Gravel Driveway Turnarounds for safe EMS operations

When disaster strikes, having appropriately sized Fire Turnarounds and Turnouts in your driveway system could mean life or death. Not just yours or your family's but the lives of the men and women responding to your needs!

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Gravel Driveways Part II

written by: adam medeiros

In our last article, Anatomy of a Gravel Driveway, we took a look at how gravel driveways are constructed layer by layer. In this article, we are going to focus on curves, turns, EMS turnouts and turnarounds.

Curves and turns can get too tight. Who would want to come home from a long day and wrestle their steering wheel to do a 3-point turn in order to get to the house? Me neither and neither do EMS and delivery drivers. Also, cranking the wheel on your gravel driveway or your asphalt can shorten the life of your driveway.

Fortunately, the counties have helped us out. Let's study some drawings.

In the above drawing that I received from Will Anderson, the Whatcom County Fire Marshal, we can see that the very minimum outer radius needs to be 40 feet. From that same point, the inner radius - at a minimum - needs to be 25 feet. The larger these radii, the easier it will be to turn.

The drawing also gives us guidelines on grades. As you can see, if the grade is greater than or equal to 12%, we need a 2 1/2 inch compacte​d top course of Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA). Greater than or equal to 15% slope and you'll need to pour concrete and it needs to have grooves in it to help avoid sliding on snow or ice. We also see that our driveway cannot go beyond 18% slope.

The notes in the above Drawing - 505.E-6 - make a nice segway into Turnarounds. We want the EMS vehicles to get close to our homes, but not too close. Nor do we want them too far away. In the case of a fire, the less hose that needs to be used to put the house out, the better. So, with new construction, Whatcom County wants the center of your turnaround - or center of the EMS vehicle - to be no closer than 50 feet to the structure and no further than 150 feet away.

Depending on your lot, here are some options:

Residential Gravel Driveway and Driveway Turnaround Options for Whatcom County and Bellingham Area

A turnout is another item to consider while planning your driveway. You'll notice that the minimum driveway section width, as seen above, is 12 feet wide. Two vehicles will not be able to pass one another in the event of an emergency utilizing multiple vehicles such as an ambulance and a fire truck. At some point along your driveway, you'll need to widen it to 20 feet wide for a distance of ​30 feet long. Turnarounds and turnouts are especially crucial in the dark.

Whatcom County Road Standards Skagit County Road Standards Whatcom County Roadway Guidelines Whatcom County Residential Driveway Examples Snohomish County Road Standards & Examples

In our next article in this series, we'll look at road encroachments, drainage and culverts. See you then!

If you are looking for a gravel driveway contractor to h​elp you with your project and y​ou are located in Skagit county, Snohomish county, or Whatcom county, please give us a call or send us an email! WE LOVE THIS STUFF!!!

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