June 11, 2010

Proposal to save bricks hits a roadblock

Bricks on College Avenue in Racine.

Two aldermen hope to force city contractors to save street bricks uncovered in road projects for the eventual reconstruction of College Avenue.

Aldermen Jeff Coe and Eric Marcus want to write an ordinance requiring the city to save paving bricks found in city construction projects and save them for use when brick streets need repair. They appeared by the City Council's Public Works Committee on Tuesday night to make their case.

Public Works Commissioner Rick Jones opposed the idea. He said many bricks uncovered in the construction project are unusable, it would cost $200,000 to store them for later use and it would slow city construction projects.

Marcus wrote on his aldermanic blog that " at least one non-profit organization in the city that would be willing to get the bricks and store them until needed." He also pointed out that Jones said many bricks were unusable, but also said contractors count on salvaging bricks when bidding on projects.

The committee eventually voted to send the proposal to the council's Committee of the Whole to create a policy for the repair or replacement of brick streets. The policy would include alternatives such as paving over the street, replacing it with concrete or charging homeowners to replace the bricks.

Preserving College Avenue is an ongoing challenge for whoever represents the city's Second District. Homeowners are reluctant to pay the high cost to preserve the brick street, but also don't want to lose the distinct feature. The city doesn't want to cover the entire cost, either.

Marcus's attempt to require recycling city pavers was an attempt to reduce the eventual cost of replacing the street. But the proposal appears to be stalled without Jones' support.