According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), almost 35% of the more than 4 million miles of roads in the US are unpaved. These often gravel-covered roads pose distinct construction, maintenance and safety issues.

Agencies responsible for the care of these roads should possess knowledge about good base gravel practices, particularly the three basic elements of an effective gravel road program:

  1. a crowned driving surface
  2. a shoulder area that slopes directly away from the edge of the driving surface
  3. a ditch to carry the drainage away from the roadway.

Join instructor, Walt Catlett PE, for this 4-week online class and discussion forum about the materials, techniques, and equipment needed for constructing and maintaining gravel roads. Each week, fundamental gravel road best practices will be discussed including:

  • Gravel road cross section (crown, shoulder, ditch)
  • Road preparation (base aggregate, compact base, driving surface, placement of materials, existing conditions)
  • Preventive maintenance (shaping, speed, motor grader stability, angle/pitch, windrows, pulling shoulders, mowing)
  • Corrective maintenance (rehabilitation, reshaping surface, shoulder and cross section)
  • Gravel (gradation, crushing, recycled, testing, sampling)
  • Drainage (cross section, roadway, surface, subsurface).

Weekly assignments provide step-by-step opportunities to apply these lessons to real-life scenarios. Discussion forums encourage the exchange of ideas around topics such as communicating with suppliers, the challenges of ensuring proper drainage, and selecting the best aggregates. By the end of the 4 weeks, you will have the skills to evaluate an existing gravel road and critical knowledge around gravel road construction.

Each week, a new module will be released, including a recorded lecture, quiz, discussion forum and homework assignment. You will have 7 days to review the lecture and complete the weekly assignments. The instructor will be available by email and phone for questions and comments during the class and will be interacting with students through the weekly discussion forum. The 4-week class will take approximately 6-8 hours to complete over the 4-week period.

 “Whether you’re a motor grader operator or a seasoned gravel roads practitioner, it’s important to understand not just the surface, but also the underlying elements of a good gravel road,” stated Catlett. “Although the online class does not provide field training, it provides sound practices to enable even the less experienced to assess if a gravel road is well-constructed and maintained.”

This online class is suitable for experienced road managers as well as transportation workers with little gravel roads experience. Those new to the field will learn fundamental principles and assessment skills. For those with gravel roads experience, the online class provides a peer-to-peer opportunity to exchange ideas and further develop knowledge and expertise.