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Public Works

Phone: 913-715-8300

1800 W Old Highway 56, Olathe, KS 66061

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Bridges

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Culverts & Ditches

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Gravel Roads

Blading Gravel Road

Johnson County Public Works and Infrastructure is responsible for the maintenance and construction of the Gravel Roads in unincorporated Johnson County.  They are a vital first link in the local economy and are more than a third of county maintained roadways. 
 
Gravel Road Maintenance
To reduce dust and loose rock on the road surface, only minimal blading of gravel roads is performed during dry weather.  This may result in a few more chuck holes and wash board areas.  However, the net result will be a driving surface that is safer for the traveling public.  The grader operator may windrow loose rock on the road shoulder.  Motorists should be careful to avoid driving on this windrow.
 
When we blade our gravel roads we try to wait until after it has rained so they are easier to blade.  A good blend of rock, sand and clay makes a good surface material and the clay is cohesive. When moistened the clay becomes sticky and is almost impermeable to water flow and has low strength when wet.  The fine sand and fines fill the voids between the larger stones so the mixture can be compacted.  If we are adding a new layer of rock (usually 2"-4") to the road we bring our own water and wet the rock mixture as needed during the blading operation.
 
We cut the existing surface 2” to 6” to get a good blend of rock and fines and we ensure that we are creating a crown that is 5” to 7” higher than the shoulders. The crown in the most important design element of a gravel road.  The crown improves drainage and ease of maintenance and this degree of slope should drain the surface water without washing off the surface material.

Crown in the Road

As a gravel road is used its original shape changes. The crown will become flattened and chuck holes will develop. Surface materials are eventually blown, plowed or washed away.  The road surface and shoulders must be smoothed and reshaped with a motor grader as often as necessary for the amount and kind of use the road receives.
 
Road Dust

Road dust is essentially limestone dust that is kicked up by traffic traveling on the road.  Tires grind the limestone on the road and make a continuous supply of fine material. Once the dust is kicked up by traffic it is blown by the wind.  Houses downwind from the prevailing wind will have more dust than those upwind.  In Johnson County, road dust is more of a problem on the north and east sides of a gravel road than it is on the south and west sides of the road.  The Public Works Department recommends that all houses be built at least 300 feet from a gravel road in order to reduce some problems associated with road dust to a reasonable level. 

Many people do not realize how serious the dust problem can be until living in a new house for a number of months.  The Public Works Department has seen a trend that people are not satisfied with living on a gravel road for an extended period of time.  Many people expect that they can leave their windows open and enjoy the country air.  However, they later find they may need to keep their windows closed to prevent road dust from entering the house.   Although dust is not considered a carcinogen, it can pose health problems for persons with allergies and other respiratory problems.

Traffic Increases

You should be aware that there will be traffic increases on most roads in the rural area.  Most gravel roads are section line roads that occur at one-mile intervals.  These section line roads on the county's long-range plan are scheduled to be major arterial roads.  This means that as the county develops, the gravel roads will eventually turn into 4-lane roads.  The County does not have a program to upgrade gravel roads to blacktop roads or 4-lane roads with county tax money.   These improvement projects are normally made after the area is annexed.   The cities usually form benefit districts and the adjacent landowners pay for the cost to upgrade the road.   If the area is not annexed, it is unlikely that the County will upgrade the gravel road to a blacktop road. 

Snow Removal

County road crews are responsible for snow removal and ice control during adverse weather conditions. Crews are ready to respond 24 hours a day 7 days a week. During snow removal operations, crews focus on clearing and maintaining paved main line roadways. When mainline roads have been cleared and treated secondary paved roads and finally paved subdivision streets are addressed. The County does not treat gravel roads with salt or sand, however we will attempt to blade off the snow when accumulations are greater than four inches or when drifting becomes a problem. The Public Works Department can be reached during snow removal operations by calling 913-715-8353.

Paved Roads

Paved Road

General Maintenance Guidelines:

  1. Asphalt roads are divided and maintenance is considered separately for local streets and arterial streets.  This is due to different traffic volumes and types of vehicles.
    1. Arterial streets are generally defined as section line roads
    2. Local streets are generally residential or commercial
  1. Crack Sealing is considered, planned, and budgeted to support asphalt maintenance but is a separate item.
  2. Asphalt Roads are reviewed annually and items such as when the last maintenance treatment was applied, the type of maintenance, the age of the road from original construction, the condition of the road, ADT, and budget are used to determine if and what type of maintenance is needed. 
  3. Asphalt Roads generally will have an independent review and survey to assess their condition every 3 to 5 years.
  1. Arterial Asphalt Street Maintenance
    1. PMI will be kept at 70 or higher.  This would be defined as free from potholes
    2. Asphalt roads are generally expected to last 50 to 75 years depending on traffic.  Reconstruction is planned on these cycles.  Included in the pavement inventory is the best guess original asphalt construction date for each road.
    3. The general maintenance cycle for arterial asphalt roads is as follows:
      • Initial construction
      • 2-3 years crack sealing activities start after initial construction or an overlay and are maintained as needed throughout the life of the road
      • 5 - 7 year chip or nova seal cycle after initial construction
      • 2 inch overlay 10 to 15 years after initial construction
      • After overlay the cycle repeats until reconstruction;
      • Milling is undertaken after enough structural base has been established typically a minimum of 8” or when edge drop-offs become an issue
  1. There are multiple maintenance options available: overlays, chips seal, slurry seal, micro seals, and nova chip.  Generally, the life cycle described above will be implemented.  However, it is not intended to be a set in stone schedule.  The following is a brief discussion as to what each of the maintenance techniques is intended to address. 
    • Overlays will be used when the existing surface has cracking or other defects that cannot be addressed by chip seals or nova chips.  Overlays are also used when the existing structure is less than 8 inches.
    • Chip Seal is used to seal pavement surfaces that do not have excessive cracking or deterioration.  Chip seal is generally not used on roads with less than 8” of structure.  Chip Seal is generally not used on roads with traffic counts greater than 1200 ADT.  
    • Nova Chip is used to seal pavement surfaces that do not have excessive cracking or deterioration.  Nova Chip is generally not used on roads with less than 8” of structure.  Nova chip is used on roads with traffic counts greater than 1200 or with high truck traffic.  Nova chip can be used when there are edge drop off issues that cannot be addressed and are worsened if an overlay is used.
  1. Local Asphalt Street Maintenance
    1. PMI will be kept at 80 or higher.
    2. Four maintenance options are available: overlays, chips seal, and slurry seals. 
      • Overlays will be used when the existing surface has cracking or other defects that cannot be addressed by chip seals or nova chips.  Overlays are also used when the existing structure is less than 8 inches.
      • Chip Seal is used to seal pavement surfaces that do not have excessive cracking or deterioration.  Chip seal is generally not used on roads with less than 8” of structure.  Chip Seal is generally not used on roads with traffic counts greater than 1200 ADT. 
      • Slurry is used to seal pavement surfaces that do not have excessive cracking or deterioration.  Nova Chip is generally not used on roads with less than 8” of structure.  Nova chip is used on roads with traffic counts greater than 1200 or with high truck traffic.  Nova chip can be used when there are edge drop off issues that cannot be addressed and are worsened if an overlay is used.

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Right of Ways

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Snow & Ice Removal

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