A Look At Road Culverts

Our Friend Don is getting a good look at a clear culvert

Once you understand how important a cleared culvert is to a healthy road it will change how you look at them forever!

A blocked or collapsing culvert is a road killer.  It is only a matter of time before water will back up and wash out the road.  The photo to the right is catch basin in front of a culvert that has become overwhelmed by silt and debris.  As the debris fills the catch basin the diameter of the culvert shrinks, causing the water to flow slower and slower until eventually it backs up and washes over the roadbed.

Every year severe forest road damage occurs due to blocked culverts.  Sometimes a whole slope will slide during the wet seasons and bury a culvert, and there is nothing that could have been done to prevent it from happening, but any blocked culvert will, over time, cause some degree of road damage, and this could lead the various government agencies to close or decommission the road.

Every season many hours are spent by FFPU volunteers to look for culverts that may potentially back up during the next year's rainy season and spring snow melt.  The culvert in the photo to the right has branches across its inlet that will build up with other debris that will create a dam not allowing water to flow under the roadbed.  The catch basin is also completely filled with branches and other woody matter.

This culvert outlet was cleared during one of the FFPU work parties and is good for another season.  Notice the placement of rocks at the edge of the culvert's opening.  These rocks are an important part of the ditch protecting this drainage from eroding.

"Friends" removing garbage & debris from a catch basin

The catch basin, which collects runoff and reroutes the water to flow into the culvert, is just as important to keep clear as the culvert itself.  Next time you see a branch laying across a culvert or other easily removable debris consider this, by removing it to the lower slope of the road, you may have just avoided future road damage.