Foster City, CA
Installation Size 100,000 SF
Installed By Modern Paving 

Island J Complex Roadways 

Project Specs
Location Foster City, CA Installation Size 100,000 SF Installed By Modern Paving 

Retrofit Project Restores Old World Charm and Mitigates Flooding with Commercial Grade Cambridge Cobble® Pavers


Foster City is a community that was quite literally constructed from the ground up over 60 years ago. An engineering feat at the time, the developers purchased a four-square-mile patch of sea-level mud flats in San Francisco Bay. They raised the elevation of the entire island four to five feet by pumping 14 million cubic yards of sand from the bay onto the island, which took six years to accomplish. The city’s residential complex of Island J featured Greek architecture accented by picturesque cobblestone streets that had eroded over time and been patched in sections with concrete or asphalt.

The Challenge

In addition to making the streets bumpy and unsightly, the patchwork repairs had created a draining situation that had water pooling in residents’ yards for weeks after heavy rains. The Island J HOA needed a cost-effective solution for completely replacing the streets that would be aesthetically pleasing, address the drainage issues and handle heavy vehicular loads. “Residents have always asked if we could return to pavers instead of asphalt, but all previous estimates we received just put that dream out of reach,” explained Bart Besseling, Island J HOA president.

The Solution

The HOA decided to resurface the streets with asphalt and saved for 10 years to finance the project. When seeking bids, one of the companies contacted was Modern Paving. The company’s Vice President, David Tetrault, explained they didn’t work on asphalt projects but after discussing the parameters, provided an estimate for using pavers instead. “After talking to him, we were surprised and thrilled to find out we actually could afford to restore the beautiful look of pavers to the community for about what we’d saved for the asphalt,” said Besseling.

Tetrault began seeking a cobbled paver with the required commercial thickness to handle the vehicular loads. Although the 80mm thickness of Belgard Cambridge Cobble® was a special order, Belgard could manufacture the pavers more quickly than other companies that bid on the project, which was a key aspect. The HOA chose the Toscana color because it complemented the complex’s bright color scheme of white, blue and yellow properties. “The homes are the equity, so we didn’t want to draw attention away from them, but rather to blend nicely with them,” said Besseling.

To address the structural considerations, Tetrault recommended using geotextile fabric between the soil and the paver system “to keep the system independent of what’s going on beneath it,” he said. Modern Paving was also able to regrade the slope to mitigate the drainage issues. To minimize negative impact on the residents during installation, Modern Paving and the HOA developed a well-organized plan. Modern Paving worked on a small stretch of street at a time, including one of several parking lots. Work began after people left for the workday and stopped at five o’clock. Even USPS mail was rescheduled to be delivered after five.

The Result

With more than half the installation complete, the new roads look better, provide better drainage and even improve residents’ safety. “The asphalt roads felt like a freeway, so people drove at freeway speeds,” explained Besseling. “We have a lot of elderly as well as young families in this community and kids play in the streets, so it became a concern. Pavers automatically make people drive more slowly.”

The project also offers a good return on investment, with increased property values.

“Having new, sturdy and good-looking roads increased the equity of the entire HOA, which will also positively impact the value of each unit” – BART BESSELING ISLAND J HOA PRESIDENT

Additionally, future Island J HOA boards won’t have to set aside as much money for road maintenance. “With the engineering behind pavers, they’ll never have to replace that entire roadway again,” said Tetrault. “If you look at the roads the Romans built, they’re still there and these will be, too.” Island J now has a road system that reflects its timeless beauty and truly benefits its residents.