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Thursday, January 12, 2012

BOL Driveways

Bug Out Land Driveways
by Carborendum

OK. You've finally got your Bug Out Land (BOL). And you have chosen the site for the primary home or other structure. Now you want to access it via a vehicle?  Your vacant land came with no driveway. Being native soil it will probably get really muddy during the rainy/snowy seasons.  So what can you do?

The first inclination is to place gravel on the driveway. Keep in mind that not all gravels are equal.  To the layman, any bunch of dirt with some marble sized rocks is gravel.  But the combination of particle sizes is what really makes a big difference.

If you have only gravel (no sand, silt, or clay mixed in) all you will have after a wet season is a dirt road with some pieces of gravel peeking through.  The clay gets so soft, that the gravel just sinks in.  Pour more gravel on, it just keeps sinking in.

If you did all your construction publicly and applied for permits, most building departments will require that you have an "all weather surface" driveway.  This is so fire trucks can get in and out of there no matter the weather conditions.  Many a fire truck has gotten mired in unprepped roads.

The cheapest way to satisfy the building dept. is to use proper dirt to pave the roadway.  Here in Colorado, it's called Class 6 road base. Each state department of transportation will have its own soil classification. You might want to check with your local building department to see what road base can be brought in to satisfy this requirement. Many soil companies will have this stuff on hand for this very purpose.

The next cheapest way (and my favorite) is to bring in recycled asphalt (sometimes called crushed asphalt). You have to be careful here that you require it to be crushed small enough. I once had a roadway paved with "recycled asphalt" and I found huge clumps in my driveway that would cause the struts in my car to shriek in horror. Since I'd never given any size specification on the asphalt, I was unable to find redress. So, I had to pay someone with more integrity to remove the bulk of it and refill with smaller sized asphalt.

Others will tell you to do something similar with crushed/recycled concrete. I'd advise against this. If we're just talking about a driveway it will not give you any benefit,yet it costs a lot more. If you have a major farm where giant tractors are driving along every week, that's a different story.

Some jurisdictions will also allow the following less common techniques. First, apply a sprinkling of lime all along the trail designed to be your driveway. This can be done on a small scale (for short driveways) with a lawn fertilizer. It can be done on a larger scale with bigger equipment. But you'll probably have to hire someone for that.

Then you'll want to mix in the lime to the soil. It would be best if you can get a good 5% by volume mixed into the top 6". There are a variety of ways you can do this. If you can't get the full 6", anything over 2" will help somewhat.

Another technique is to mix sand and oil into the top layer. If using oil, make sure you satisfy any EPA regs and so forth.

The reason recycled asphalt is my favorite is that it is SO much better than plain roadbase. It is only marginally more expensive than road base. You can require recycled asphalt to satisfy the specifications of class 6 road base (or whatever your state's equivalent is). And it is very forgiving.

Many people will tell you that you can only place it when it is hot. That is simply not true. These are people who think of it as hot asphalt. If you place hot asphalt in the winter, it will have a greater propensity to crack. But this is not hot asphalt. In fact, I would recommend that you place it when it is cold and dry. i.e.--no snow or wetness on the ground.

The cold will make the particles shrink. Since the material is not hot, they are making no efforts to bond together. Smaller particles means better compaction. It will continue to compact throughout the winter and spring. By the time the hot season comes around, you will have compacted it simply by driving over it. Then the heat will soften the bitumen in the material, binding all the particles together.

Make sure all the dirt around the soil is sloped at a maximum of 2:1 (2 ft horizontal to 1ft vertical). This will allow for the greatest stability.

Since the bitumen is naturally hydrophobic (repels water) you won't have as much erosion of the R.A. as you would with plain old road base. Once the layer is bound together after your first heatwave, water will have difficulty penetrating it to erode the soil below.

If this is truly a BOL only, you might want to limit the width of the roadway to about 8 ft wide (maybe even 7 ft). This is minimum for most vehicles. For a regular driveway you'll need to satisfy the requirements of the local jurisdiction (usually 10 ft to 20 ft for various conditions). But with BOL only, you can try to hide this road with some vegetation that obscures vision, but will still allow vehicles to pass through.

Once the road is complete, you'll want to maintain it. The best way is to throw ice-melt on the road every snow. The chemicals in the ice-melt will invariably be some type of salt. Salts in those quantities will do two things. 1) It will make it too salty for plants to want to uproot the road. 2) It will tend to have a binding characteristic on all soil in the area--including the asphalt.

Now you can use this driveway to bring in all the construction materials for your BO retreat. Be prepared

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