Road Approach Maintenance/Repair

What is a road approach?

A road approach connects private vehicle access to the county-road system. It is the interface between a county road and a privately owned driveway or private (non-county) road. Road approaches must be constructed to Jefferson County Public Works standards to ensure the safety and welfare of road users and to protect the integrity of the county-road system.

A road approach features a radius on each side to allow turning traffic to enter and exit the county road. In areas with ditches, each road approach includes one or more culverts – pipes under the approach that allow ditch water to flow largely as it did prior to the construction of the approach.

Where can I find information on constructing a new road approach or modifying a road approach?

This page only addresses maintenance and repair of existing approaches. An approach permit is required before installing, modifying or extending a road approach. See the Right-of-Way Permits & Vacations page for information on approach permits.

What maintenance and repair can County staff perform on road approaches?

County crews can, when required to protect the roadway, unblock or flush out the culvert under an approach, provided the culvert is in good condition. County crews will maintain any county-road ditch within county right of way surrounding an approach to facilitate the movement of water.

On occasion, it is necessary for County crews to work with permittees to place small berms across the beginning of an approach to direct water, either keeping water from the roadway from running down an approach or keeping water from the approach off the road surface. On occasion, county crews will also grade or slope the beginning of the approach to correct its drainage and protect the roadway.

What maintenance and repair is required of the approach owner?

County crews are not responsible for repair of an approach culvert, replacement of a culvert or extending a culvert. County crews will not reinforce or rebuild the base of an approach or repair damage to an approach. County crews will not add material to a gravel approach, patch potholes or fill cracks in an approach, resurface an approach or otherwise perform maintenance of the approach.

The approach permittee or owner is responsible for doing all of the above.

The owner is also responsible for maintaining approach sight distance along the county road. Drivers using the approach to access the county road must be able to see approaching traffic to enter the county road safely. While County crews perform regular mowing and brush-cutting operations, the owner is responsible for maintaining adequate sight distance by removing vegetation that impedes visibility. The following data from American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials lists the minimum recommended sight distance that a driver entering the county road must be able to see in each direction (data are for passenger vehicles):

County road speed limit
Sight distance from approach
 15 MPH
170 feet
 20 MPH
225 feet
 25 MPH
280 feet
 30 MPH
335 feet
 35 MPH
390 feet
 40 MPH
445 feet
 45 MPH
500 feet
 50 MPH
555 feet
 55 MPH
610 feet

Will the County pave the approach to my driveway or private road?

In general, no. You are responsible for maintaining the grade of the approach: matching the grade of the county road; preventing runoff from the driveway or private road from reaching the county road; and preventing gravel and other material from the driveway or private road from being tracked onto the county road.

However, in certain cases when the County contracts for the complete repaving of a county road with asphalt, the contractor may be directed to pave the first five to ten feet of each approach on that road to protect the county road from debris and to prevent future maintenance issues.

What are some good guidelines for maintaining road approaches?

Please do not:

  1. Neglect a road approach or assume that the County will maintain it for you.
  2. Construct, modify or extend an approach or approach culvert without a valid permit from Jefferson County Public Works.
  3. Close, block or bury the open ends of an approach culvert or attach an approach culvert to any other culvert.
  4. Construct landscaping fixtures on either end of an approach culvert that would make it difficult or impossible for the ditch and culvert to be opened by county equipment in the case of blockage.
  5. Plant landscaping or build fences that impede approach sight distance.
  6. Use an approach culvert as a route for wires, cables or hoses.
Road approaches which are improperly maintained or repaired may be removed by the Public Works Department at the owner's expense. 

Please do:

  1. Maintain the grade of the approach so runoff from rain and snow does not flow from the approach to the county road.
  2. Maintain unpaved approaches with a surface coat of good gravel that is compacted to prevent tracking of rock and mud into the county road.
  3. If the paved county road adjacent to your approach is full of rock, mud or other debris tracked from your approach into the road, address the issue for the safety of other drivers, motorcyclists and bicyclists and to keep your neighborhood looking good.
    • Clean mud and debris from vehicles and equipment prior to entering the county-road system.
    • For approaches that see heavy truck or equipment traffic or that access muddy driveways or roads, maintain an approach surface of larger clean rock (4”-8” quarry spalls) so tires shed mud prior to entering the county road.
    • Unpaved approaches that see heavy traffic, such as approaches to home business or commercial properties, should be paved to address this issue.
  4. Inspect and maintain the approach culvert, if present. Remove dirt, rock and vegetative debris from the culvert when needed to keep it flowing. Repair or replace (with a new permit) the culvert when its condition warrants.
  5. Fill potholes, grade or repave and otherwise maintain the approach surface to minimize vehicular damage to the county road adjacent to the approach.

My road approach needs maintenance or repair. Who do I call?

  • Call a contractor to perform maintenance or repair that falls within your responsibilities.
  • Before installing, modifying or extending a road approach, see the Right-of-Way Permits & Vacations page for information on approach permits.
  • If you believe maintenance or repair by the County is warranted, such as work required to clear a drainage blockage or to address a public-safety concern, contact the Road Maintenance Division at 360-385-0890 or complete the online problem report.

Where can I find regulations regarding road approaches?

Washington State law on road approaches is found at RCW 36.75.130:

Approaches to county roads—Rules regarding construction—Penalty.

(1) No person shall be permitted to build or construct any approach to any county road without first obtaining permission therefor from the board.

(2) The boards of the several counties of the state may adopt reasonable rules for the construction of approaches which, when complied with, shall entitle a person to build or construct an approach from any abutting property to any county road. The rules may include provisions for the construction of culverts under the approaches, the depth of fills over the culverts, and for such other drainage facilities as the board deems necessary. The construction of approaches, culverts, fills, or such other drainage facilities as may be required, shall be under the supervision of the county road engineer, and all such construction shall be at the expense of the person benefited by the construction.

(3) Any person violating this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Additionally, the Jefferson County Code addresses road approaches in chapter 12.05. Section 12.05.050 is most relevant to maintenance and repair of road approaches:

Any person, firm or corporation who has received a permit to construct an approach, in accordance with design as set forth under JCC 12.05.030, who fails to construct and maintain the approach properly shall be subject to its removal from the county road right of way by county road crews and equipment. The county (for its trouble in doing so) shall be compensated by the confiscation and disposal of any culvert and/or materials so removed from the approach. Confiscated material so removed shall be disposed of as directed by the board of county commissioners and the proceeds thereof deposited in the county road fund. Before any such removal may be undertaken however, the county engineer shall give the permittee, or his successor in interest, an opportunity to correct the condition within a 30-day period following written notice of the intended action. [Ord. 9-92 § 4]