Notes from Windward: #59

Working on the new entrance

Brad's dozer working on the west end of the new entrance
The New Entrance is one of our "perrenial projects" here at Windward, and each year we try to move it further along. This year, we've made substantial progress, so it's time for an update.

Currently there's no direct access to Windward from the main county road. Wahkiacus Heights Road winds its way 1200' up from the river before reaching the top of the breaks. We're located about a mile back from the breaks, and the road forms Windward's eastern boundary. The county road lies to the east of the seasonal creek that drains much of the snow melt from the heights, and when this land was parceled out for development, it was easier and cheaper for the developer to come in from Long Road instead of the main road.

Long Road is actually a short road that runs for the half mile needed to connect the county road with the Long family homestead. Currently you get to Windward by turning off Wahkiacus Heights Road onto Long road, and then going west for a quarter mile. Then you turn onto Windward Lane and go for 660 feet to get to our property line. We have a dedicated easement over that eighth mile, but easements are always a problem waiting to happen. It will be much better when we own the entrance to Windward outright.

Once you're on Windward land, you still have another 1,500 feet of driveway to get to what we call "the landing" which is where the office and garage are. Much of the housing is another 500 feet beyond that. The upshot is that there's a lot of road there to maintain and, in winter, to keep clear of snow. We have a 24" snowblower, so it takes three round-trips to clear the road enough for the city cars to be able to get in and out. On just the long straight part of the driveway alone, that adds up to two and a quarter miles! That's a lot of time walking behind a snowblower repeating to yourself over and over that there's got to be a better way

Moving more dirt down to the culvert
It quickly became appearent that the "better way" was to construct a new enterance from the county road. Wahkiacus Heights road heads in a north-westerly direction, so while it's a quarter mile away at our southeastern corner, it actually touches our northeastern corner. By creating a new, more northerly entrance, we could cut out three eighths of a mile of driveway. That would also enable people to get to Windward by turning directly off of Wahkiacus Heights road instead of having to take that jog west on Long Road. The simpler the directions, the better.

There were two obstacles that have to be dealt with in order to make this work. First of all, there's a seasonal creek that has to be crossed. Two years ago, we installed a twenty-four inch diameter culvert to handle the water flow, and last year we built up the road bed with rocks and dirt to the point where the culverts were covered and the new entrance became passable.

The new entrance point on Wahkiacus Heights Road
The other problem has to do with making the new entrance all weather. As the land lays, going from the county road down to the culvert and then back up again to Windward's existing driveway involves dealing with a steep incline. Since we can't do anything to lower the elevation of either the starting point or the ending point, we're working on raising the elevation of the road bed over the culvert.

For the last two years, whenever we do excavation, we've been loading up the dirt and hauling it down to the culvert. The front bucket on a backhoe makes for a marvelous powered "wheelbarrow". Whenever we cull a load of rocks out of the garden area or a holding pen, down they go to the culvert too. So far, we've been able to build up the roadbed over the culvert by at least two feet.

Brad is a local dozer operator who's currently doing some work for one of our new neighbors. It's spendy to pay for the travel costs on a dozer, so when someone else pays to have heavy equipment brought up the hill, we always try to take advantage of the opportunity. In this case, we had Brad excavate the bank to remove two sharp turns by creating one long sweeping turn. That offered an added bonus since the dirt he excavated in the process added a lot of fill to the low point in the road.

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