Access Road Planning and Guidelines

August 27, 2018

This is an important earthworks-centric post. As a result of a new contract, a trench is being excavated in a relatively remote area. From the site, it's possible to see traffic moving to-and-fro on a primary road, which is a couple of hundred metres away. Picking up a proposed access plan, the guidelines contained in this document outlay the factors that will impact the establishment of this temporary roadway.

Prepping the Land

Land survey maps in hand, the land has been staked out. The length, depth, and path of the trench are all painted on the ground. A spray gun full of luminescent paint took care of that chore. Permits and approval slips are tucked up neatly within the survey mapping folder. The paperwork includes passages about possible environmental impacts and property easements. Looking up from the folder and taking off his glasses, the job foreman talks to his chargehand. The land is muddy, perhaps even silty and soft. It's not going to support the excavation vehicles, not without an access road.

Access Road Planning

It's a temporary road, but it still has to support the loads that are conveyed on heavy trucks and bucket excavators. The first step, soil compaction, proceeds along the staked out pathway. A mini digger is doing all the work at this point. It's also grading the land so that the excavators won't be operating at an angle when they start cutting the trench into the soil. Working at a precarious angle, excavators can tip over. Avoiding this danger, the grading and levelling work is essential. From here, the topsoil is taken away, a layer of gravel is spread and compacted, and an overlay of soft tarmac is placed on top of the gravelly foundations.

Painting in the Details

Sometimes a single layer of gravel or soft tarmac (asphalt) is enough. On other sites, the project requires a whole network of temporary access roads and a wide parking lot. Space is needed for the backfill. Road signs and night lighting goes in next, with warning signs telling the general public entry is prohibited. Broad enough for the passage of wide load vehicles and provisioned with drainage ditches, this temporary roadway will also require maintenance.

In short, this is the peak of the temporary earthworks mountain. Indeed, access road planning guidelines are packed with the kind of minutiae that are normally associated with permanent structures. That's because of the heavy-duty loads rumbling along the road. Highlighted amongst the guidelines, expect heavy loads, maintenance periods, lighting, soil and gravel compacting, tarmac compacting, and a preparation phase.

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