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Curbside Construction looks back on slipforming thousands of kilometres of curb and gutter and sidewalks

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At 70 years of age and a lifetime spent in the construction industry, Greg Di Pietro has seen a lot of changes and worked with a lot of GOMACO equipment and control systems, slipforming thousands of kilometres of curb and gutter and sidewalk. The first was a GT-6000, purchased in 1972 by a company called Weldon McEachen. It featured the Analog system, a proportional control system consisting of a sensor, amplifier and servo valve. 

“The GT-6000 was the first curb and gutter machine GOMACO put out,” Di Pietro said. “It only had two tracks and was still experimental in Canada. It was a little bit of fun to work with it.”

Di Pietro wanted to learn more about the machines he was operating, so in the late 1970s he attended his first classes at the GOMACO Education Center, now GOMACO University, led by Dennis Clausen, Director of Training.  “The University wasn’t where it is now,” Greg Di Pietro explained. “It was in a little shop and just a small classroom, no bigger than a double-car garage. I have been back many times since then and we’ve sent other guys from the company, too. It’s a good school.”

As GOMACO machines evolved, so did Di Pietro’s skills as an operator and company manager. His present company, Curbside Construction Ltd., was created in 1987 with him and three other partners specializing in concrete projects, specifically curb and gutter and sidewalk. They purchased a new GOMACO three-track Commander III for their slipforming projects, and it is still owned and operated by Curbside today. As the company grew, so did their inventory of GOMACO curb and gutter machines, with more GT-6300s and a GT-3600.

Curbside became a family-owned company in 2007 when Di Pietro purchased it along with his two sons, Gerry and Larry. Gerry works in the field as a machine operator and Larry serves as general manager. 

Staying competitive, looking for advantages and growing the company in a competitive market have been the main focus for Curbside in the last 10 years. Beyond curb and gutter, they look for unique applications and new machines to make their sidewalk operation more efficient.

Major ICI project

One of their unique projects, which they completed late last year, was for a newly constructed distribution centre in Toronto. Curbside slipformed 10.2 kilometres of dolly pads for the semi-trailers to park on, as well as eight kilometres of barrier curb around the perimeter of the facility. 

“It’s one of the largest Industrial Commercial Institutional (ICI) projects Toronto has seen in the last 20 years and we’re happy to be on it and a part of it,” Larry Di Pietro said during the construction work. “Basically, there’s over 500,000 tons of crushed ground limestone on the site, 100,000 tons of hot mix asphalt, and over 10.2 kilometres of dolly pads which are three metres wide. It gives you a little bit of an idea of the enormity of the site. Lastly, there are over 30,000 square metres (322,928 square feet) of concrete apron, so quite the size of a job for a private company.”

Curbside used their GT-6300 with the new 3100 series mold to slipform the dolly pads. Each pad is 500 metres long and 200 millimetres thick, with welded wire mesh hand-placed on the grade. 
During slipforming, the GT-6300 constantly adjusted for changing slope and correct drainage for each dolly pad. Water has to flow correctly across the huge facility.

“It’s a challenge because on every catch basin we have to change the slope of the pad,” Greg said. “We go from level to one percent, 2.5 percent or three percent, so we keep dialing in and out the different slopes as we follow the slope of the parking lot. The GT-6300 is working exactly as we anticipated with no problems at all.”
The crew easily slipformed approximately 350 cubic metres or one 500-metre-long dolly pad each day they poured. It was good production considering project developers had specified handforming the dolly pads in the original bid.

“Originally the project was spec’d with double-layer rebar and the pads were to be hand poured,” Larry explained. “Thanks to GOMACO, one of the ways we were able to get this job and be the low bid was to offer a value engineering proposal with slipformed dolly pads with wire mesh. Everyone is looking to get the work, so you always have to find ways to save money, ways to edge out the competition.”

The company used their GOMACO GT-3600 to slipform the project’s curb and gutter. The site has approximately eight kilometres of curb on the project. Around the perimeter of the facility is a 410- to 610-millimetre-tall barrier curb. A portion of the barrier curb was slipformed using the Topcon mmGPS machine guidance system. It was a demo which Topcon set up for them to test out the stringless guidance system. The slipforming went well and Curbside is considering a system for next season.

Curbside ran a total of four crews each day. Three crews worked on mainline curb and gutter with the GOMACO equipment, and a fourth crew was in charge of sidewalk. 

“Had to get it”

It is because of Curbside’s continuing quest to offer their customers the best product possible at the most economical price that led them to the GT-3200 sidewalk paver with the G+ control system. 
“I saw it in a video and I knew we had to get it,” said Gerry Di Pietro, operator of the GT-3200 sidewalk paver. “We monitored projects where we could use it and talked to inspectors here and there, and then we decided to take the plunge and buy it.”

“It’s a nice machine and is saving us a lot of work,” Greg said. “We have to convince a lot of the municipalities that we’re doing a good job with it and they have to accept it. It takes a little bit of time for the municipalities to come on board and say okay. But, I go back, when we started using the curbing machine for curb, it was the same way. Even though it’s a better job, we have to convince other people that we are doing a better job.”

Their GT-3200 sidewalk paver is outfitted with a 1.8-metre rock placing mold or a minimum-clearance trimmer. Sidewalk projects in their region often require a 102-millimetre rock base which Curbside places with the GT-3200 and rock placing mold. Then, they remove the mold and equip the paver with their trimmerhead to trim any excess base as they slipform the sidewalk. 

The widths of their slipformed sidewalk vary between 1.49 and 1.79 metres wide. Production and quality have improved with the new GT-3200. 

“The precision is like no other, obviously,” Larry said. “We’ve had some really good production days. We poured 190 cubic metres in one day in Lindsey, Ontario, last year. It was a nice, large project with nothing in the way and we put down over 2,000 square metres of sidewalk. By hand, you’re probably looking at 300 to 400 square metres a day.”

“That’s like a week’s worth of work,” Gerry added. “We did that in a day... a week in one day. That’s incredible. It’s a better product, too. It’s a flat sidewalk.”

Curbside Construction is a proud, family-owned company with deep roots in the construction industry in Canada. As Larry and Gerry take over more of the day-to-day operation of the company, Greg is freed up to enjoy his time on their job sites, helping out where necessary, confident in knowing his company is in good hands. 

“GOMACO has been true to our family and to our heart for many years,” said Greg’s son, Larry. “My dad, since I was a little baby, he’d be running off to GOMACO’s head office for the training courses. I’ve seen him running a machine for years. Again, it’s up to us to grow. I think without GOMACO we wouldn’t be able to be as successful. We constantly converse with them, with our distributor, as well as the head office and are constantly bouncing ideas off each other. I think it’s been a great team so far.”