National Asphalt Pavement Association 2004 Outstanding Web Site Award
AFTER one of the most turbulent winters in years, many homeowners are discovering that their driveways have fallen victim to the freeze-thaw cycle.
As snow melts, some of the runoff seeps into cracks and crevices that may be present in an otherwise sturdy-looking driveway. Then, when temperatures drop back below freezing, water trapped inside those cracks and under the driveway expands as it freezes, causing further cracking, crumbling and even heaving — and setting the stage for even more water infiltration and more damage when the next cycle occurs.
There are a number of options for repairing or replacing a damaged driveway.
“What you have to do to repair a driveway depends on how big the cracks and holes are,” said John Fix, the owner of Cornells True Value Hardware in Eastchester, N.Y.
Mr. Fix said that narrow cracks — those no wider than one-quarter inch — could often be filled with liquid crack-fillers sold in most hardware stores and home centers. “If the cracks are real deep, you should backfill them with sand first,” he said.
Slightly larger cracks, Mr. Fix said, can be filled with thicker material that can be troweled into the crack. The material, a tarlike substance with a puttylike consistency, is usually sold in one-gallon cans and costs about $7 a gallon.
For holes in a driveway, he said, it is usually necessary to fill the opening with a patching material and then tamp the material down to compress it as much as possible. Mr. Fix pointed out that before filling a hole, any debris must be cleaned away and any crumbling or loose asphalt removed from the edges.
“You almost have to make it worse to make it better,” Mr. Fix said. “But the more work you put into it, the longer the repair will last.”
Homeowners who do not have the equipment to tamp down the patching material, he said, can improvise.
“You can take a sheet of plywood, put it over the patched hole, and park the car on it for a couple of days,” he said. Mr. Fix added that in most cases, the more expensive patching material adhered better and lasted longer than less expensive material. “You can usually tell the quality of patching material by picking up the bag,” he said. “The better stuff flexes; the cheaper stuff is hard as a rock. Prices range from $5 to $9 a 60-pound bag.”
While filling and patching cracks and holes will provide temporary relief for a problem driveway, it is difficult to make such repairs without leaving tiny cracks and fissures that will allow water to penetrate — and freeze — next year. There is a way, however, to patch an asphalt driveway and leave the surface nearly as good as new.
Thomas Eosso, an owner of Eosso Brothers Paving in Matawan, N.J., said that a machine that uses infrared heat to basically melt the top three inches of driveway surface could help to make seamless, crackless patches or even to fill depressed, sunken areas that allowed water to puddle on the surface.
“I’ve heated up 30-year-old pavement,” Mr. Eosso said, explaining that once the surface was heated sufficiently, the asphalt had nearly the same consistency as it did when first installed. When that happens, he said, additional material can be added and blended with the existing material, and then raked and tamped for a virtually invisible repair.
Since the heating, raking and tamping process takes time and special equipment, the cost varies depending on the extent of the repair, with a minimum charge being about $500. And in some cases, Mr. Eosso said, a driveway is in such bad condition that the only effective solution is to replace it.
In most cases, he said, a standard quality driveway must have a base of at least four inches of three-quarter-inch gravel covered by at least two-and-a-half inches of blacktop.
“After you install the gravel, you should let it sit at least two weeks for settlement,” Mr. Eosso said, adding that installing the asphalt without allowing the gravel to settle will lead to cracks and depressions in the finished product. A contractor must also consider the soil conditions under the driveway to install a driveway that will last. For example, he said, while a standard driveway will perform well on sandy, well-drained soil, additional steps must be taken when the soil is poorly drained clay.
For such conditions, Mr. Eosso said, it is often necessary to excavate down eight inches and then install a water-permeable “road fabric” before backfilling with four inches of gravel. “The fabric allows for drainage but keeps the gravel from sinking into the clay,” he said, adding that after the gravel has settled, it is then topped off with two layers of asphalt. “That’s the gold standard,” he said, adding that such a driveway would cost about $3.25 a square foot, about a dollar more a square foot than a standard driveway.
Mr. Eosso said that there are also a number of options for lining the edges of a new driveway.
“Belgian Block is the best and the most expensive,” he said, referring to large, whitish-gray stone that costs as much $20 a linear foot. Another possibility, he said, is to set paving stones in cement along the edges of the driveway. “Pavers range from $14 to $16 a foot,” he said. Another popular option, Mr. Eosso said, is to use an L-shaped metal bracket called Permalock. “It’s easy to install and it makes the edge perfectly straight,” he said, “And it only costs about $6 a foot.”
Ron Belizze, president of Yonkers Paving Concepts in Yonkers, said that there are also options available for replacing an existing driveway using concrete or interlocking bricks known as paving stones.
Concrete, Mr. Belizze said, while durable, is also expensive. “You can spend anywhere from $6 to as much as $15 a square foot for concrete,” he said, adding that the difference would generally depend upon the thickness of the concrete, with the best-quality driveways being six to eight inches thick.
Another possibility, Mr. Belizze said, is to build a driveway out of interlocking paving blocks. “To do pavers properly, you have to excavate a minimum of eight inches and lay down a bed of crushed rock and stone,” he said, adding that pavers cost $10 to $12 a square foot.
Those who want the look of stone while paying only a bit more than they would pay for asphalt can use “imprinted asphalt” known as StreetPrint, which costs from $5 to $7 a square foot, he said.
“Basically, we install a traditional asphalt driveway and then we lay down steel wire rope templates on the fresh pavement,” Mr. Belizze said. The templates — which act like waffle irons — imprint a texture in the warm asphalt, giving it the look of individually installed paving stones. The asphalt surface is then top-coated with colored polymer material to complete the effect. In addition to enhancing the appearance of the driveway, Mr. Belizze said, the polymer coating seals it and protects against water infiltration and ultraviolet damage.
“The coatings generally last six to eight years,” he said, adding that the driveway can then be recoated for about $1 a square foot. “And if it’s done properly, you’d never know you were standing on asphalt.”
When it comes to repairing old pavement, Infrared Specialists of New Jersey, Matawan, N.J., have earned a reputation for turning problem areas into virtually new pavement. Tom Eosso, officer and part-owner of Infrared Specialists, swears by the infrared method for expanding the life of asphalt. He uses the Total Maintenance Vehicle (TMV), from Ray-Tech Infrared Corp., Charlestown N.H., for his repair work in New Jersey, whether it is repairing bad oil spots and puddles in parking lots, or smoothing out bumps or irregular seams on major highways. Infrared Specialists of New Jersey is a subsidiary of Eosso Brothers Paving. The Eosso brothers — Anthony, Gary, and Tom — started the company after the tremendous success they had using their infrared machines. They appointed their mother, Donna Eosso, president of the company. Infrared Specialists was the first infrared company in New Jersey and Eosso Brothers Paving was the first company to use infrared in the state.
Tom Eosso first learned of the infrared method when he attended a paving conference in Nashville, Tenn., where he met Wes Van Velsor, president of Ray-Tech Infrared Corp. Eosso received information and saw the infrared machine demonstrated and was sold on the idea of using infrared to repair pavement as opposed to cold patching. “I came home and told my brother that I wanted to purchase the machine and he looked at me like I was crazy because we had never even heard of infrared before,” says Eosso. “I told him that I would like to be the first one to have the machine around here, and the business has just skyrocketed since then. When you show people that you can heat through the pavement, it simply amazes them.”
Eosso is well aware of the benefits of infrared repair. Eosso can send out two men with one machine and they can get the entire job done. When comparing infrared to other methods of patching, it is significantly lower in cost, according to Eosso: “It saves the cost of a temporary patch because it can be done in any temperature and it also reduces expense by eliminating the cost of cutting and removing the cold patch material.”
Using their TMV, the Infrared Specialists crews heat the pavement to a workable temperature, then take an asphalt rake and rake the asphalt as if it was brand new material. The TMV has an 8-foot by 6-foot infrared pavement heater that heats a 48-square-foot area, without burning or damaging the asphalt. Eosso is very pleased with his latest infrared machine from Ray-Tech. “Everything is self-contained on this one truck,” says Eosso. “It uses very little labor. My profit margin per day on this machine is higher than anything else I have. Instead of putting cold patches down in the winter, we can fix the pavement with a permanent patch in -10&Mac251; F if we have to.”
Once the old pavement has been heated and raked, Infrared Specialists crews add more asphalt as needed to meet the grade and then compact the area with a 2-ton vibratory roller. “With the infrared method, you get a permanent patch without a seam,” says Eosso. “The infrared actually heats the area so there is no seam and water cannot get into the joint.”
Eosso and his crews used the TMV at the shopping center, Aviation Plaza, in Linden, N.J. George Fuller Co. repaired the pavement of the shopping center’s parking lot and project manager Greg Nordstrom hired Infrared Specialists to fix broken asphalt in areas that were not draining properly. He also had them repair a ramp in front of a Target store that was too low and a trip hazard. “It was in the middle of winter and it was actually too cold to pave,” says Eosso. “But we went in and heated everything up when there was actually snow on the ground.” Nordstrom was impressed with the quality of the repair job. “They heated up the asphalt and reworked it so that it came out the way we needed it to look,” says Nordstrom. “The infrared method was much more cost-effective than ripping out old asphalt and replacing it with new. It was also a much more efficient use of time.”
Infrared Specialists has also done several repair jobs for K. Hovnanian Northeast, a major home developer in New Jersey. Infrared Specialists has helped K. Hovnanian meet spec requirements to satisfy bond issues. “Basically, Infrared Specialists has not come in and initially paved for me, but they have repaired everything else,” says Mark Caverly, manager of bonds and transitions at K. Hovnanian. “Bond issues are very difficult to meet, and Infrared Specialists has done a very good job helping us satisfy our bond requirements.”
Infrared Specialists has repaired everything from major roads to sinkholes and cracks for K. Hovnanian. Caverly was pleased with the work Infrared Specialists has performed. “The infrared method gives a smooth finish and it seals nicely. It has a clean look,” says Caverly.
Eosso has been so pleased with his infrared successes, he is considering scaling back his paving business and concentrating on the clients that demand his quality repair work using the infrared machines. “I get calls every day from people needing my infrared machine,” says Eosso. “My infrared truck goes out three days a week, but I have the work to send it out six days a week if I wanted.”
Well-known for their quality repair work, Infrared Specialists has earned the respect of contractors and agencies alike. “Infrared Specialists are very professional and they stand behind their work,” says Caverly. “They are meticulous and they are everything that you want in a contractor.”
Pavement repair issues such as potholes, utility settlements, trip hazards and water puddling have many communities scratching their heads. These are common problems communities
face as season’s transition from winter to spring. Repairing such problems may be a little easier with patching by way of infrared pavement technology.
The infrared process may be new to many communities, but this technology has been being perfected for over 15 years. Contractors have been offering this process to communities for many reasons. Infrared offers a seamless bond to the surrounding asphalt surfaces, so water will not penetrate the edges and cause premature asphalt failure. This process also can eliminate the need to reconstruct failing areas.
Infrared works on both old and new asphalt surfaces, offering quick and permanent asphalt repairs. In most cases, the area can be re-opened within 15 minutes after completion. Infrared patching also is an effective way to patch in the winter months when asphalt plants are closed down. One of the greatest benefits any contractor can offer a community is a process that saves money. To a community, infrared is cost effective simply because less manpower, equipment, material, debris and working hours equals more savings.
At the start of the infrared process, most contractors mark out areas using a chalk line or paint. To achieve maximum penetration with the infrared, the work area must be thoroughly cleaned of all loose asphalt, dirt, and other debris prior to work being started. The infrared unit will be positioned one foot beyond the work area to assure the unique seamless bond that infrared offers. The heat time from the start to finish can range anywhere from 10-15 minutes per heating application. For example, an area 40’ long and using heating intervals of approximately 15 minutes would take approximately two hours to complete. When the asphalt surface has been reheated to a workable temperature, the area will be raked (scarified) following a straight line and the asphalt will either be removed or added as needed. The area will then be finish raked and checked with a six foot level to assure water is running properly. After the area is swept clean of debris outside of the work area, the patch will be compacted to a smooth finish.
Infrared patching is like a huge heater. The heater is called the chamber and is either truck mounted or trailer mounted. The chamber is heated by propane, which is dispersed by blowers to create radiant heat. Radiant heat penetrates asphalt without burning the oils from the existing pavement surface. The heat chamber is 6’ x 8’ with the option of using half the chamber if needed 4’x6’. The infrared unit is equipped with a two to four ton hot box to either keep new material hot or reclaim old material if needed. Most units have a waste bin to dispose of all debris accumulated from that days work.
The contractor will also use either a roller or compactor to achieve compaction and smooth finish. Typically the infrared process can complete an average anywhere between 800 – 1500 square feet of patching per day. Most contractors charge a daily rate or by the square foot. Temperature and age of the asphalt play an important role in production. The production in the summer, on new asphalt, will be greater than the winter months.
Street hazards can cause injuries. Repairs eliminate potential risks. Infrared makes such repairs easier and more complete, helping to reduce liabilities. Infrared patching can and should be used on many roadways and parking lot problems. This process is an effective way to install speed bumps. Speed bumps take a beating from snow plows during the winter months, but with the infrared process, the new seamless bump leaves no edge for plows or machines to catch. Trip hazards on sidewalks and building entrances can also be addressed using the infrared patching process. Utility settlements can be fixed and leveled to the proper grade using this process.
Water puddling is also a problem, especially during the winter months when ice is present. Water issues are more time consuming than the run-of-the mill pothole. To properly fix a water problem, the contractor must use a grade laser to check the existing grades. This is to assure the contractor can achieve positive water runoff.
Although this process has many benefits, it also has limitations. Infrared is not a cure-all to reconstruction patching. Infrared is not recommended on wide-spread cracking (alligator cracking) or wide cracks. Failed areas in roadways and parking lots originate in the sub base, and the infrared process effectively penetrates two to three inches of the asphalt surface. Conventional patching would be suggested where infrared cannot be used. This conventional (reconstructive) patching consists of removing failed areas to sub base, compacting the sub base, installing at least four inches of base course and two inches of top course.
Infrared pavement technology is a great way to tackle most pavement maintenance issues permanently and cost effectively. When comparing infrared patching to other methods, it is significantly lower in cost. It saves the cost of a temporary patch because it can be done in any temperature.
Developing a highly interactive Web site, attending trade shows and courting home owner’s associations have resulted in new business for this full-service paving contractor.
The company has served commercial, residential, and municipal customers by repaving condominium parking lots through the Garden State.
Eosso brothers paving can repave condominium parking lot with minimal disruption to homeowners and tenants. The company sends daily notices to inform tenants of its progress and provides them with a password to monitor the paving schedule on the Web site.
On a condominium parking lot project, Society Hill @ Somerset, Eosso Brothers demonstrated how easily it can complete a milling and paving project in only 24 days. On this job the company was able to lay down 3,800 tons of asphalt in six days averaging 650 tons per day.
Eosso Brothers starts every job by developing a pavement management plan and custom mapping system. These are useful tools used daily for tracking cost and production.
Milling was accomplished with Wirtgen 1200 milling machine in the first eight days of the schedule and was set at a 2-inc. cut and a 48-in width. The company’s paving workhorse is a 2006 Ingersoll Rand 3120 paver. It was laying down 650 tons of asphalt per day totaling 3,800 tons of asphalt covering the 320,000-sq-ft. parking lot. Asphalt came 6 mi. away from Trap Rock’s Kingston plant and was carried to the job site using six trucks.
Tom Eosso, vice president and part owner of the company, also believes in relationship building with suppliers.
“We recently purchased our new Ingersoll Rand 3120 paver from Asphalt Care Equipment and Supplies, a company that understands our business,” said Eosso.
“The owner, sales manager, and employees have been in the field on paving projects and understand problems unique to our industry,” said Eosso. “When it comes to equipment purchases, their expertise helps in the decision-making process.”
Eosso ran the project with 16 cross trained employees who can operate equipment or do the line striping using a Graco line striper. When the line stripping is complete and the final cleanup is done, it’s time for a final inspection.
Eosso usually makes the inspection himself after the first rain and outlines areas where he sees puddles. The company then returns with is truck mounted infrared machine to repair troubled areas quickly.
“We like to maintain our new equipment and keep our employees happy,” added Eosso. “Our trucks are equipped with satellite radios and all our employees are given benefits.”
“Because we are a family owned business, we understand the importance of keeping long-term employees,” said Eosso.
To help them achieve this Eosso Brothers employs a full-time office, with two estimators, and three year round crews. They provide them with state-of-the-art technology and equipment ensuring top performance from the time the bid is due until the pavement lines dry. In keeping with the company’s technology growths, they recently upgraded their estimating department with the new Microsoft NET & SQL Server version of BID2WIN.
For the last seven years they have been estimating and bidding with PowerBid, the first estimating program developed by BID2WIN, and it was time they made a change. “PowerBid was not versatile enough to grow with our company,” says Thomas Eosso, vice president/estimator. “I received the BID2WIN demo CD and it looked .
After upgrading to BID2WIN Thomas and Gary Eosso went to BID2WIN’s headquarters in Portsmouth, NH for training. “I met all the guys when we went to BID2WIN’s facility, they’re true professionals,” proclaims Thomas. Once back at their office they started using BID2WIN immediately. “It is much easier bidding a project when you completely understand your true costs,” said Thomas. “For the work we do, BID2WIN automatically does the work for us when you put in proposed item quantities,” explains Thomas.
Thomas frequently bids on similar jobs and uses BID2WIN to save himself time while streamlining their operations. “I can duplicate previous bids, change customer information, put my sizes in, and have a bid in less than 15 minutes. It is actually fun to use the software. I look forward to using the software and if I ever have any questions the technical support line is there for me.”
Eosso Brothers Paving begins its 18th year in business this year, and the three brothers that run the operation have a unique outlook on providing construction work.
“We have built a reputation over the years for our honesty and dedication to the industry and work hard to educate our customers,” says Tom Eosso, vice president. “And we hear all the time from managers about the bad experiences they have had with other paving contractors and how easy it is to deal with Eosso Brothers.
“Our goal is to give our customers a great experience.”
And that “experience” involves more than doing a quality job in a timely manner – especially considering the customer market Eosso Brothers pursues: homeowners associations.
“Working in condo, retirement, and town home communities is difficult,” Tom says. “We are working with a lot of people, there are people watching us through their windows. And it’s an inconvenience to people who have to be out of their court for a 24 hour period.”
But over the years Eosso Brothers Paving has learned how to handle that.
Eosso Brothers Paving has been in business officially since 1992, but it actually started 30 years before that when Anthony Eosso, father of the current three principles in the company, specialized in excavating and preparing communities for a single builder. The three Eosso brothers – Tom, Gary, and Anthony – began working with their dad before they were teenagers, and along the way he taught them the business. By the time they turned 17 they were all, by their own admission, “excellent” operators.
But then came the late 1980s and recession hit.
“He had all his eggs in one basket, working with the same builder,” Tom Eosso says. “Work came to a halt, and his business was devastated. His company went out of business, and Gary and I went to work for other companies.”
But one of the things about families is they often like to spend time together, and by 1992 the three brothers began talking about getting into the paving sealcoating business. “We wanted to work together,” Tom says. “The three of us are a team, and together no one can stop us.”
Then they had to decide what kind of paving and sealcoating business they wanted. “We were so scared to get involved with builders,” Tom says. At the time Tom lived in a condo community, and one day he was talking with the property manager. “I told her we were going into business and asked if she had any upcoming work,” Tom says. “She needed a retaining wall built. The project was $25,000, and it was our first job.”
Other than the retaining wall Eosso Brothers worked 100% in residential driveways that first year. “We started targeting homeowner associations and never looked back,” Tom says.
Today the contractor specializes in paving and pavement maintenance for “communities” throughout New Jersey. Eosso Brothers runs three crews a day, and all crews are cross-trained to be able to handle all phases of pavement work. In addition to paving driveways and parking lots, the contractor owns a Wirtgen 120 milling machine, which it rents out with an operator.
Eosso Brothers also owns two infrared repair machines and was one of the first contractors to introduce the repair method in New Jersey. (Tom Eosso is presenting “Improving Your Infrared Pavement Repair Operation” at National Pavement Expo, Jan. 20-23 in Nashville). “Infrared has helped our company in many ways,” he says. “Infrared is like having an asphalt eraser; if you make a mistake, it can be fixed.” The line striping crew follows up the sealcoating and paving operations, and a drainage crew installs pipe and repairs sinkholes.
Eosso Brothers now has 30 employees, including five office staff, an operators manager to prepare projects, and a full-time mechanic. And much of the staff is family: Kim Mazzoni, their sister, is “the backbone in the office,” setting up all work and handling payables. Linda Eosso, Tom’s wife, handles human resources. Nick Eosso, a cousin who is a marine veteran with two tours of duty in Iraq, is the contractor’s drainage specialist and handles line striping. Rob Tampone, operations manager, is Gary Eosso’s brother-in-law, and Ralph Mazzoni, a nephew, recently started with the company.
Eosso Brothers does everything it can to make the work more palatable to two sets of customers – the people in the community who are most likely to be inconvenienced by the work getting done and the property owners and managers who let the bid.
Tom says communication makes everything easier, so Eosso Brothers does everything it can to make sure residents and the property manager know what’s going to happen.
It starts with Robert Tampone, Eosso Brothers operations manager, who develops a work order for all materials and details on each project. Based on that work order he orders the proper materials for each job. Based on that order and the bid Eosso Brothers creates a payment schedule two weeks prior to the start date. Tampone calls to have utilities marked throughout the jobsite, and one week before the project starts Eosso Brothers holds a preconstruction meeting with the manager and engineer.
“At that time we ask if there are any special needs such as any disabled people, special parking provisions, special time limits, or anything like that,” Tom says. “We also send the property manager a pre-project checklist which asks for all the important phone numbers: the landscape company, the garbage service, the post office, and any other essential places we might need to contact.”
Other information obtained through the pre-project checklist includes scheduling information, such as when the trash is being picked up, and specifics such as how many units there are in community (so Eosso Brothers knows how many notices to print) and the best way to communicate – e-mail, phone or cell phone – with the manager.
Once Eosso Brothers has a handle on what goes on in the community and when it goes on, it’s time to plan the work and let the residents know.
“We feel giving the homeowners proper notice and respect is important, so we start with the work plan. We use Google Earth and Microsoft Bing maps to take an aerial view of the community. We put that into Microsoft Power Point and create a detailed color-coded map with specific instructions.”
The instructions let the residents know what type of work will be happening in which area on each day there is scheduled work. “Three or four days before work starts we hand out our color-coded notice and install our custom-made signs at the entrance to the community saying when paving will start. We also paint the dates of the work on the ground in marking paint.”
And once the project starts, Eosso Brothers and its crew is more than just a paving operation. They start by knocking on doors to remind residents what will be happening that day, then the crew actually helps people move from designated areas.
“That’s where our Eosso Courtesy Cart comes in, and you would be surprised how important something as simple as that can be,” Tom says. “When we get on the jobsite we’re ready to help assist homeowners to their cars and from their parked cars to their home.”
The contractor’s courtesy cart is really a golf cart decked out in Eosso Brothers’ colors and logos. It came about after a little brainstorming at a preconstruction meeting in 2007 for a job in a retirement community.
“We were discussing how we would set up the project, and we realized the people who lived there would have to walk real far due to how long the roads are,” Tom says.
And he came up with the idea to purchase a golf cart to drive residents to and from their homes.
“I told them I would dedicate one person to drive the people back and forth,” Tom says. “I told them I would need to charge a little more for adding another laborer each day, and they said they would pay for the service.”
So Eosso Brothers gave the manager a Nextel, and anytime the job was running and residents needed to get from their house or to their house she called and Eosso brothers would pick them up in the courtesy cart.
“It was a hit,” Tom says.
The cart seats two people, and last year Eosso Brothers added a four-person courtesy cart to its fleet.
“We take great pride in watching the faces when they are riding on the cart. They really enjoy it. Our property managers really love the concept, too. One manager said it takes the edge off the project. It is fun. At the end of all our projects we ask the manager for a testimonial. They all rave about the service and the cart.”
The cart is only part of the service, but Tom Eosso says it’s the service that has made the difference in their success. “Good work is a given. You have to start with a good job,” Tom says. “But the paving industry has a bad reputation because of fly-by-night operators, and I feel what people want is a good experience.
“We are told a lot from managers, ‘We did not choose you because you were the cheapest, we know that you will do a good job and take a lot of pressure off the manager and community,'” Tom says. “With great service and a great experience there is no reason why customers won’t use our company again in the future.”