Those driving on Front Street in downtown Marietta this week and next will see a change in traffic patterns.
Marietta's city streets department is overseeing replacement of the brick in four crosswalks with stamped, brick-colored concrete.
Just three years ago a $515,000 resurfacing and pedestrian safety upgrade along Front Street included the installation of the brick crosswalks but the bricks began sinking and loosening.
ROBB DeCAMP Special to the Times
Workers remove the crosswalk on Front Street Tuesday to make way for a concrete version that will be made to resemble bricks..
"There were many loose bricks caused by vehicles crossing the crosswalks," said Chris Hess, construction foreman for the city streets department. "It would cause trip hazards for pedestrians."
According to Hess, an area about two blocks long on the south side of First Street will be closed to traffic for a total of 14 days.
"We'll do compaction testing on the subgrade material (crushed aggregate) before we pour concrete," said Joe Tucker, city engineer.
At a glance
- 2009: City of Marietta undertakes a pedestrian safety upgrade. Several brick crosswalks were installed in downtown Marietta, rather than the brick-patterned stamped concrete originally planned.
- Between 2009 and 2012: Sinking crosswalk bricks cause a safety hazard for drivers and a tripping hazard for pedestrians on Front Street.
- Aug. 20, 2012: City undertakes a 14-day project to replace existing brick crosswalks with brick-patterned stamped concrete.
The stamped concrete replacing the bricks will be eight inches thick.
"The concrete should certainly take the pounding it's gonna get from truck traffic and vehicles," Tucker said.
"I feel that this will be a good fix," Hess noted. "I believe folks will be happy with it."
Tucker estimated the project's cost at $22,500.
Marietta residents said they were fine with the faux brick surfaces but less pleased with paying for the project twice. Original plans had called for using the stamped concrete but local property owners said they preferred real brick so a switch was made.
"I don't know if one (brick or stamped concrete) is better than the other," said Robert Bowman of Marietta, 42. "I think it's a ridiculously short life cycle for that kind of investment."
Zack Gibson of Marietta, 27, said he understands that the real bricks added authenticity to the downtown area.
However, Gibson noted, "I'm definitely in favor of (the city) doing the stamped concrete. They have stamped concrete in other parts of town, and it looks like brick."
Before beginning work to repair those hazards on Front Street, the city of Marietta put out street signs listing the dates for this week's street closing.
"I read about it on the city's Facebook page," said Dagmar Kupsche, owner of The Cook's Shop on Front Street.
"It didn't give us enough time to try to prepare ourselves," Kupsche added. "(The project) certainly affects the tourism crowd."
Those unfamiliar with the city, "typically turn around the area that's affected," she said.
Changed traffic patterns and construction didn't deter her customer Joe Krause. He was at The Cook's Shop buying certificates for cooking classes for his brother's birthday.
"I drove up from Athens to get to this store," Krause, 39, noted.
Sharon Dorsey of Zanesville, 71, had no problem making her way to Front Street's Twisted Sisters Boutique. She and her husband docked their boat in the Marietta Harbor after arriving in Marietta on Sunday.
"We just walked right up from the harbor," Dorsey noted.
"It's a little more inconvenient for customers, and they can't park near our building," said Suzi Hendrickson, assistant manager at Twisted Sisters Boutique.
Both retailers said they look forward to the project's completion.
"We (at Twisted Sisters Boutique) appreciate what the city is doing for the overall beauty and efficiency of the crosswalks," Hendrickson noted.