2. Property Access (Roads)

The fact that you could drive to your property when it was purchased does not necessarily guarantee that you, your guests, or emergency service vehicles can achieve that same level of access at all times of the year. Please consider:

2.1 Emergency Response

Emergency response times for sheriff, fire suppression, medical care, etc., cannot be guaranteed in rural areas. Under some extreme conditions, you may find that emergency response is extremely slow and expensive.
A country road rolls on into the distance.

2.2 Legal Aspects

There can be problems with the legal aspects of access to a property, especially if you gain access across property belonging to others via privately owned easements or access roads. It is wise to obtain legal advice and understand the easements that may be necessary when these types of questions arise.

2.3 County Roads

Klickitat County maintains 1,084 miles of County roads of which 30 miles are unimproved dirt, 633 are gravel and 421 miles are paved. If the road to your property is gravel, it is highly unlikely that Klickitat County will pave it without financing from the adjoining property owners through a Road Improvement District. Check carefully with the County Public Works Department when the seller of any property indicates any gravel road will be paved.

2.4 Road Maintenance

It is possible to experience problems with the maintenance and costs of maintaining your road. Although Klickitat County maintains over 1,000 miles of road, many rural properties are served by privately owned access roads, which are maintained by homeowners associations, private parties or other landowners. There are some County roads not maintained by the County year round - (no grading or snowplowing). There are some public roads and right of ways that are not maintained by anyone. Make sure you know what type of maintenance to expect and who will provide that maintenance. State law prohibits maintaining or plowing private roads by the County.
A snow covered curve in the road.

2.5 Using County Roads in Extreme Weather

In extreme weather, even County maintained roads can become impassable. You may need at least a four wheel drive vehicle with chains for all four wheels to attempt travel during these episodes, which could last for several days. School buses and other types of vehicles may not be able to travel during these times. There are several primitive County roads, with no warning signs, that may be impassable when wet or closed in the winter.

2.6 Withstanding Extreme Weather

Extreme weather conditions can destroy roads. Some public and private roads are not built to proper standards and may not hold up during the spring thaw. Load restrictions will be placed on County roads to prevent truck traffic from damaging them, so plan to haul rock before your access road becomes impassable.

2.7 Narrow Roads

Many large construction vehicles cannot navigate small, narrow roads. If you plan to build, it is prudent to check out construction access, especially for delivery of a manufactured/modular home. A permit to move an over-width/overweight vehicle is needed from the County Public Works Department.

2.8 Road Dust

Gravel roads generate dust. Klickitat County does not treat roads to suppress dust. If you reside near an unpaved road you may want to investigate having the road treated for dust suppression by one of the contractors authorized by the County to do that work.

2.9 Washboard Roads

Gravel roads are not always smooth. Such roads often develop a "washboard" pattern when they are dry and become muddy with potholes during the spring thaw. You will experience an increase in vehicle maintenance costs when you regularly travel on gravel County roads. Also, be aware that speeds in excess of 35 mph increase the rate of gravel road deterioration. Per State law, the speed limit for all unposted County roads is 50 mph, but road and weather conditions should dictate your driving speed.

2.10 School Buses

School buses travel only on maintained County roads designated as school bus routes by the school district. You may need to drive your children to the nearest bus stop so they can get to school. Buses travel on so many miles of road it is impossible to assign a higher priority to one school bus route over another. Be sure to check with your local school district. The school bus may be delayed or not be able to make it to every bus stop during a snow event.

2.11 Snow

Snow can become a problem for property access as several feet can accumulate during the winter. Under most conditions, maintained County roads will be plowed within two days. Packed snow and/or ice generally remains on plowed roads until the weather moderates, creating "slush", which also provides very difficult driving conditions. Snowplows will place berms across driveways and in front of mailboxes. You will be responsible for keeping your driveway and mailboxes clear.
A fallen tree hovers over a snow covered road.

2.12 Flooding

Natural disasters, especially floods, can destroy roads. Look out for water over the roadway. Klickitat County will repair and maintain County roads. Private roads, including private subdivision roads, are the responsibility of the landowners using the roads. Repairs and/or reconstruction of private roads after floods represent a significant expense to affected residents. A dry creek bed can become a raging torrent and wash out roads, bridges, and culverts. Floods can change the landscape; a new creek or ditch may be formed on your property during a major flood event.

2.13 Private Drive

A private approach to a County road must be permitted by the Public Works Department. Adequate drainage and site distance is required prior to a permit being issued.

2.14 Mail Delivery

Mail delivery may not be available to all areas of the County. Ask the postmaster to describe the system for your area.

2.15 Newspaper Delivery

Newspaper delivery is not always available to rural areas. Check with the newspaper of your choice before assuming you can get delivery.

2.16 Standard & Overnight Package Delivery

Standard parcel and overnight package delivery can be a problem for those who live in the country. Confirm with the service providers as to your status.

2.17 Road Vegetation Management

A residual herbicide treatment program is performed to prevent vegetation from encroaching into the paved portion of County roads. This is a maintenance type of program performed following manufacturers label recommended rates for residual season long total vegetation control.

2.18 Noxious Weed Control

All roads in the County are subject to treatment for noxious weeds. State Law mandates that the landowner is responsible for the control of noxious weeds so it is the duty of the County to comply.

2.19 Mowing Roadways

The mowing of roadways is used to control vegetation in populated areas, organic farming communities and areas with a high water table.

2.20 Brush Control

The County Public Works Department crews do brush removal either manually or mechanically. To delay regrowth, a maintenance program using brush control herbicides is performed, usually in the late summer or early fall.