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Open Cell Driveway Grids


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By Pat in Arnold, CA on 7/14/2008


Has anyone used the permeable driveway systems?  They are "green" and keep your water run off go back in to the soil.  We are looking at the Netpave 50 by Netlon gridtech.com and the stabiligrid.com filled with gravel instead of grass.  They just lay down and inter-lock and handle up to 35 tons per sf.  My first quote received was cheaper than an asphalt driveway.

Pat


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By Grant in Blacksburg, VA on 8/1/2008


I'm looking at using permeable concrete for my primary driveway, and possibly a grid system for the driveway down to my walkout basement garage door.  I'd be interested in hearing other people's experiences as well.  My understanding is that a grass/grid system costs about the same as a standard driveway at complete installation cost, but I'm too early to have sought out quotes yet...
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By Charles in Baker, WA on 5/17/2009


I was interested to see what you finally did to your driveway.

Stabiligrid or Netpave?


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By Mary in PA on 5/19/2009


If you’re interested in learning more about the porous-pavement concept, I would recommend this text. It’s a good more detailed than an O-B would really need to know – but I like learning about this stuff. And I feel it will really help me cut through the hype of advertising associated with products in order to make the best decision possible for our particular site (soil type, expected traffic load, cold weather tolerance) and to help with our eventual discussions with the zoning board. I got it on Amazon.

 

Porous Pavements by Bruce K. Ferguson (2005)

 

Like the others above, I’m considering the porous pavement concept. Our desired location for the house will require a long driveway... about 1,000 linear feet. 1,000 x 10 feet wide – that’s a lot of driveway. We are fine with a simple gravel drive, but have run into a potential snag on a zoning issue. Our property, due to a thing in the original subdivision has a limit of 10,000 sq ft of impervious. I was aware of this when I bought the land, and thought it would be fine as I would never get to that in “roofs” for the buildings and I knew we would do a gravel drive. What I didn’t realize at the time was that a gravel drive is considered impervious. Oops.

 

OK – so we’re going to need to go for a variance, I think, to get the driveway and house locations we want. Bummer. We’re hoping that we can offer a justification for the variance by attending to stormwater management. That could include previous pavement, an on-site rain garden, and rainwater harvesting (for livestock and irrigation). Of course, all of these are just good ideas on their own and we want to do them... I just didn't know the zoning board would be commenting on our plans too. So we’re weighing our options, investigating and trying to formulate an effective and workable (budget-wise) plan.

 

If anyone can offer personal experience with these types of products, I’m all ears.

 

Regards,


Mary


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By Pat in Arnold, CA on 5/19/2009


We have decided to use polypavement.com.  It is much harder than asphalt, permeable, and inexpensive.  It's about $1/sq ft installed.  Since we have about 15,000 sq ft of driveway... that's a deal!  It also meets the county codes, which require that all driveways have a hard surface and must accept  the weight of the largest fire truck.  We won't be installing the driveway until Spring, 2010.

Pat


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By Mary in PA on 5/21/2009


I agree that PolyPavement is certainly cost effective and I liked that they listed a lot of useful info on their site -- especially with respect to where and how to install this product. For others who may be working through this issue, I noted the following info.

From their site, my initial impression is that this product could have failure issues due to the risk of moisture infiltration (rain/snow) simultaneously with freeze/thaw cycles (warm days/cold nights). This could be a problem at our building site in South-Central PA.

Also, I'm not sure if the surface is considered permeable. I could be wrong on this, but it appears to me that this product sheets water off the road surface, adding to the stormwater. At my building site, the township is restricting our non-porous surface to limit stormwater runoff issues. If PolyPavement is non-permeable, it will be a tough sell to the zoning guys.

In CA or other warm areas of the US, I could see this product being a great thing.

Mary


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By Pat in Arnold, CA on 5/21/2009


PolyPavement is a permeable product and that's one of the reasons we are using it.  We don't want all the storm drain runoff.  It isn't affected by freezing.  We are building up in the High Sierras where we get lots of snow and freezing and the specs on the product state that it's been tested up in Minnesota with no problems.  You might want to look at all the test data and warranties on their site.

Pat


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By Charles in Baker, WA on 5/21/2009


Pat,

You may want to dig in a bit deeper. I could not find anywhere on their site giving infiltration or porosity rates.

According to PolyPavement website:

polypavement.com

"PolyPavement has high resistance to surface water penetration but it is not resistant to water invasion from a lateral direction or from beneath."

"Properly installed PolyPavement resists water invasion in a manner that is more like asphalt than concrete. Concrete has water-resisting characteristics that allow it to be used to channel flowing water continuously with little or no damage. However asphalt cannot be used to channel flowing water without eroding. But asphalt has high resistance to sheet-flowing water."

"Since PolyPavement's water-resistance characteristics are like asphalt and does not do well with channel flowing water, there is a need for good drainage design and water management. A PolyPavement surface should be contoured and sloped to drain in a manner that allows every drop of water that hits it to sheet-flow off the surface using the shortest route possible. The PolyPavement surface should not be sloped to drain using the pavement surface to carry the water a long distance before it finds its way off of the surface. At locations where a naturally flowing rainwater run-off channel has to cross the PolyPavement, there could be a need to install a sub-surface drain to prevent the rainwater run-off from damaging the PolyPavement surface."

It would suck to not get what you are looking for...

Chuck


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By Mary in PA on 6/18/2009


(Porous) Open-Graded Aggregate Driveway

After some further investigation we’ve found an alternative to an open-cell driveway. I like the concept of an open-cell driveway, but the cost is too high for us. The alternative is a simple open-grade aggregate driveway. This option is a close cousin to the standard gravel driveway that we are all familiar with which is apparently known as a dense-graded aggregate driveway. The standard gravel driveway is made up of both larger and smaller sized aggregate that packs tightly to form a dense, impervious surface. In contrast, an open-graded aggregate driveway is made up of a single size of angular aggregate. It packs together due to the angular shape but still leaves voids in the gravel bed, maintaining a porous surface. A typical installation would include scraping the topsoil, laying down a geotextile fabric and then several inches of an appropriately large (#57) single-size aggregate. It might be lightly compacted if laid down in more than one layer.

 

The pros for this option are its low cost and easy construction. The cons are that it will not work well for high traffic or high speed (but OK for most driveways). It may be more difficult to walk on than a dense-graded aggregate, especially in nice shoes. Also, there may be weed encroachment into the aggregate. [And it won't work well on slopes, but we don't have that issue.]

 

We plan to use open-graded aggregate for the length of the driveway (~950 ft) and then a more foot-friendly option for around the garage and outbuildings. This will get us under, well under, the 10,000 sq ft impervious requirement without having to attempt any special waivers with the county subdivision planning people. I’m sure they’re nice folks and all, but why bother them if we don’t have to. ;-) 

 

I found out about this option (since I’m no driveway expert, I can assure you!) from the text mentioned earlier in this thread. It provided excellent descriptions that I’ll use to create my specs for the excavator. It also has some examples and photos of this option in use in case I need that as backup with the township.


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By Charles in Baker, WA on 6/19/2009


Be sure and check with your building and planning authority.

In most areas of the country, "gravel" is not considered pervious, no matter what the product or concept.

The reason:

Even with your proposed clean-angular gravel application, vehicular traffic causes the gravel to shift and move, breaking it down over time. The "fines & dust" created by this friction, along with the compaction from the wheels/tires, and possible natural organic infiltration from falling leaves or sedimentation from run-on, eventually creates an impervious surface.

Practically speaking, the gravel will move (even angular stone) when rolled over by tires. just get some and try it. To slow this process down, you could look at using a spray binder over the gravel (acrylic ones are supposed to be enviro-friendly). This will help for a while, but you will probably need to do it every other year. We use this approach at our long cabin driveway, but it is $2,500 every time we have to do it!

Long term, you will end up spending more money and time on the least expensive alternatives. If you have long-term plans, and don't want the grief of messing with your road every couple of years (at best), do your best to incorporate a quality open-cell reinforcing grid layer.

This all could be moot if your building authority does not accept gravel as pervious pavement... please let us all know what you find out...


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By Mary in PA on 6/19/2009


Charles, thanks for your comments and input.

 

Is it (porous open-graded aggregate) allowed?
When I read about the idea and thought it might be a good solution to our problem, I had the same thought as you regarding whether or not the township would accept it as pervious. I called the zoning officer who I’ve talked with a few times on other issues. He is familiar with our site & the 10,000 sq ft impervious limitation and he is a civil engineer. Granted, it was a pretty short conversation. But he indicated that an “open graded aggregate over geotextile” [that was my phrasing, not his] would be accepted as porous. I even asked if I needed to take this to the county level subdivision planning folks, or if I could just work with him through the normal building permit process (township level) … and he said to just work with him on it. Perhaps this is not a strict code issue and he has some room to interpret (?). Or maybe we misunderstood each other. So just to be sure, I was thinking of asking him again, in person, with a ‘spec’ I write up of the driveway... so that there would be less chance of misunderstandings. I won’t do this for several weeks yet, as I would like to collect more info on our building project and take in most of my questions at one time.

 

Is it permeable long term?

I have no firsthand experience on driveways and permeability (or building houses for that matter!) – all new stuff to me. To date I’m relying heavily on a single source on the driveway issue (Porous Pavement by Ferguson). In the book’s section on choosing the appropriate type of stone for a porous open-graded aggregate, he specifically cautions against soft varieties of limestone – due to the issues you mention above. He simultaneously states that limestone and dolomite represent 71% of the stone produced in the US. So correct choice of type and size of stone appears to be a big issue – and I’ll need to investigate whether or not I can get a hard limestone or other suitable option for a reasonable cost in our area.

 

Also in the book, under the section on maintenance of (open-graded) aggregate surfaces [pg 219], Ferguson notes the following that I thought you might find interesting:

 

“Over time, slow-moving traffic can realign surface particles… into visibly flattened and compacted tracks. Compacted tracks are more stable but less permeable than adjacent uncompacted areas. As long as the compacted areas are limited to narrow tracks they do not detract from a surface’s overall hydrology, because any runoff migrates quickly to adjacent uncompacted areas and infiltrates in open voids, whence it spreads throughout the aggregate mass.”

 

And also:

“Where traffic has produced fine particles by grinding aggregate, surface runoff can wash the fine particles into polished-looking, slowly permeable crusts in low spots. The crusting is typically within the top inch of material. Appearance and permeability can be restored by excavating the surface layer of material and replacing it with fresh open-graded material. Where this kind of maintenance is required, it may be a sign that the original aggregate material was too dense-graded or not durable enough to withstand the traffic, and stronger or more decisively open-graded material should be considered for replacement.”

 

So, from the author’s POV, it is doable. But it would seem correct specs up front are needed to avoid some maintenance headaches. Is it doable for our application, in our township, with our locally available stone… Not sure yet.

 

Is it (open-graded aggregate) a good idea (i.e. vs open cell grid or other porous paving)?

As I said above, more investigation needed, both on the technical issues and on cost comparisons to open cell (although initially it seems to be much more $). However, I would have to respectfully disagree on your comment that the least expensive option always winds up costing you more in the long run. I can see what you’re saying in principal – don’t cheap out and select an inappropriate solution. Agreed. But an appropriate solution might not be expensive, and low-cost alone doesn’t make it one or the other.

 

 

I will report back when I know more and I welcome any further thoughts/comments you may have.

 

Thanks,

Mary


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By Mary in PA on 7/16/2009


OK - so after the research and thinking and concern over how to handle the impervious situation for our property, I found out yesterday that we have no situation. After a meeting with the township zoning guy I found out (for reasons too detailed for this thread) that we will be OK with a standard gravel driveway of any length we want... and it will not count toward our 10,000 sq ft limitation. Only the house and garage will count. That's great news - saves a chunk of the budget and makes planning that much easier. I'm still glad I learned about the pervious paving, as I may still consider it as an option for some parts of the property (like seldom-used parking areas).

If you're interested in the gory details of how this came to be, I put them in my construction journal (OurFarmstead, dated 7/16).


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By Charles in Baker, WA on 8/1/2009


That's great news on your behalf.

Now that it is an "option' and not required, you can consider what you may need to do for your own benefit.

Overflow parking is a great way to take part in environmental awareness, and when done using the right method, can be aesthetically pleasing too!

Your situation is a good example for others about checking with your planning/zoning authority to verify the requirements before committing to a given project.

Best wishes to all...

chuck


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