So my advice is that if you have
trees larger than 2” in diameter to clear from a roadway, you’ll need to
hire equipment. Most typically, this is done with a bulldozer, but
in my experience, the best machine for removing the most trees in the
least time is a track-loader. For those innocent of construction
machinery, a track-loader is virtually the same as a bulldozer, but
instead of a blade in front, it has a bucket that can be lifted up high on
the tree to achieve much greater leverage. This will probably cost
you anywhere from $50 to $100 per hour. If you have less than
1/8-mile of roadway to clear, the most important part may be whether or
not your machine operator insists on a minimum time for the job.
Most will want at least 4 hours before they’ll go to the effort to move
their equipment to your site.
I've also heard of places
where you can rent the machine and operate it yourself, but from what I've
seen, folks tend to shy away from letting strangers climb aboard
hundred-thousand dollar machines to have their way with them. I know
that the local Caterpillar dealer will do so, but you have to pay about as
much as you would pay to get the operator and the minimum rental is by the
week, so this probably isn't a viable option.
After you get rid of the trees,
you’ll have a lumpy trail that a four-wheel-drive can pass over
immediately, and after a few months of use, you might be able to get a
regular car over it in dry weather.
Wet weather is quite another
story. Water is the ruination of roadways, and the sooner you’re
able to deal with the seasonal precipitation in your area, the sooner your
road will go from a trail to a driveway. This brings us to…
Road-building Rule Number 2:
Get all rain-water off your road as quickly as possible.
Obviously, the only practical way
to do this is with ditches. You may have some spots where water can
be drained from large pools with a pick and shovel, but if you’re trying
to make a road that your in-laws will want to drive down in their Buick,
you’re going to need heavy equipment again.
the equipment that does best at pushing out trees isn’t going to do such an
efficient job of digging ditches. That's how life works. In most cases, the best way to dig
ditches is either with a road grader or a small bulldozer equipped with a six-way
blade. These are not necessarily more expensive than large bulldozers or
track loaders, but they are harder to find, and of course you have the
daily minimum problem again.
Remember that the object is to get
the water off the road as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t
become a stream, which will quickly cut a ditch of it’s own. That’s
why it’s a good idea to have the roadbed “crowned” while the ditching is
being done. This means that you make the center of the road a couple
of inches higher than the sides, encouraging the water to flow into the
ditches. If your road runs along the top of a ridge, you may be able to
avoid any ditching at all in many areas, but when you start to move up or
down-hill, or across saddles, ditches are an absolute necessity.
When you’ve finally got a usable road that
doesn’t turn to soup every time it rains. You’ll have a few soft spots
that may start to improve during the dry months, but never really go away.
You can drive your road every day in all weather and, if you don’t have any really
steep hills, you can get most delivery people to bring whatever you need
right to the house (especially if they're selling you something).