Staying Power of Pavers
Home to 70+ businesses, Williamsburg Village is the only business park located in suburban Chicago’s Inverness. The 10-acre park primarily consists of professional services such as architecture firms, dental offices, medical facilities and offices for financial services.
With colonial style buildings reminiscent of historical Williamsburg, VA, the scenic landscape also includes ponds and bridges that create an impression more akin to a residential townhouse community than a business park.
In planning Williamsburg Village, the Inverness-based developer New London Construction Co., who still manages the development today, wanted to recreate some of the charm found throughout Germany. They knew concrete pavers would provide elegance and historic character to the village. After visiting a few U.S.-based paver installations and receiving a five-year guarantee on the work from the contractor, they were sold.
“This is a pretty upscale development with a very themed concept,” says New London President Jack Monco. “We have architectural styles to match old Williamsburg. The pavers were a way for us to truly differentiate the project from everything else. It just would not have been possible with concrete or asphalt.”
Williamsburg Village includes approximately 130,000 sf (12,000 m2) of interlocking concrete road pavement. Installed in 1979, the paver portion cost $3.50 per square foot, including the sand bedding, pavers and labor.
“Even though this has always remained a private road, we had to build it to village specifications in case it ever went public or the village was ever asked to assume maintenance responsibilities,” says Monco. “Specifically, this meant the base prep had to be exactly the same whether using asphalt or pavers. The village was a little concerned at the time about the use of concrete pavers. Their concern was understandable since there had not been much use of pavers locally, but we used the fact that European roads have used pavers for decades without problems as persuasion.”
His example proved true. Over the 33-year life of the roadway, he has not had to perform any major maintenance, which is impressive considering the consistent delivery-vehicle traffic, the harsh Chicago weather and regular use of deicing materials in the winter. According to weather records, the Inverness community annually averages just over 100 days of precipitation, including 35 in. (87.5 cm) of snow.
“Obviously we have snow every year so we contract companies to handle the plowing. We also apply substantial amounts of salt each winter because we get a lot of freezing rain,” Monco says. “Occasionally, we have seen individual pavers pop up that we have had to replace.”
“Some of the pavers did sink down near the sewer entrances, but this would have happened regardless of the material used. Still, these were only individual pavers or small sections at the most,” he says. “I am confident that if we did not salt the streets, there would be significantly more life in the paver road. To date, Monco estimates his maintenance team has replaced a maximum of 500 pavers.
Built to Last
ICPI member Bill Schneider, founder of LPS Pavement, the company that installed the pavers, says the secret to the project’s longevity came from focusing on designing and building a pavement system rather than just emphasizing the paving product.
The longevity of the Williamsburg job alone demonstrates greater value to cities and taxpayers than today’s popular residential landscaping use, explains Schneider.
“If you think about how long this job has been in place, it shows the potential for other streets,” he says. “Some cities shy away from pavers because they do not think they work. This [installation] is still performing beautifully because it is a superior pavement system.”
Schneider points out that there has been some wear on the Williamsburg installation. “While the pictures do not show it, there are a few cracked pavers, which could be expected after 30 years,” he says. “However, the pavers have performed far beyond the guaranteed five years, as well as beyond the estimated 20 years quoted.”
LPS Pavement subcontracted the dense-graded base installation. Prior to placing it, the soil was compacted and then the 12 in. (30 cm) thick base was installed in 6 in. (15 cm) lifts. A ½ in. (3.8 cm) layer of coarse sand was screeded over the compacted base. After placing the pavers on the bedding sand, the contractor compacted them into it, filled the paver joints with sand and compacted them again.
Pavers kick asphalt
Monco has his share of experience with asphalt across all of his company’s Chicagoland developments. And, specifically within the Williamsburg Village complex, Monco has roughly a 50/50 mix of asphalt and pavers, with extensions from the main road asphalt.
“If we would have decided to go with asphalt instead for the primary road, we would have had to repave at least twice, and it still would not have looked as nice as the pavers.”
In addition, Monco only built structures as his team sold them—meaning all of construction took place with the pavers installed. “With asphalt we would have ended up waiting on the topcoat until everything was in place,” he says. “Fortunately, we did not end up with any ruts or other problems common when heavy equipment has to travel over a roadway. If the project allows for the extra expense upfront, the quality, durability and look [of pavers] are unbeatable.”