Yeah we need the rain but…

Another day, another round of storms, another flood watch.

Another day of watching helplessly as my driveway washes away and ends up somewhere in Franklin County.

Another day when another tree will probably fall and/or more limbs will come cascading down.

If I dare complain about the weather over a breakfast table at Blue Ridge Restaurant or the Floyd County Store, the rebuke that comes back across the table is “good over it. We need the rain.”

Yeah, we need the rain.


Do we need the seemingly endless pounding of hard-pounding thunderstorms that leave driveways washed out?

Do we need the deluges that deepen potholes that no amount of complaints to the suddenly-invisible Virginia Department of Transportation can bring needed attention?

Somebody pissed off Mother Nature and when I find out who it is I’m gonna beat the crap out of them.

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8 thoughts on “Yeah we need the rain but…”

  1. Gaia may not be a bitch but she does know how to discipline her errant children. Climate change is, was and forever will be part of Earth’s existence . . . It is the speed of that change that we have caused that will kill us. When we can soon no longer grow coffee in Ethiopia, that will mark the end of our selfish occupation of this poor mudball. For the lesser informed of our readers, Ethiopia is the home of coffee and is still brewing a draft that is impossible to describe the pleasure of drinking . . . as opposed to the bitter, brown, dog-spit that so many of you call ‘great coffee’. But as the temperature gradient moves higher less land can support the coffee plant and it will soon become extinct . . . all within a lifetime or two.
    To be honest . . . I think we deserve that extinction . . . If God is looking down on us the I can only hope that the thought running through its head is that “I won’t make that mistake again”.

  2. There’s no need to watch helplessly as your driveway washes away Doug. We had a BRM discussion on this subject about six months ago and there were recommendations on how to reconstruct your drive so you don’t have such angst every time there’s a deluge. It will cost some bucks, but once done it’s done. The recommendation by the VDOT engineer was not correct unless he has relatives in the gravel business. : D I live in the Pacific Northwest with rain and more rain the order of the day with mighty winds off the North Pacific driving it into the hillsides with force. Washed out homes, drives, roads and mudslides are common throughout the late winter to early springtime.

    Possibly to keep costs down you could just focus on the trouble sections. Have someone with a cat cut down to the hardpan to create the driveway path, then layer by layer vary the coarseness of the rock until you create a crown in the drive with 3/8 x 5/8 ” with the fines (minus). These fines will cement up the surface of the drive, seemingly like concrete after some use. No more just pitching gravel onto the top layers of soil watching it wash away or devoured by the same subsoil. You seem to have extreme sections where the top layers wash away. So fill the cut down to hardpan with coarse, pit run gravel with irregular interlocking edges. Have these sections rolled out and make you provide draining ditches on each side so water takes the path of least resistance again line the rock ditches with coarse rock.

    So visualize you are witnessing torrential downpours. You study those sections that seem to erode rapidly, take note and address the situation once a drying spell comes back or next summer if necessary. Water will percolate through the coarse rock roadbed on top the hardpan. The heavy coarse rock is not moved by the water, but allows a quick, non errosive path for it to run off along with the side ditches of same construction. The coarse rock I’m referring to is pit run which in my area can be up to four inches in irregular dimensions which is important for the lockup as a function of rolling it out.

    The Romans use such a technique several thousand years ago when they built underground tunnel/aquaducts for water in order to supply their towns and cities. They always heaped very coarse rubble rock on the bottom so if there was a tunnel collapse there would still be a stream of water running through the very coarse rock on the bottom. This rock anchors the soil from erosion too. Same principle for your driveway surface except it’s not inside a tunnel.

    Good luck on whatever solution you choose. : )

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Whether we “need” it or not we’re all subject to the weather. Some benefit, some lose, good management will turn the balance, it is up to us to decide whether to change the terms.

      Carl Nemo’s working study of erosion, goes with living under the promise of torrential rainfalls. I think he’s correct your driveway should be rebuilt from the base, perhaps even slightly relocated to take advantage of your terrain.

      All roads suffer damage from water coursing or pooling. The fines are easily displaced; a pothole is the result of a puddle emptying and refilling, each cycle moves sediment to the outside, the water returns for a new load of fines. Gullies result from water finding the path of least resistance, and gaining erosive energy with increasing slope and water volume, ultimately scouring any base. A particle in motion does not stop until the flow carrying it has lost energy. There are many methods to control these forces, but the crucial lesson is to interfere before the forces accumulate. Time is the enemy, for any delay in action allows nature’s forces to increase and concentrate the physical effects.

      Winter’s freeze and thaw cycle only exacerbates the issues with the heaving of saturated soils, as the ice expands and contracts loosening the substrate with predictable results.

      Judging from the photos you’ve posted I believe you have the good fortune to have a dense clay-loam subsoil, which is a pretty good base on which to build a road- provided the builder provides adequate drainage. Parts of Floyd County are afflicted with soils locally referred to as “isinglass” which retain moisture, pump with any type size of traffic, and have incredibly slippery conditions.

      Each site is unique, I’d be glad to take a visit and discuss some practical solutions with you.

      • Carl and Jeff’s posts are a good example of the old saw (which I heard once again yesterday on “Car Talk”), if you know physics, you know pretty much every other specialty. The problem for me (and probably for Doug too) is the quote I got on doing that to a driveway that I own in Floyd. Ten years ago (approximately), I had a similar driveway dug out, built back up and PAVED for $200 more than this guy wanted for rebuilding a gravel drive. Want to quote it Jeff?

        • Hi Rick Parrish,

          I surely didn’t allude that the gravel work would be cheap. A unit; ie., 11 yards of rock in my area, SW Washington is running $275 per load plus 8.2% sales tax. I’m getting ready to freshen up the surface of my drive after about ten years with 3/8×5/8 with the fines/minus left in. It will take a number of loads to spread it out around two inches thick the length of the drive. Since I don’t know the length of Doug’s drive, I recommended that he focus only on the trouble sections and possibly even relocate sections to take advantage of the terrain as Jeff Walker suggested.

          My neighbor has a lengthy asphalt drive that he finally constructed in lieu of gravel, but he regrets doing so now because he has to keep resurfacing it it with buckets of tar coating occasionally; ie, a maintenance nightmare. The only problem with gravel are weeds, but I use monobor chlorate as a sterilizer and broadcast it the length of my drive. It’s what the railroad uses to sterilize the gravel on their gravel railbeds and it lasts for quite some time unlike Casoron weed and grass killer.

          I believe gravel is the best bet for a lengthy country driveway with a quality concrete job around the house proper, outside garages, the approach apron and the walkways with the remainder being gravel to the county road. These suggestions don’t pertain to short drive subdivision applications though.

          You didn’t mention if you got multiple bids on your drive of ten years ago or what you used for paving material; ie, asphalt or concrete; only the pricing as a function of gravel vs. paving. Evidently you are happy with your choice and its served you well. : )

          Carl Nemo **==

  3. Moscow has been saturated with smog and smoke as of late, as it has been before.

    Years ago, Moscow’s sky-scape was ‘seeded’ by their military, successfully bringing rains to clear smog.

    Perhaps some inclement patterns aren’t so ‘natural’.

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