Larry Torti, a Rhode Island-based paving contractor, has devised a “green” method of using recycled crushed asphalt, which he secures by spraying on liquid asphalt, then adding a final application of colored agate that imparts an aesthetic appearance.
Homeowner Bob Nilsen of Mystic, Conn., knew he wanted something different than a traditional blacktop driveway for his home. He soon found out the look he longed for — cobblestone — was out of his price range (it cost more than $100,000) for his large driveway (300 feet).
Nilsen’s search ended with Larry Torti, a Rhode Island-based paving contractor, who has devised a “green” method of using recycled crushed asphalt, which he secures by spraying on liquid asphalt, then adding a final application of colored agate that imparts an aesthetic appearance.
“I liked the look of crushed stone, but I also wanted a driveway that was somewhat permeable so water would go down through it so I wouldn’t have the run-off as I did before,” Nilsen said.
The color Nilsen and his wife, Martha, chose was tan, because it complements the color of their house, which is a natural shade of a tan/gray stain, with beige trim.
“We also have a lot of combinations of shrubs and grass and a stone wall, and it fits in with a more rustic look, rather than a paved driveway that was just a black driveway,” Nilsen said.
His driveway is situated on a ledge, which led to some undulations in the blacktop, causing it to crack and develop sinkholes. He was looking for a driveway that had more flexibility, which he felt the Torti system would give him. Traditional blacktop, he said, comes in thick 2- to 3-inch asphalt sheets.
“This material won’t crack; it’s not as rigid and thick,” Nilsen said about the Torti system.
Torti, based in Chepacet, R.I., created the unique application — based on the macadam process — in 1971, well ahead of his time concerning recycled material. He has been featured twice on “This Old House” on PBS. Both homes he outfitted for the TV program were in Massachusetts.
He is assisted by Karen Maddalena, who comes to owners’ homes to give free quotes. He also has a crew that has been with him for 18 years to 20 years, but Torti, who said he looks forward to work every day, supervises each job.
The crew removes the old blacktop, then grades the driveway. Next, they lay down a layer of recycled asphalt, which they roll with a 3,000-pound asphalt roller. Once they spray it with liquid asphalt — heated to 360 degrees — they can broadcast the 3/8-inch-thick stone on top. The stone is spread by hand from a chipper box, which rolls backwardsonto the driveway, and the irregular-shaped stones, like arrowheads, key into one another.
The colors offered are blends of stone, with combinations that can be blues and grays, barn red, tan, blush and mauve.
Once completed, the driveway is tough enough to withstand a 30-ton truck rolling along it with no cracking. It also gives excellent traction during icy conditions and requires minimal maintenance — just a new coat of liquid asphalt and grit stone every decade.
The color can be changed if the homeowner wishes. And Torti, who said he takes care to curve the driveways and make them aesthetically pleasing to the landscape, said a lot of people will hire landscaper architects, “but they don’t have to.”
Reach Norwich Bulletin writer Sharma Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org