Liberty Nature Preserve



Liberty Nature Preserve

The Driveway



Ya know, under normal circumstances I would have to agree.  What could possibly be interesing about a driveway?  Well, as driveways go, this one is pretty much like most new will run about 1/3 mile.  It will actually be an excavation project unto itself.  As my pal Tim puts it, "it's not a driveway, it's a road!".

This is the view from the edge of the forest looking back across the meadow to the county road.  The county road is just the other side of the trees in the distance to the left of center.  In fact, the "driveway" will start right there.  This meadow will account for about 600 feet; it is the easy part of the project.

This is the same meadow viewed from close to the county road.  The mowed portion is a narrow strip, courtesy of our good neighbors Tim and Misty.  The actual lane is closer to about 100+ feet wide.  The "hole" into the forest is just right of center.

Travel across this meadow will account for the first 600 feet of the driveway.  After that, enter the woods and start (carefully and selectively) clearing trees for another 500 feet just to get to the end of the 2.5 acre access lane and into the main block of property. (click for survey & topo map)   The final leg is another 1000 feet of "engineering the best route through the woods without cutting down too many valuable trees on the way". 

The meadow area is gonna be "cake" compared to the woods.  It is everything after entering the woods that becomes a real excavation project.

This is a look into the woods just after entering "the hole".  We are still in the last 500 feet of the access lane and looking up the walking trail.  This shot is a pretty good representative of the level of driveway engineering decisions that need to be made.


That was my first reaction, too.  Oh, if only it were that simple.  This is where John the excavator enters and starts to steer; he is able to "see the forest for the trees".  The foot-path is really a lousy route.  It is the bottom of the run-off of both sides.  Then, I complicate things by specifying which trees I really want to save, like the big ol' sugar maple you see in the middle of this pic.  We walked thru and analyzed every foot of the possibitlies for a route, looking fore and aft, all the time John's mind is forecasting the "good reasons" and "bad reasons" for any specific section.  Then he links up the sections and does the same comparative analyzation; all the time I'm throwing in my "I really want to try to save that Walnut".  You see, the topography of Liberty is very rolling and there are gentle ridges and valleys.  Any road is ideally located atop the ridges.  For instance; in the pic above, we ultimately decided to enter the woods and immediately go to the right and run along the ridge, abandoning the walking trail as the guide.  So.......thereby hangs a tale of about 1000 feet of bobbing and weaving thru the woods to create a work-able route to get me to the pond and potential building site area #1 and #2.  The payback?  This is gonna be one cool driveway.  You enter a long stretch of grassy meadow and suddenly disappear into a hole in this huge wall of trees.  Then the road immediately goes up and down small hills and valleys, weaving left and right, all the time immersed in a beautiful surrounding of a hardwood forest.  After about 1/4 mile of this wooded travel, you hit this final destination of a super secluded pond and a hidden retreat.  This should be a wonderful blend of journey and destination.      


Yeah....paved.....fuggedaboutit.  We are talking gravel, my man.  Alot of gravel!  Because the project is developed over about 5 years, it is going to be quite awhile before we start to seriously think about breaking ground for a cabin foundation.  This means that there will be more heavy equipment and concrete trucks coming thru some years in the future.  This also means that any road of gravel will take a considerable beating.  If you understand gravel road construction, you know that you start with large aggregate rock to create a foundation or base for the drive.  You then run all the heavy equipment across this to let it take the beating and firmly set it into the sub-soil.  When the last big piece of equipment leaves, you bring in the final coating of driveway gravel, topping the base and finishing the drive.  Because our project will take so long to get to the "driveway finish gravel", we will operate with the "large aggregate base" for a few years.  It will work fine; just not real pretty.  Now, the heart-stopper.  If the state were building an interstate or even a township road, this would be a drop in the bucket.  By comparison, Liberty is a big drop in the bucket in my little world.  When the estimate for base aggregate gravel hits 25 full semi-truckloads, it really kicks in.  Yep, about 1,000,000 (that's one million) pounds of rock. (**UPDATE** Well the driveway is done and I under-estimated....slightly.  We came in closer to 2,700,00 pounds.  Time for a new calculator) That's without the finish gravel that will be required a few years down the road (forgive the pun)....... Be careful what you wish for............

WHAT ABOUT ELECTRICITY....OR ARE YOU GOING "SOLAR"  Don't laugh; it was a consideration.  Solar is truly the eco-friendly energy statement, but it ain't gonna happen here.  First of all, the costs to install and maintain really don't add up to enough of a savings in the long haul to "tilt the scale".  Yes, there would be savings, but when you include the special wiring in the home, the special appliances, no big amperage items (unless you want to fire up the back-up generator)...this includes no air conditioning, and the over-all value it may add or more likely detracts from the home, it got scratched from the list.  Yep, bring me good old juice thru a wire, thank you.  To maintain overall asthetic appeal to the Preserve, we definitely don't want poles.  This means undergound and that means about 60% cost increase in installation.  Fortunately, the power provider is a co-op and installation costs are very reasonable (comparatively).  Unfortunately, though, co-op power is more costly to purchase in the long haul.  Hey, such is life when you want juice in the middle of nowhere.


That's right, next to the driveway.  I walked the proposed driveway with the power company guru to make sure this is gonna work.  He responded by saying "we don't do very many of 'em this long, but it can be done".  He wants 10 feet min next to the drive to allow room for the dirt to pile up on both sides of the trench and not fall into and mess up the base gravel of the roadway.  It also allows an area in case there is ever a need to do maintainance and dig it up.  This all becomes part of the driveway route engineering and has already been forecasted. When the time comes to bring in the juice, the driveway-electric route will already be cleared and ready. 

The details for the actual driveway excavation and construction can be found within the Driveway Development page








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