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Area Paver Finds A Path To Success
Torti offers stone driveways in 14 colors

by Angela Lemire
The Woonsocket Call
April 24, 1998
Section B, p. 1

Few people can say they "reinvented the wheel."

Figuratively speaking, Glocester resident Larry Torti, 58, can.

He reincarnated the "macadam" driveway, a roadway introduced in the 19th Century by Scotsman named John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836).

Since 1987, Torti has been putting a modern spin on his predecessor's basic formula of laying tiny stones atop a bed of fine sand and cinders.

Torti substitutes the sand with recycled asphalt, spreads an overlay of liquid asphalt and then adds the top layer of stones - which come in 14 decorative colors such as mauve, blue, red and tan.

And to demonstrate his specialty, Torti has appeared on WGBH's This Old House twice before and has more shows coming up.

Three weeks ago, he laid a tan-colored driveway at a home in Milton, Mass., for the show, which is hosted by Steve Thomas.

His debut on This Old House was in 1993 at a Belmont, Mass. house. He's been told by the producers he'll be asked to return for future shows, said Torti.

Since the last viewing, he's received "more than 100 calls" from people who saw the show, he said, including one from Max Weinberg, former drummer for Bruce Springsteen and now the band leader on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

Torti's catapult to sudden fame isn't that surprising, given the odd turns and detours his life has already taken.

Born and raised in the Silver Lake and Federal Hill areas of Providence, Torti graduated from college in 1971 and spent $110 on a pickup truck to start his own paving business.

In the next decade, he continued paving but also operated his own collection and car repossession agency, as well as a night club in Providence.

While in Colorado on a collections job, Torti survived a plane crash with a broken leg.

"The plane did a belly-flop on the run way," said Torti. It was during his stay there when he saw pavers using a macadam-style stone top for a new hotel parking lot, he recalled.

"I was still paving with black top and remember thinking at the time, 'There's got to be something better than this,'" said Torti.

Upon returning to Rhode Island, he found there were no other companies paving macadam roads. With further research, he learned he could use recycled asphalt chunks, discarded from resurfaced roads, as the four-inched based beneath the stone surface.

"It's a recyclable product today," said Torti. "There are mountains and mountains of this stuff. I'm glad I could find a use for it."

The recycled macadam base has been Torti's claim to fame.

Since 1987, he's been paving only macadam-style roadways, using his own recipe.

"Aesthetically, it's perfect. It can fit in with the character of any house," said Torti recently, as he supervised the installation of a slate-colored macadam in the driveway of Louie Roy's Putnam Pike home.

Torti likens the macadam's appeal to the casual scallop-shelled driveways of Nantucket, compared to the typical black-topped look of highways.

At Roy's home, the workers replaced the 200-foot cratered, dirt drive for $3,500 - about one-third the cost of traditional blacktop, said Torti.

Macadam roadways also require less labor to install and are immediately ready for use.

Workers began laying the driveway around 9:30 a.m. and were wrapping up within two hours, leaving a surface behind which was solid enough that Torti's trucks left no impressions. 

It will take about a year for any loose surface stones to set into the bed, explained Torti.

The surface is durable enough so it can be plowed, and provides more traction in icy conditions, said Torti.

Owners of horse farms have also found his type of macadam road to be a practical alternative to dirt roads and black tops, said Torti, because there's no dust, the surface is softer for a horse's hooves and the surface doesn't get as hot as blacktop.

In addition to using recycled materials, Torti noted other environmental benefits.

He said the surface is porous enough to drastically reduce the amount of runoff typically caused by blacktops.

And when the time come for resurfacing, only one layer of stone may be replaced, giving homeowners the option to change the color of their driveway and give their overall property a new look.

 



Contact Us: Larry Torti Paving 88 Tourtellot Hill Road Chepachet, RI 02814
Call 401-568-1500

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