I need a smoother commute to the mailbox!
March 5, 2011 7:00 AM   Subscribe

My Driveway is long.... Very long around 8/10 of a mile. I want to concrete the whole thing but it's too cost prohibitive. As an alternative I'm thinking about pouring it as two parallel tire track widths. I'd like to research this but am having trouble finding the right search terms. Is there an industry term for this type of driveway? Has any one here done this what are the pros and cons?

Here is an image of what I'd like to do except with concrete.
There are a few ~60' sections of the driveway that are concrete around grated drains across the road where we have had some water problems. Those sections are like little little slices of heaven to drive on. Its about $140.00 a yard to get the concrete pored if I form it. Judging by the tire tracks two 2' sections would be a pretty good fit and would be significantly less concrete to pour than pouring the whole thing 14' wide.
posted by jmsta to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've always seen it referred to as a double track driveway in real estate descriptions. A 'two track driveway' too.
posted by iconomy at 7:12 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know nothing about concrete or the reasons why, but I can tell you that I have seen what you want to do on a driveway much much shorter than yours and it appeared as if the weight of the cars driving on it and parking on it had put significant cracks in it. It was about 3 years old. It was n the northeast where there is a significant amount of freeze and thaw as well as a big rainy period too. (Not unlike WV?). His was called a two track drive.

I would consider the depth of the pour, the timing of the pour and whatever local WV ordnances may come into play. The local building inspector might have good advice.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:16 AM on March 5, 2011

Also, setting up forms for two tracks 3/4 of a mile long will take a while. I assume you would do it in sections, but if this is not your full time gig working on this, this could get very difficult.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:19 AM on March 5, 2011

Remember that you need to design it for the heaviest loads it will carry. So think about what happens when a septic pump truck or a builder's dumptruck come down the driveway? Not only are those heavier than your car, they are wider, putting stress on the outside edge of your concrete strips.

It would almost certainly be cheaper to asphalt the driveway rather than concrete it. But don't forget about runoff and drainage issues -- it is easy to solve one problem and in the process cause several others.
posted by Forktine at 7:23 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

You could look into having a couple inches of rock laid down, and then compacted; perhaps a second compacting six months down the road would help.

Even two 2' tracks would be hella expensive. 8/10 of a mile, times four feet, times 1/3 foot (four inches thick slabs) is...a little over 200 yards.
posted by notsnot at 7:26 AM on March 5, 2011

For what it's worth, your image isn't of a double track driveway, it's a driveway fully paved with paving stones, but with gaps in between the stones in the middle to let grass grow through.

From shorter ones I've seen in urban areas, it's really hard to get grass to grow nicely in the middle of a double-track driveway, and you end up with a muddy or dusty strip down the middle instead of two concrete lines through the lawn.

I'm not sure where you're located, but if you're somewhere that gets snow, double track is pretty much unplowable too.
posted by mendel at 8:41 AM on March 5, 2011

have you considered laying down crushed recycled aggregate? lots of paving companies have enormous piles of crushed cement and/or asphalt in chunks from fist-size to grape-size. It's relatively cheap to lay this down and set it with a drum roller. My neighbors had it done about 2-3 years ago and it's still like new. but then, we're in the south, so the worst they have to deal with is the septic guy and the propane guy. no snow.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:48 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

A more accurate term is ribbon driveway.

The image you link shows regular pavers with grass pavers between. Grass pavers (grasscrete is a brand name) come in different ratings (for different weights of vehicles); they're permeable and grass grows in them.

I would look into decomposed granite. It's permeable and reasonably priced. (way better than asphalt or concrete). If you're doing this yourself, concrete pavers would also be worthy of investigation. (We use a lot of Belgard & Cemex pavers.). But they may be pricier than concrete.

All of these methods require some major labor to prepare the ground before laying your surface.
posted by Kronur at 9:38 AM on March 5, 2011

The ones I've experienced have had pit run gravel laid between and on each side and to a level just below of the two strips. With the gravel if one drops a wheel off a strip when the ground is soft you don't get stuck. Pit run is cheap and it'll pack but one can use fancy rock too it'll just reduce your cost savings over concrete. Plowing isn't much harder if you have a blade that'll span the width though it will sometimes push the gravel around so a bit of maintenance in the spring filling in the low spots is required. Much less than the maintenance that asphalt requires though.

The big advantage of this is the greatly reduced cost plus less run off. Also if you do end up with a significant crack or lift/drop repairs are cheaper and easier than on a full slab. Disadvantage is driving on a two track can freak some people out and for some people the aesthetics (though I'd much prefer it over asphalt which always looks cheap in a vinyl siding sort of way).

Going forward one can always fill in the gap with concrete or paving stones if desired and finances allow.

Be aware that normally one should excavate down to twice the depth of the concrete and then place and compact gravel to the thickness of the slab to help spread the weight and allow for drainage. This has to be done before the forms are placed. If you currently have a gravel driveway this might not be necessary.
posted by Mitheral at 10:02 AM on March 5, 2011

There aren't any real good cheap options here. The most for your money is to build a good roadbed with proper drainage (the drainage is the key thing) than top it with crushed rock of some kind (crushed brick/pavement/concrete would be a great material), than if your budget allows get that topped either by chip sealing or oil sealing. Chip sealing is probably the better option. If you get the drainage right you will only need to replace the chip seal about every 10-15 years assuming no heavy vehicle crushes it. What destroys roads is inadequate drainage. Water gets in and either freezes and heaves or makes the sub-grade soft and the soil isn't strong enough for the load. The reason the Romans built roads that have lasted 2000 years of constant use is they got the drainage right. Actually check out this link for roman roads and you will now all you need to build a decent driveway

A better driveway roman style
posted by bartonlong at 10:09 AM on March 5, 2011

Uggghhh. I have a driveway like this and I curse the cheapskate who installed it every time I'm out there clearing snow. You'll have twice the borders to avoid and if you try to grow grass between the tracks you'll be waiting until mid-summer for it not to look like a muddy mess.
posted by PSB at 10:09 AM on March 5, 2011

I know it as a "Hollywood driveway", but I don't believe it would be any cheaper, at least not in any significant way. Roadbed preparation would be exactly the same; labor to build concrete forms would be the same, or more. You might think the concrete would be cheaper, but usually that's more a function of the size of the concrete truck. The two tracks both need to be graded for runoff, surfaced and scored- an easier job with one big driveway.

I think Hollywood driveways are awesome, and generally better for the environment (promoting more groundwater infiltration and less runoff). My dream is to have one if I ever own a home. But they are not a good cost-cutting measure, and I think very hard to engineer properly over such a long distance. Better to have a good, all weather road made from quarry fines if you want to save on costs.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:24 AM on March 5, 2011

Have you considered Bituminous Surface Treatment? It's used a lot on country roads here in Oregon because it's cheap. It's essentially aggregate coated with tar and rolled flat. It's durable for weather and designed for low traffic areas.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:49 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the info everyone. The show stopper here is the plowing. I hadn't thought that part through. Most of the road drains pretty well but the top part of the road needs some drainage work.
posted by jmsta at 11:38 AM on March 5, 2011

Given your dimensions, concrete would cost over $30,000, not counting the thousands in excavation and preparation.

Solid asphalt paving would probably run about $60,000.

It seems that your only reasonable solution is regrading and applying gravel.
posted by JackFlash at 3:21 PM on March 5, 2011

I wanted to chime in about snow removal...you can simply plow concrete, whereas with that central strip of grass, you'll probably want to take some care.
posted by nevercalm at 11:55 AM on March 6, 2011

Best answer: We call it a Pasadena or Hollywood driveway in Southern California, but it's all good.

I am a landscape architect. I have designed these for people, at the behest of others. The owners almost always wind up paving the center strip.

They aren't cheaper than full width concrete, either. You have to form the insides of the tracks - it's twice as much labor than a normal one-width driveway. A good rule of thumb in the U.S. is that labor is 2/3 the cost of any construction. So, you'd be doubling the majority of the cost. Of course if you do it yourself, that's a labor savings - but something to remember is that contractors often get significant discounts from materials suppliers - typically 25% to 50% off retail. Break out the pencil.

Back to people filling them in - they do that because they hate them. They hate trying to drive on them without dropping a tire into the middle. They hate having patches where nothing grows, because that's where they drop a tire off every time they drive, and the soil is compacted like concrete. Irrigation can be problematic as well.

As someone else pointed out, those are pavers in the image you refer to, and the center is filled in with either precast concrete turf pavers or hand laid concrete pavers. That's an expensive driveway - $15 a square foot. Emulating that look in concrete, without the center pavement, would be double the cost of plain natural concrete. You could color the concrete with an admixture, or acid stain, but it won't look like pavers.

The single cheapest pavement solution is asphalt. That's why it's used everywhere. You'd go 1.5"- 2" asphalt thickness on a 3"- 4" base material. Still pricey, given the length of your driveway.

One good solution is to use 3/4" crushed rock. Just dump it on, spread it out and drive on it. You'd want a 2" average thickness, though of course it will go where it wants to.

0.8 mile = 4,224 feet. Driveway can be 12 feet wide instead of 14. That's 50,688 square feet, over an acre. Wow. That would be 313 cubic yards of material at 2" thick. Retail cost is $30/CY...so that's $9,390 bucks, not bad at all for a drive of that length. Labor not included, but at $30 a yard, the supplier should deliver and dump it right where you want it.

$2.50/SF is a low cost for installed concrete, though you might be able to get it cheaper (that includes labor, installation, excavation, finishing - the whole thing). That would be $126,720. So, yeah, go with 3/4" crushed rock.
posted by Xoebe at 10:52 AM on March 7, 2011

Response by poster: Xoebe thanks for the detailed info with numbers. 3/4" crusher run is whats on it now but it looks like I'll be putting more of that on there. I kinda figured the "Hollywood Driveway" was worthless in my situation. Maybe I'll win the lottery but until then rocky road it is.
posted by jmsta at 5:13 PM on March 8, 2011

« Older What to do with six hours in Amsterdam airport?   |   remap iOS Arabic keyboard Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.