Private Road Design Guidelines
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In response to public inquiry, this list of recommendations has been assembled. The following is a general guide for private road owners regarding criteria that would ensure that their roads are suitable for emergency vehicle access. With the increased year-round usage of cottages and summer homes, it becomes more critical for private road owners to ensure that your road will allow for access by emergency vehicles. Please note that the driver of an emergency vehicle has the right to refuse to travel a road that is unsafe for that vehicle. It is up to the owner(s) of the private road to make sure that their road can allow safe access of vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks. The following is a general guideline only, contact your local emergency services supervisors and have them look at the road and make specific recommendations regarding required upgrades.
Gate Openings should be a minimum of 16 feet in width.
Road Clearances should be a minimum of 16 feet between obstructions (such as trees) and preferably 20 feet. 14 feet of vertical clearance is necessary to allow for clearance of lights and antenna on emergency vehicles.
Passing Lanes: There should be areas where two vehicles can easily pass each other at least every 500 feet or so, with particular attention paid to passing near hills and curves.
Sight Lines: The side of the road and inside corners of curves should be kept brushed out in order to maintain clear lines of sight down the road so that vehicles can see each other, see pedestrians and see passing areas.
Curves should have a 30 foot internal radius with a 50 foot external radius. This is primarily to allow access to long vehicles such as fire trucks that require a greater turning radius.
Cul-de-sac: A vehicle reaching the end of a road (or locked gate) needs to have a convenient way to turn around. A cul-de-sac with a 50 foot radius is often the best solution.
Hills should have an intermittent slope of no greater than 20% grade (11.2 degree slope). With a proper road bed, this will ensure access in most any condition except severe icing. A sustained grade of no more than 12% is recommended. If the road bed is soft, or there are curves associated with the hill, then a gentler grade may be required.
Ditching is recommended to prevent erosion.
On steeper hills, the application of crushed rock as a topping provides excellent holding power and erosion control. In some cases asphalting of the surface, particularly near the crown of the hill, will greatly assist vehicle traction and prevent erosion of the roadbed.
Road Bed: One of the most important aspects is the quality of the road bed. A suggested minimum of 6 inches course base rock (to provide a firm base with good drainage) topped with 4 inches of top course (crushed rock) is recommended. If the road is placed over soft ground, then the thickness of base rock should be increased. Ditching of the road to provide drainage and prevent erosion of the road bed is recommended.
Signage: Often overlooked, this is critical for emergency responders to find you quickly. If your private drive has been named, then a reflective metal sign (white letters on a blue background) should be installed. If it has not been named, then you should have your address clearly posted. Contact Lincoln County Planning Services if you need to name your private drive or get an address assigned. (509-725-7911)
Points to consider are: