Right: The stream crossing on August 12th,
2008. The brush has been cleared and the areas is almost ready
By August 14th they were brining in gravel.
We were blessed by very dry weather through this part of the
construction, but there was some gravel on hand (to control
siltation) to line the stream crossing if rain threatened.
Note also the pile of wood chips in the background. A big
effort was made to cut down as few trees as possible; one factor
that helped was the fact that we were re-establishing a road in an
existing road bed and thus the only trees in the way were small
trees which had grown up since the last time the property was
logged. Most of these were chipped; note the pile of chips in
the background. Some of the larger trees were cut up as
firewood and left for the Arnolds. The gravel in this picture
is for what was to be the lower, main parking lot.
On August 19th the focus was on the stream
crossing. Here, Jim is using the excavator to place the very
large stones that underlie the crossing. Rather than use a
culvert at this location, we worked with the Natural Resources
Conservation Service of the USDA to design a "low water"
stream crossing. This design minimizes environmental impacts,
especially when used in situations like this where an ephemeral
stream (a stream without running water at some times of the year) is
crossed by a road. If we had gone with a traditional culvert
we would have needed at least a 48" culvert and the cost would
have been significant.
For this crossing, the existing stream bed was
excavated and set to the side. The large rocks you see were
placed in the resulting depression, bringing the roadway back almost
to stream level. Final level was achieved with #2 limestone (a
coarse grade) and these stones were locked in place with fine
Our engineer, Tony Durm, had adapted the NRCS
stream crossing design to our site. We did hit an unforeseen
difficulty in that just behind where the excavator sits in this
image there is an outcropping of rock. This prevented
excavating the roadway low enough to achieve the recommended grade
coming out of the crossing. Billy Burkhart and Jim solved this
problem by adding additional fine limestone on the hillside to lock
in the rocks there; the resulting grade is steep but drivable.
Left: Jim consults with Billy Burkhart
(white shirt) on the design of the stream crossing.
By August 21st gravel placement was the main
activity as the upper parts of the road were graded. The truck
at right is dumping gravel across the Sands property. A good
driver can tailgate the gravel fairly evenly over the ground - even
on a steep hill. Any remaining irregularities are smoothed out
with a dozer blade. The dozer's treads also begin the process
of packing the gravel down, a task that is furthered by the vibrating
roller and continues as 15-passenger vans visit the site.
The photos below show what this stretch of
road looked like 1 day later. The gravel has been spread and
the rock has been compacted. August 22 was a key day; the road
was drivable all the way back to the terminal parking lot - and
classes started the following Monday.
To the left are two pictures of
the terminal parking lot on the college property. This is the
end of the road; a parking lot and turn-around. The original
specs called for a 20' x 20' lot with the road extending just a
van's length past the parking lot. The idea was that a van
could pull past the lot and back into it to park - there would be
room for 3 vans (with one on the road
Billy had to clear a much larger area to let
his large trucks turn around (see picture above); I guess he didn't
want the trucks to get their tires dirty, because he covered the
whole clearing with gravel, giving us a 105' x 42' parking
Left: The money shot: On August 22nd
I was able to drive my station wagon all the way to the terminal
parking lot. At this point, the lower part of the road from
the end of the township road to the stream crossing was not covered
with gravel, but it was passable (in dry weather!) by car. On
a project like this you build your road from the end back so you
don't tear it up hauling gravel over finished road. I should
point out that our informal design specs indicated that the road
should be drivable by a Honda Civic. As of October 25th I
haven't had the Civic back there, but our dean got her Toyota Prius
back there, so we're close.
As you can see, we have plenty of room to turn
We have several small (18") culverts along
the road to allow water coming down from the hills above the road to
get past the road without causing it to become wet and soft.
It was really important that these culverts not contribute to
erosion downslope; as you can see here we had Jim place a number of
large rocks (dislodged during the road grading) below each culvert
to arrest the water flow. We will be monitoring the culverts
and the downslope areas for signs of erosion; we will add some
plantings as needed to help stabilize the banks. The forested
nature of the slopes - as well as the porous nature of our road and
parking lots - will help to reduce runoff by encouraging water to
penetrate the ground and flow to the river as groundwater.
Asphalt roads would cause a lot of runoff, and contribute pollutants
(oils) to the river. We didn't want that.
With the upper road finished we hit a snag.
The lower part of the road is built over an abandoned township
road. Early in the project we had the county surveyor mark the
end of township maintenance - we knew we were responsible for
anything past that point. In addition, I had arranged for
Billy to place gravel on what we though was the part of the township
road that was still their responsibility as we didn't want to be a
burden to the taxpayers in the township. If you look in the
picture below left, the township's responsibility ended about
halfway through the field behind the car.
Part of the township's responsibility was a
culvert. The culvert was in bad shape; it was undersized both
in diameter and in length. The stream it carried was about 6
feet below the road grade, and the banks were very steep and
unstable - we were worried about losing a van over the edge in wet
weather. Billy's trucks could just barely cross it; and to
make matters worse it was corroded and collapsing (above
left). We were hoping the township would replace it, but they
told us that two years earlier (just after the survey marker had
been placed) they had abandoned this stretch of road, including the
culvert. It was now our responsibility.
Billy and I worked to cut the scope of the
project in a few places, and I asked the state if we could spend
some of the contingency funds built into the grant to replace the
culvert. After some tense negotiations, we got permission to
proceed. By that point, Billy had to pull his equipment out to
do another job, and it wasn't until about September 15th that he got
back in there. During most of that time the weather was dry
and the dirt road passable, but it did rain one day and Dr. Tschunko
almost got stuck.
Above: Culverts old and new. The
new culvert is 40' long and 60" in diameter; the old one was
30"x60" in cross section and only 25 feet long. The
short length led to dangerously steep and unstable banks leading up
to a very narrow roadway barely wide enough for a van (below
left). We again worked with the NCRS to determine the right
culvert size; the area drained by the stream was almost 200 acres
and they recommended at least a 48" culvert for a 10 year storm
event. Below, before and during pictures of the roadway.
Above: a finished view of
the roadway, which is much wider. In addition, the banks are
not as steep and are better stabilized. Jim placed the rocks
to armor the banks and Drs. Brown and McShaffrey planted the grass
on September 26th (the image above was made October 5th - good luck
on rain (it started while we were planting the grass and returned
every few days over the next few unseasonably warm weeks)
contributed to good growth of the grass, which will further
stabilize the banks.
Above left: The new
culvert, with actual-sized students for scale (September
16th). Above right: The road crossing on September
15th. The red stripe is an overlay on some tire tracks left by
a 15-passenger van. As you can see (left), the new roadway is
more than wide enough to handle a van (September 16th). On
this day, Jim was spreading the gravel on the old township road
(behind the photographer of the image to the left). When the
van came out of the field station Jim was blocking the road with the
bulldozer; he had to back up and the van followed closely, giving
the impression that the van was pushing the bulldozer down the road.
a way, we were lucky on the whole culvert situation; the township
would not have been able to afford a first-class job (and if they
had, it would have taken resources away from other areas of needed
work). We now have a very safe crossing that will hopefully last for
a very long time.
Above: The upstream side of
the culvert before the grass was planted (image made September 21st,
2008). Left - the nearly finished road and entrance parking
lot on September 18th.
Right: Jim rolling out the gravel on
September 26th. This was a final pass to touch up a few spots;
the road had really been done a week earlier. Unfortunately, a
few ORV riders had gotten onto the road (driving past 4 separate no trespassing
signs) and had torn up the gravel in some spots, so Jim rolled it
one more time before loading the roller on the trailer and taking it
off the site. While Jim was doing the rolling, Dave Brown and
I planted grass seed at the culvert and in other key places to
prevent any erosion. Good thing we did; it started to rain
that morning as we were putting down the seed. As mentioned
earlier, the rain came at just the right times after that.
Above: The grass on October 5th, only a
week after planting.
Note how well the grass is coming in 1 month
Since we were now responsible for the culvert and
the extra stretch of road, we decided to redesign our entrance and
relocate the placement of the gate. The original plan had been
for the gate to be located at the low-water stream crossing - almost
1000' from where we finally placed it at the culvert. This
will allow for better access control and less wear-and-tear on the
road. On October 24th I met with Eddie Lindimore and his
grandson, Jacob (left) of Lifetime Fencing in McConnelsville. We
(well, mostly they) had the fence and gate up in about 3 1/2 hours.
Immediately to the left of the gate is a narrow pass-through to
allow pedestrians to pass through as the gate is normally kept
locked. With the station open members of the public will park
at the small parking lot adjacent to the gate (Andy and Kate Grimm
of Grimm's Green Acres Apple Orchard own the property and were
gracious enough to accommodate our redesign by allowing us to place
the parking lot there). From there, it is a 0.3 mile walk
along the road to the far parking lot, where the trails begin.
When college classes visit the site, or when the Friends of Lower
Muskingum River or the College host an event at the site, the gate
is opened and we have a total of 3 parking lots available for
use. Members of the public parking at the gate also have easy
access to the nearby Hills Covered Bridge.
The road has already proven its value.
Compared to parking near the gate and waling in, driving to the far
parking lot saves almost 20 minutes of class time going in and
another 20 minutes coming back. This means 40 more minutes on
site every trip. In a 3-hour lab period before the road it
would take about 45 minutes to load the van, drive to the site, and
hike back in. Now we can be on site and working in 25
minutes. That means that for a 2:30-5:30 lab we can spend a
little over 2 hours actually working, instead of a little less than
1.5 hours. Multiplied by the number of student hours in the
classes this is a real timesaver.
On October 27th, Dave Brown and I placed the
project sign near the main gate, completing the onsite work for the
Clean Ohio portion of the project (only the paperwork remained).
almost all the work was done - it turned out the bolts we took with
us into the field would not fit the signposts. So, the sign
was temporarily held up by two 1/4" bolts, which couldn't be
snugged up all the way. I had to run back out to the site at
6:30 the next morning to get some better bolts in.
||Only 6 weeks after
the new parking lot was installed, a local water company had dug it up
to put in a water main - nice of them to tell us they planned to do
On December 8th, 2008, this crew of faculty and students marked the back
boundary of the station with nature preserve signs. They also
began to cut the perimeter trail in that area, and marked future
sections of the trail. Left to right: Dr. Katy Lustofin,
Jesse Daubert, Travis Kraker, Whitney Swain, Megan Stuhlfauth, Dr. Dave
As you might imagine, there was a lot of stuff
going on behind the scenes. Here are some notes on the
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