheap and quick!


  2. #2
    Gold Member
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    Oct 2003
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    487
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    Ohio
    Tractor
    JD 5425 & 4300, Yanmar 1500

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    Hard to tell how to cross the two wet/creek areas without seeing. May be able to just build a "bridge" of culverts covered with soil/stone.

    I filled a huge pond/depression area in NE Ohio (n.Canton area) several years ago for free. I sent a letter to all the excavators/ general contractors/lanscapers in the area. I told them what I was doing and that they could dump reasonable clean fill anytime they wanted. I would push/move it so they could just dump and run. I included a map and made sure the access was always clear. I would go weeks with nothing and then tons of fill on other days. I think I had a day with about 24-25 tandems once! It took a year or so but I got it filled and with minimal cost (I did pay for some trucking cost with one guy at the end to get his very clean fill for the top few feet.)

    This may work to get some fill so your road can be a bit elevated above the surrounding terrain--even if only 6-12 inches. Just an idea to get a good job and less cost. But it does take a while.

    Peter

  3. #3
    Member vpnwiz's Avatar
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    Sharon Center, OH
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    Bobcat CT235

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    Construction started shortly after I got my tractor. My dealer threw in a week's free use of a Bobcat trackhoe. We started cutting trees that were in the path. I layed out the road to go around most of the trees but at the front there was a cluster of 5 or 6 that had to be taken down. Pulling the stumps up with the trackhoe was a job! I never thought much about stumps before but I hate them with a passion now. It was fun knocking some of the trees over with the hoe though

    After the trees and stumps were out of the way it was time to deal with the wet clay at the very start of the road.



    I had 20 ton of 3's/4's gravel delivered ($220). The initial plan for this was to use the front blade of the trackhoe to push the wet muck layer off the top and get to some more solid stuff underneath, then lay down the gravel and be done! Great plan but reality bit. The trackhoe did a good job making it through there the first few times, but after a few passes started to sink down - and I am talking a distance of feet and not inches! After pushing the trackhoe out with the bucket I realized there was no way to just throw gravel on it, it would all just disappear! Time to regroup and figure out what to do next with the front. I decided to dig two ditches, one on each side of the road, to divert the water away. At the front I came around and placed a length of culvert (40', $200) across there. Once the water was diverted I would need to give it a few weeks to (hopefully) dry out. This clay is nasty stuff... wet, sticky, like glue.



    If this plan worked I would leave the ditches open and make them french drains (if I could get rock cheap enough). The next picture is looking from the back towards the front.



    Here's another pic, about 50' further towards the back of the property, looking towards the front. You can see water pooled up in the clay to the right. The drainage runs from left to right in this pic.



    But in the interim I needed to get to work on the back part of the road while I had use of the trackhoe.

  4. #4
    Member vpnwiz's Avatar
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    Sharon Center, OH
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    Bobcat CT235

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    I used some of that 12" culvert to cross the creek and the front of the road. Started digging out the creek just a bit to lay the culvert in - it wasn't that much of a job but I realized how much a good operator is worth (and I am not a good operator). More clay here, it is just soaking wet muck. Terrible stuff to work with. Here's a picture after I got the culvert in and the creek crossed (it's in the top 1/3 of the pic below). I laid the gravel there to see if it would stay or if it would disappear in the clay, as that was one of the driest spots in the front part of the road. It's all gone now...no trace of it. You can't really tell from the picture but there's a drop of about 10' from where I am standing to the low point where the culvert was laid, then it comes back up about 5' on the far side.



    Here's a closer look at the culvert. Still very wet! There's about 1' of wet clay on top of the culvert and "bridge" for the creek. But the trackhoe could cross it without any problem. You can see the wet spot on the far right... my dad said "throw some dirt on there to soak it up". Guess what - it didn't soak, we found another spring!



    After this was done the rest of it was easy! It was just pushing the top layer of debris out of the way with the front blade. The next picture is about halfway from the creek to the back property line:



    And the next one is the end of the road!



    It was exciting to get there but at the same time - there's no way to get TO the road from the front, so it was a little disappointing, and the trackhoe had to go home the next day. I got a ton of work done with it though.

  5. #5
    Member vpnwiz's Avatar
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    Sharon Center, OH
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    Bobcat CT235

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    It was about a month since I did work on the road. The front clay part seems to have dried somewhat... you can actually walk on it without sinking down. A friend of mine knows a civil engineer and he came out to give me some advice (and have a few beers). He suggested I use some stuff called Geogrid. It's basically plastic grid that is laid down on top of the surface, and then your rock goes on top of that. The rock sits in the grid and can't escape into the clay below. Genius! I thought. Until I heard about the price... wow, way too expensive and I am not building a commercial road here. The most this is going to see is my tractor and some kids on bikes. But the idea was sound, so I sprung for welded wire fence with a plastic coating (2 rolls, $100) to put down on top of the clay. I also had a 12 ton load of 1's/2's rock delivered ($200), those are about the size of your fist.

    I also rented a big 'ol 4x4 backhoe loader for the weekend - plan was to use brute force with the big machine to grade the front clay into something usable, and place the fence on top, then the rock. I also needed to dig up the spring we found and place another culvert to redirect the water into the creek.

    Plan = FAIL... the loader got stuck in the clay, partially crushed the culvert at the front and was basically not very useful. My friends and I also suck at operating, perhaps that was the bigger problem. I was able to get the spring dug up, the culvert placed in, and that was about it. Dirt was just mounded up on top of where the two culverts were.

  6. #6
    Member vpnwiz's Avatar
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    Sharon Center, OH
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    Bobcat CT235

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    We are now at last weekend. In between watching my kids' football games and the Browns lose (of course) I got about 8 hours seat time in the tractor. The clay up front has dried out to the point that my R4's can drive on it without spinning. Using my back blade (that's my only 3 pt implement so far) I kept scraping at the clay until I got it relatively flat. The tire lanes still go about 4" deeper than the center line but at this point I don't care any more. I need this thing DONE. I put the fence down, lay the large rock on top, then fill in with the smaller gravel. The fence idea actually works - as you drive on the gravel you can see (and feel) everything squirming around under you, but it all stays in place on top of the clay. Hopefully it will last. The main problem so far is the tire lanes are still sinking a bit - well it's either that or the center between them is rising when I drive on it. I have to figure out how to fix that without losing all my gravel. You can see the center stripe of clay coming up. I can drive on it with the tractor and it goes down, but when I go back in the tire lanes it comes right back up...



    Moving back to the creek crossing and the spring, I have been able to get most of that leveled although have not been able to finish the crossing 100% yet. I am almost there. The spring is just to the right of the culvert at the top. This clay is still so wet that it's hard to drive the tractor on it without spinning the tires. Add to that the pitch and angle - going down and turning left, and it's a little sketchy getting there to use the back blade on it.



    And the picture below is the spring... hello water! What a pain, these are all over the back of the property. If I could figure out how to contain these and direct the water we could do a lot of good stuff with the back.


  7. #7
    Gold Member
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    Jun 2002
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    Upstate NY
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    B2150DT / Oliver OC-3

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    There is geogrid and geotextile fabric. Geogrid is probably better for your situation. I used geotextile and it was available in several widths, I think 12, 15 and 18 foot wide. I got a wide range of prices and one was much lower than the others. I think it was about $200 for a set number of square feet - the roll gets shorter as the width increases. If you could live with 9 feet wide and chop a roll in half???
    Marty

  8. #8
    Member vpnwiz's Avatar
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    Sharon Center, OH
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    Bobcat CT235

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    So if you read through all that you must be really bored or waiting for the tractor pictures! That's below with my oldest running it. I let him drive around the yard in low gear. And sometimes, work the loader in a dirt pile.

    The main problems I still have with the road are this:
    • Cost... when I started this I was hoping to just scrape the whole road for free. Now I think I am going to have to put gravel down much farther back than I thought. I've already got about $1000 into it between the culvert, equipment rental, fence (redneck Geogrid) and rock. If I have to put gravel down another 150', well... that's really gonna suck. But it looks like I will have to, because that clay just stays so wet. Which will mean for fence too, at $50/roll it's not cheap either.
    • The gravel I used is pretty big. It's fine for tractors but I think I will need a top layer of driveway gravel for the kids to ride their bikes.
    • The center stripe of clay that keeps coming up in the post above. Need to fix that without losing the gravel I have already put down.


    That's about it. If anyone has ideas for me or suggestions on how to do this better I am all ears. This is my first time doing this.

    Patrick

    And... the tractor pic:

  9. #9
    Member vpnwiz's Avatar
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    Sharon Center, OH
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    Bobcat CT235

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by jdmar View Post
    I filled a huge pond/depression area in NE Ohio (n.Canton area) several years ago for free. I sent a letter to all the excavators/ general contractors/lanscapers in the area. I told them what I was doing and that they could dump reasonable clean fill anytime they wanted. I would push/move it so they could just dump and run. I included a map and made sure the access was always clear.
    Thanks Peter, that's a very good idea. But the access to our property is a tight curved driveway. And also once they got to the clearing there would be nowhere to dump it but on the finished grass. And one thing my wife told me is not to tear up her grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by moeh1
    There is geogrid and geotextile fabric. Geogrid is probably better for your situation. I used geotextile and it was available in several widths, I think 12, 15 and 18 foot wide. I got a wide range of prices and one was much lower than the others. I think it was about $200 for a set number of square feet - the roll gets shorter as the width increases. If you could live with 9 feet wide and chop a roll in half???
    Yes, I did look into that with my civil engineer contact, he works with the DOT and other road contractors quite a bit. He made a lot of inquiries to see if he could get me cutoffs or half lengths. No luck.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
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    Jun 2004
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    Clark County, WA
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    Mahindra 2615 4WD, Ferriz 1500Z ZTR, Craftsman GT5000

    Default Re: Building a road... whoulda thunk it'd be this hard?

    I think some of those wet areas are going to eat your rock. Maybe you want to build some bridges over those areas. Get some old creosote soaked poles and build a wood deck.

    Just another thought. It all depends on whether or not you can get a footing for the bridge.
    A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
    -Gerald Ford

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