If you have ever been to an outdoor festival, sporting event or concert venue, or even the recent light festival at One Loudoun you know what a muddy mess can be created by the combination of heavy foot or vehicle traffic and even a little rain.
Putting down gravel won’t eliminate problems with ruts and erosion, and it will add the problem of dust when conditions are dry and windy. Paving the high-traffic areas with concrete or asphalt is expensive, unnatural aesthetically, creates run-off problems that still require maintenance and, eventually, replacement.
Enter Mid-Atlantic Grid & Paving Systems, a company recently founded by Loudoun County businessmen Corey Lockhart and Ken Fraine. In less than a year, their company has become the second largest certified distributor in the United States of Ecoraster – a cutting-edge ground-stabilizing system manufactured in Canada.
“This solves the centuries-old problem of soil stabilization in areas of heavy traffic – foot and vehicle – for roads, public venues and outdoor events,” Lockhart said. “It is a green product because it is made entirely from recycled materials and is recyclable itself.”
Ecoraster is a lightweight and extremely durable interlocking grid system produced by Purus North America, a company headquartered in Listowel, Ontario. According to Lockhart and Fraine, it is already widely used in Europe, and has already shown its usefulness and durability in Loudoun County.
“There has been about 180 million square feet of it installed world-wide,” Lockhart said. “It comes with a 20-year warranty, but really this stuff will virtually last forever because it is strong enough to drive a snow plow over and it doesn’t become brittle in the cold or start to break down in changing weather or UV light.”
Except for college and active duty service, Lockhart has spent his entire life in Loudoun County and he’s a Broad Run High School graduate who owns a demolition and site work company. Fraine has degrees from Virginia Tech in civil engineering and geotechnical engineering, and also is involved in landscape architecture, drainage solutions and specializes in soil stabilization.
“I do ground stabilization and foundation remediation,” Fraine said. “Basically, it’s called soil engineering.” He said he first heard about Ecoraster when he was contacted about a project being planned at the Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center. “I was contacted in January of 2017 by a distributor out of Richmond who asked if I would be willing to be a geotech engineer of record on the design and install of this project at Wolf Trap,” Fraine said. “It was about 70,000 square feet, and they wanted to have a permanent ground stabilization system that, even if it rains, you can drive on it. It needed to be done by the week before Memorial Day.”
Even though he had never worked with the product before, Fraine and his crew were able to meet their deadline on the project, which at the time was the largest installation of Ecoraster in Northern America. “It was kind of a steep learning curve but what wasn’t a steep learning curve was the product itself,” Fraine said. “The product installation is really easy. We got everything designed and installed about 10 days before Memorial Day.”
Fraine and Lockhart already knew each other through professional and personal circles, and a touch of irony led to them becoming business partners with Ecoraster.
“I had just been to a concert at Wolf Trap and I noticed the installed product and wondered who does this and who makes it,” Lockhart said. “Ken and I were at a happy hour and started talking about it, and it turns out he had done that project. I did a little more research on the product and I asked Ken if he would bring me in as a partner.”
The partners said applications for Ecoraster are numerous in Loudoun County, from public festival venues to animal and livestock operations to breweries and wineries – all of which have problems with erosion in heavy traffic areas.
“We really want to focus on saving our historic gravel roads,” Lockhart said. “We are also trying to educate our very highly knowledgeable horse enthusiasts in this area. This is great to use with horses and other livestock, because it keeps the animals up out of the muck and the mud but it is permeable, so you don’t have the problems with runoff. It keeps the animals happier and healthier, it keeps their living areas dryer, and it makes cleanup a breeze.”
They also see Ecoraster being helpful for Loudoun’s booming agri-business destinations. “We like to go to wineries and breweries,” Fraine said. “I’ve noticed they all have problems with soil stabilization in their high-traffic areas like driveways or parking lots. Instead of replacing or maintaining them every year, we could install this product one time and they will never have to worry about maintaining their roads and parking lots. And it costs about half as much as asphalt.”
With spring coming, Lockhart and Fraine are gearing up for their first big season with Mid-Atlantic Grid and Paving Systems. “We have our first big shipment coming in, and our website has been live for about two weeks now,” Fraine said. “We’re ready to begin our marketing campaign and get our name out there.”
For more information about Ecoraster stabilization systems, visit MidatlanticGridSystems.com.