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< prev - next > Transport and infrastructure Road building KnO 100387_Improving paths and tracks 2 (Printable PDF)
Paths and tracks that cross wet and marshy areas are often difficult to traverse. In certain
seasons they may become flooded, preventing the passage of both goods and people. If there
is no alternative access, rural areas may be effectively cut off during rainy periods of the year.
It is possible to build or improve paths through marshy areas, but the solutions tend to be
expensive because of the amount of tools, labour, supervision and, sometimes, materials
required. Careful planning is
required to estimate the amount
of resources that will be needed
to carry out the improvement
works. The ‘cost’ can then be
balanced against the potential
benefits that the improved access
will bring.
Figure 1a: Stepping stones: flat stones are not suitable
The simplest and most obvious
solution is to re-route the path
around the marshy area. It can usually be assumed, however, that if this were possible it
would have already been done by the local people themselves. This Technical Brief describes
the techniques that can be used to improve paths and tracks which must pass through wet
and marshy areas.
Similar problems occur where paths cross areas of loose sand, and some of the techniques
used for marshy areas are also applicable in these situations. For this reason a brief note on
improving paths in very sandy areas is included.
It should be emphasised that
flexibility and ingenuity are required
in employing all these techniques.
The approaches described should be
used as models to be adapted as
necessary to particular local
Marshy areas
There are three main ways in which
paths which cross wet or marshy
areas can be improved:
Stepping stones or stone
causeways, in which large
stones are firmly set into the
ground to provide a stable
Rafts or boardwalks, in which a
timber walkway is built to sit on
top of the wet soil; and
Large block of wedge-
shaped stone (150 mm
min. dimensions)
500mm approx.
Figure 1b: Stepping stone causeway
Bed of small
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