Engineering for Forest Roads

Permanent access to property to serve the long term needs of the owner is achieved through Forest Road Engineering and specifying standards and plans for construction. Roads properly located and designed can provide access with the least cost and the maximum in serviceability .

Cost considerations include not only the construction or reconstruction costs but long term maintenance as well. By designing a road project and specifying its construction, the engineer has the opportunity minimize these costs. The balancing of earthwork between cut and fill material ensures that expensive out of road excavations (waste/borrow) is in most cases not necessary. By adjusting grade and alignment throughout design, the engineer has the objective in reducing excavation to the minimum necessary to meet the end product objectives. By designing a road with proper drainage, the maintenance costs for gravel roads can be kept to a minimum, by avoiding washouts.

For the road building contractor, a specified road means that they do not have to guess at quantities, and provides them a plan to build the finished product in orderly progression. For the landowner, a specified road means the opportunity to see the plans and make adjustments to suit particular needs, as well as having an engineers estimate of construction costs before bidding. By having the road work specified, the sealed bid process enables road building contractors to bid competitively to the same standards of construction, enabling competition to garner the best value for the landowner .

If necessary (that is the project does not fall under the Forestry BMP program) , road plans may be submitted for permitting and compliance with the State Erosion and Sediment control laws, avoiding potentially expensive fines ($10,000, Virginia). Disturbed areas of 10,000 square feet or greater are required to have a permit., or approximately 200 ft+ in typical one lane forest road construction.

Engineering considerations begin with proper and best location for your road. A road built in a poor location will be constant problems and a poor investment to continually maintain or upgrade a gravel surfacing to a pavement surfacing. Designing minimal road centerline grades, avoiding steep pitches, traffic during inclement weather will be disrupted the least and normal traffic will flow smoothly. Designing enough road width in curves to allow for truck offtracking allows for safe trucking operations. The truck designed for is an important consideration. Can a tractor semi-trailer acess the site, or will hauling be limited to straight trucks, tandem or triaxle? The size of truck enabled to haul will affect the haul cost and value of timber in the timbershed. What type of traffic sevicability is the road to support? Summer time haul only or is year round haul desired? By designing the surfacing and drainage, a roads servicablilty can be controlled. These are some of the reasons that Forest Road Engineering can be a wise investment.

What does Road Engineering Cost?

We have developed three standards of road design for gravel forest roads. The appropriate standard of engineering design is dependent upon the terrain and the road objectives. The rougher the ground, the higher traffic service level, the higher the appropriate road design standard. Large drainage structures (bridges) are separate projects.

All three standards have a base cost of $400 plus a cost per 100 ft of road designed. High standard= $80/ 100'; Medium standard= $60/ 100'; and Low standard= $40/ 100.


Design Standard Element High Medium Low
Route Recon Yes Yes Yes
Flagline Yes Yes Yes
Line In, PI's Yes Yes No
CL Station Yes Yes No
Rt Survey Yes Yes, Limited No
Earthwork Calc. Yes No No
Slope Stake Yes No No
Clearing Limits Yes Yes Yes
Drawings Yes, Plan, Profile, Typ Sec Yes, Plan, Typ Sec Yes, Typ Sec
Estimate & Specification Yes Yes Yes
Final Review Yes Yes Yes
Terrain Mountainous Hilly Flat
Design Cost $400 + $80/station $400 + $60/station $400 + $40/station

Let us engineer your roads, we have over 15 years experience and can provide you complete design, advertisement, bidding, and construction services.


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