Ranch roads form vital pathways, granting access to livestock and vehicles to facilitate daily operations and transportation of products to market. The rough dirt and gravel roads of the past have largely been replaced by hard-wearing asphalt, but even this material requires periodic maintenance to remain functional. The following guide offers a closer look at the process of ranch road construction and how to care for your roads after they’ve been installed.
What to Consider in Ranch Road Construction
How ranch roads are constructed depends on their intended use. If, for example, a road is contained entirely on a single ranch’s property with no public right-of-way, it may be necessary to account only for animal and occasional heavy vehicle traffic, such as tractors and trucks. However, if the road will link to local transportation networks for buses and private vehicles, it will require additional preparation and testing to help it withstand more frequent usage.
Of particular importance is the subgrade, or the material beneath the path of the planned road. If the subgrade is not properly prepared or if the route chosen crosses weak or unstable ground, the finished road may begin to break down or erode soon after its completion. Heavy vehicles will add pressure to the road’s surface and cause it to crack and weaken.
If it’s not possible to reroute the road to avoid unstable areas, it may be possible to stabilize the ground with the use of geotextiles. These are synthetic, permeable fabrics that reinforce, protect, and drain soils to preserve paved surfaces on them for longer and to minimize the amount of wear and tear they sustain.
Advantages of Asphalt
Ranch roads often stretch over long distances through which minimal traffic will pass, making more costly paving materials like concrete an impractical expense. Asphalt, however, offers many of the same strengths and capabilities as concrete at less cost. For this reason, it’s a popular material for paving infrequently used roads, which are nonetheless vital to short-term transportation and business operations.
Asphalt requires minimal construction time and can be made to last for roughly 20 years when properly maintained. Basic maintenance such as trimming back weeds and brush from the road’s surface and resealing it every three to five years will protect the road from damage. You should also check the condition of your drain grates and drainage ditches before and after every rainstorm to ensure that the road is draining properly.