Archive for Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Brick restoration on New York Street reaches its final phase

Three blocks of brick are being rebuilt on New York Street. The months-long project will use about 430,000 bricks.

Three blocks of brick are being rebuilt on New York Street. The months-long project will use about 430,000 bricks.

Three blocks of New York Street are getting a makeover to return the neighborhood roads to their historic appearance. More than 400,000 bricks will be used.

August 11, 2010


Block by block, between 1960 and 1976, the historic bricks of New York Street, in one of Lawrence’s oldest neighborhoods, were paved over with asphalt.

“It was the convenient thing to do back then,” said David Cronin of the Public Works Department, noting that the ’60s and ’70s weren’t generally a good time for maintaining ties to our past.

“Now, people see the value in historic preservation,” said Cronin, the engineer on a project to restore the brick surface of the east Lawrence street.

Here’s a snapshot of the months-long project as it moves into its final phase.

How many blocks are being rebuilt?

Three: 900, 1000 and 1100 blocks of New York Street. This includes four intersections: Ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th.

How many bricks are being used?

About 430,000

Each brick is generally 8 inches long, 3.5 inches wide and 2.5 inches thick, though irregularities are common and complicate the rebuilding process. The bricks are not laid flat on the street, but on their sides.

Where do the bricks come from?

They are salvaged from the original street. The bricks are 100 years old, having first been laid in 1909-1910. The original street had two layers of bricks. The new street will have only one layer.

The process:

The original street was entirely removed, down to a dirt bed. The bricks were separated from the asphalt that had been laid over them. Then crews rebuilt the street from the ground up, starting with 9 inches of fly-ash-treated subgrade, 7 inches of asphalt base, 1 inch of sand and one course of salvaged brick (3.5 inches).

Why do the intersections look different?

The bricks in the intersection are laid in a herringbone pattern, while the street is a running bond pattern. The herringbone pattern, with bricks on the diagonal, can better accommodate the force exerted by turning cars.

When is the project expected to be finished?

Late October or early November. Two-thirds of the project is complete now. (Aug. 5)

How much did the project cost?

$576,842 was the contract price. All the money came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal stimulus program. A new stone curb — instead of concrete — will be installed in the 1100 block that will add another $18,000 to the price. The stone was requested by the neighborhood to replace the crumbling historic stone already there.

How many jobs were created?

The project has provided work to about 50 people.

How many workdays were lost to rain/heat?

A couple of weeks to rain; no days lost to heat.

How many brick streets are in Lawrence?

The city has 24 miles of brick streets, but only about 3.5 miles of exposed brick. The rest are paved over.

How is a brick street maintained?

Similar to other streets. During winter, smaller snow-plow trucks are used. More sand and less plowing preserves the integrity of the brick.

What are the advantages to brick as a material?

Brick is a natural traffic-calming device. One of the reasons this street was chosen is because it is in front of New York School. Brick streets don’t get potholes like paved streets; generally there is less maintenance. They are also a good fit aesthetically for historic neighborhoods.

Were any interesting discoveries made while excavating the old street layers?

All the bricks are different shapes and sizes. Most of the brick on this project has the “Lawrence, Kansas” stamp. The Ohio Street project (of 2008) did not have that many stamped. Some streets were originally built with the bricks mortared together; some just have sand between them. The original streets were built with a parabolic crown, meaning the closer you get to the curb the more the elevation drops. Maybe this was to facilitate/hold drainage from when horses were used for transportation.

Source: David P. Cronin, project engineer, Public Works Department


Mike Hatch 7 years, 9 months ago

I have never experienced a smooth ride when driving down any brick-paved in Lawrence or any other town.

Bursting 7 years, 9 months ago

Hence the point "Brick is a natural traffic-calming device. One of the reasons this street was chosen is because it is in front of New York School."

Mike Hatch 7 years, 9 months ago

I know that bricks weren't meant to be driven over at high rates of speed. When I have to drive on them, I'm usually at around 15 mph. Sure, they look kind of neat, but streets are meant to be used, not just looked at.

Bob Burton 7 years, 9 months ago

Lets see.. Streets of brick are very rough.. New York is the worst street I have been on.. The weeds growing in the street should make Lawrence proud..

Vinny1 7 years, 9 months ago

What a complete and utter waste of money.

nut_case 7 years, 9 months ago

Absolutely true, But when we're 14 trillion in the hole and adding ~4+ billion ever day, what the hell, right? Just lay off a few more teachers, can a few cops, and disband the fire department and we can brick another few blocks of road so it will look nice for our new Chinese overlords.

Julie Jacob 7 years, 9 months ago

How is this cost saving when this road has 20.5 (If I read it correctly) inches of subgrade? Also I would have thought that brick streets would provide better drainage, but the "7 inches of asphalt base" leads me to believe that it's just as impremeable as other streets.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

"an asphalt surface road requires resurfacing at least every 5 years."

But as we all know, in E. Lawrence an asphalt road isn't going to get resurfaced until at least 10 years after it really needs it.

Moderateguy 7 years, 9 months ago

Ah yes, the magical pixie dust federal money. Mana from heaven. Complete waste and therefore a perfect fit for Porkulous. Perhaps the residents of the streets should also give up their indoor plumbing and burn coal for heat. How quaint.

Danimal 7 years, 9 months ago

If properly maintained brick streets can be beautiful and unique surfaces for low-traffic residential streets that will last almost forever. Unfortunately, Lawrence hasn't properly maintained any of its streets in around 20 years so it's only a matter of time before these streets again become treacherous, buckled washboards.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

They were paved over because it was the fashionable and "modern" thing to do. And likely because as a short-term fix, it was cheaper to do than repair the brick streets.

Of course, the asphalt they laid was worn out within 10 years or less. If they had fixed the brick streets back then, they would have lasted just fine for another 30, 40, 50 years or more.

Iknownothing 7 years, 9 months ago

Glad they can spend money on bricks streets but are school are broke too !

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 9 months ago

My comment echos some of the above.

The clueless city commission bleeds and wails about being poor and broke, yet this kind of political foolishness gets funded. What a great bunch of city operators we have dangling from the string of a core-less city manager.

Be sure to vote for the most yard signs you see, your city government depends on your support.

J Good Good 7 years, 9 months ago

I know reading the article is clearly not a requirement to comment, but NONE of the money is from the City of Lawrence.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 9 months ago

"All the money came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal stimulus program"

Tax money from the Federal Government Bailout Stimulus. Where do you think this money comes from! Do they pass the hat at the Stadium?? This is TAX MONEY that is taken from you at the point of a prison term by the Federal Government and then given out to buy votes for whatever political agenda is currently in need of shoring up. How about using this "stimulus money" to stimulate job growth, school improvements and funding, perhaps paying teachers instead of laying them off. DOn't give me crap about what it is intended for, it is intended to buy votes. It is your and my money and I do not like using my money for these "feel good" projects when so much more necessary items go unfunded and neglicted.

See, I did read the article and I still think this is a very bad example of pork barrel politics.

Janet Lowther 7 years, 9 months ago

What I don't get is why they built such a huge dip in the 11th & New York intersection.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

It's been there as long as I can remember-- I assume it's to facilitate runoff during heavy rains.

Iknownothing 7 years, 9 months ago

It will be a round about in 2 or 3 years

Iknownothing 7 years, 9 months ago

It will be a round about in 2 or 3 years

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