Guide to Converting Distressed Low-Volume Paved Roads to Unpaved Roads

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  03/23/2020


In rural Minnesota and across rural counties in other states, many low-volume roads constructed in the 1970s and 1980s have aged and deteriorated, requiring significant maintenance. However, local agency budgets have tightened and cannot accommodate all rural roads in need of resurfacing. The conversion of severely distressed low-volume paved roads to engineered unpaved, or gravel, roads has been practiced throughout the country, though there is little literature about the practice. A 2015 National Cooperative Highway Research Program synthesis presents this practice in detail. Minnesota's Local Road Research Board wanted to present material from this study relevant to Minnesota in an accessible, succinct guide for road managers to make this road conversion process an acceptable part of low-volume road management. Researchers created a guide that addresses the common questions road managers ask and presents the conversion process clearly and logically. Local road managers can consult the guide and accompanying video to determine if conversion of distressed low-volume roads to better, economically engineered unpaved roads is an appropriate solution for them.

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