In India, the rural roads mostly consist of gravel and earth roads. While these roads are lifeline for rural communities, they are difficult to maintain. It is because most of the gravel and earth roads often deteriorate rapidly, especially in the wet season, disrupting mobility and transport services. Another problem associated with such roads is that they have a very short life as they often witness constant wear and erosion. Thus, it goes without saying that gravel roads require far more frequent maintenance than paved roads, especially after wet spells and when used by high traffic volumes or heavy commercial vehicles. Here comes the importance of maintenance of earth and gravel roads in India.

The road construction equipment that is best suited for construction and maintenance of earth and gravel roads is motor graders. If routine maintenance of such roads is carried out by motor graders, then they can help in keeping the road in good condition.

Here is a look at how motor graders can help in maintenance of earth and gravel roads...

1. Levelling and maintaining surface: The first step toward successfully maintaining the gravel and earth road is levelling and maintaining surface. For that, the following steps need to be followed:

a) The moldboard should be rotated so that the toe is on the right side of the grader at about 50 to 60 degree angle to the frame.

b) The blade should be pitched half way.

c) The blade should be made centre shift until the left lift cylinder is straight up and down.

d) The front wheels should be leaned to the left.

e) The moldboard should be lowered until the toe and heel slightly touch the ground.

f) The grader should be placed in motion and when the moldboard crosses the project start line, enough downward pressure should be applied on both the heel and the toe to penetrate the surface on a level plain about 1/2 inch.

g) A straight course should be maintained by adjusting the moldboard slightly to carry the material the length of the project.

h) The material should be feathered at the end of the pass.

i) The motor grader should be stopped and the front wheels should be straightened after the material is feathered to a smooth termination.

j) Both the cylinders should be raised all the way.

k) The grader should be positioned in a way so as to straddle the windrow just made and back the grader to the starting point while ensuring the windrow is between the wheels.

l) The grader should be stopped just outside of the project boundary line.

This process should be repeated till the entire area is levelled.

2. Grading: Reshaping of the travelling surface through removal of all potholes and/or washboards and the re-establishment of the crown of the unpaved road is called the grading process. Motor graders can perform the grading task easily by cutting the surface of the unpaved road to the bottom of the potholes and/or washboards and then spreading the material across the surface of the roadway.

3. Maintaining ditch drainage: The most important and common drainage feature needed on an earth and gravel road is the roadside ditch. The ditch must be cleaned if it becomes obstructed from eroded soil or debris and motor graders can be used to restore ditch drainage.

4. Restoring shoulder drainage: Motor grader’s mouldboard can easily help to recover loose material and move it back on the roadway to restore shoulder drainage.

5. Reshaping shoulder shape: Problems with surface and shoulder shape can also be corrected with the motor grader as they can cut the material and relay it to the proper shape and crown. Here, it is to be kept in mind that the operating speed of the motor grader must be kept low in order to ensure a good shaping job.

6. Eliminating high shoulders along the edges of the gravel roads: Motor graders equipped with shouldering disc attachment can even ease the process of eliminating high shoulders along the edges of gravel roads.

7. Adding stabilisation products into gravel roads: The task of adding stabilisation products or incorporating dust control agents into gravel roads can also be performed by motor graders. For that, motor graders loosen the surface, apply the product and then make many passes to mix the product prior to compacting and finishing the surface.

8. Reshaping of gravel roads and making the process easier, safer and faster: Generally recovered gravel, either from a high shoulder or a ditch, contains clumps of sod which definitely should be removed before the reuse of the gravel. Motor graders equipped with windrow pulverisers can quickly and effectively remove these clumps. This eliminates the need for the material to be moved back and forth multiple times to break up the sod.

Overall, earth and gravel roads can be maintained by routine blading process and adding gravel where necessary. However, prolonged wet weather conditions or very heavy traffic can make grading and shaping necessary at any time. In addition, significant rutting, loss of crown and deep ditches are the few circumstances that can necessitate more substantial repair work. In all the scenarios, motor graders with its variety of attachments can be most appropriately used for maintenance of earth and gravel roads in the country.

To sum up...

In a country like India where nearly 40 per cent roads are rural unpaved roads (gravel and earth), the importance of road maintenance cannot be undermined. This gives rise to the need of motor graders that can adopt to the Indian scenario and Mahindra Construction Equipment’s Mahindra RoadMaster G75 can vouch for this. RoadMaster G75 offers an affordable, un-compromised and mechanised grading solution for small and medium roads in India. It is an ideal grading machine for spreading and grading of earthwork in different types of roadwork across the nation. It is also best suited for the maintenance of earth and gravel roads in India.