In Chicago and its suburbs, weather can drastically shorten the life of parking lots and sidewalks if they don’t get proper maintenance. Plus, potholes and other uneven areas can be a safety concern. We interviewed Todd Eichholz, CEO of A&A Paving in Roselle, IL, for a survival guide, as his team has extensive experience with Chicagoland community association lots and sidewalks.

Planning for major paving projects

There are a few key things to address when considering a paving project. For example, did you know that you can have custom stencils created for your parking lot? The sky is the limit when it comes to striping. You can stripe in a logo or other custom message. Here are two other very important considerations when planning for paving in a community association.Paving Industry's dirty little secret

“Dirty little secret” about asphalt parking lot cost

There’s a dirty little secret in the paving industry that nabs the paving-uneducated. The secret is around the word “compact”. Let’s compare language from two proposals:

  1. “Install 4 inches of asphalt and then compact”
  2. “4 inches of compacted asphalt”

These two statements are not an apples to apples comparison. What matters is final compacted thickness. A parking lot should be at least 4″ of compacted asphalt (driveways should be 3-4″). The first proposal will have at least 25% less asphalt installed, and the price will be 15-18% cheaper (it is a tactic to win bids). Always ask how thick the pavement will be after it is compacted.

3 ways to minimize community disruption

Here are planning steps to minimize community disruption.

  1. Communicate well in advance of the paving project exactly what will happen and when. Include detailed phasing maps from your vendor.
  2. If residents will be displaced during the project, consider a vendor with a golf cart shuttle service to drop people at their cars so they avoid long walks.
  3. Consider any residents with disabilities. Some vendors provide extra assistance for them during the paving project.


Parking lots

With proper maintenance, a brand new parking lot should last 25 years before it needs to be completely torn up and re-paved. An asphalt parking lot maintenance plan to achieve this is as follows:

  • Annually, fill cracks.
  • Every 2 years, assess if you need to sealcoat now, or if you can wait one more year. Whether you sealcoat every two or three years depends on the amount of traffic on the pavement. Do not wait longer than three years. This is the time to patch any small issues that can be repaired now to avoid a larger, more expensive issue.
  • At the 6-8 year mark, you may need to do some patching around the sewer inlets (catch basins) and near dumpster corrals.
  • At 12-15 years, you’ll need either large scale patching, or milling off of the top 1.5-2″ of asphalt and replacing this surface layer.

Water is the biggest factor when it comes to sidewalk health, particularly standing water. Ensure that water can flow off the sidewalks rather than be blocked by overgrown turf. The other issue common with sidewalks is settling. Mudjacking is a method to raise concrete to address this issue. Another best practice for preserving sidewalks through tough winters is to use calcium chloride deicers on all concrete surfaces, instead of standard rock salt. This will prevent against pitting in the sidewalks, and significantly extend their life.

Avoiding Chicagoland lawsuits

Cracks in asphalt and concrete are especially an issue in winters like those in Chicago and its suburbs. When water continually freezes and thaws in cracks, issues like potholes and sudden uneven spots in sidewalks occur. The average settlement for a “trip and fall” incident in a parking lot is around $40,000. With the above maintenance plans, including annual crack sealing, you can avoid lawsuits and expensive asphalt or concrete replacement years earlier than otherwise.

How to choose a paving contractor

Good contractors do not try and trick you with the afore mentioned “dirty little secret”. Great contractors also include in their proposal how many tons of asphalt they’ve calculated in the quote. If you don’t see this, be sure to ask.

Additionally, when choosing a contractor, read reviews. It may seem obvious, but don’t skip the step to find out a vendor’s star ratings and read why people rated them that way.

Finally, evaluate the ways in which the vendor offers to help you have a successful project. Community projects require the most care and planning of all paving projects, since it involves the homes of many people. If your vendor has a passion for the people of the business, it will be evident in the ways in which they help. For example, see above “Planning for major paving projects”.