Five Springfield neighborhoods will benefit from a preservation project as the City of Springfield continues to maintain historic brick sidewalks. Four of the five are north Springfield neighborhoods. Springfield is home to more than 17 miles worth of original brick sidewalk still utilized today, more than any city in America.
Every three years, funds allocated from the ¼-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax are used to restore historic brick sidewalks in areas determined to be “Corridors of Preservation”. Funding for brick rehabilitation is set at 10 percent of the budget for sidewalk reconstruction set in 2010: $3 million. This year, $250,000 has been allocated to fund the West Central, Woodland Heights, MidTown, Robberson, and Grant Beach neighborhood project sites. Total, these sites measure 28 miles of roadway, with concrete and brick sidewalks on each side. These sites were selected by a Brick Sidewalk Task Force comprised of citizens representing neighborhood associations and city officials. The project includes assessing the area, removing the old brick from the site, and getting rid of the badly damaged bricks. The historic bricks that are still usable are cleaned and restored, then put back into its place using a newer engineering model that includes other natural elements such as gravel and polymeric joint sand that fills the gap between the bricks for a stronger bond to help keep the bricks in place and preserve them into the future. In 2011, 7,349 linear feet of brick rehabilitation was done, but there is still more work to be done.
Jason Saliba, project manager and “Engineer in Training” for Public Works, gave insight into how and why these projects are done: “People like brick because of the historical element … Brick can last 100 years in some cases, while concrete will only give you 30-40 years.” Saliba said one of the main additions to the brick rehab is metal edge restraints that keep the brick from crowing out of its place—which is problematic for sidewalks. In most cases, the bricks were not engineered correctly when placed many years ago, so it is important to redo them for future use. The bricks have endured a lot of wear and tear from natural forces like heat, rain, snow, and other weather elements, being driven on by cars, and being overrun with weeds and grass.
Each Corridor of Preservation’s neighborhood association has input into the design of the newly laid brick and the segment section for rehab. This ensures public participation in the process. Every Corridor of Preservation will get rehabilitation within this project year with at least 1,000 linear feet of brick rehabilitation.
The project started April of this year and is slated to finish in April 2015. They are currently finishing work on Broadway and Lombard in the West Central site—their first project of the year. Next, they will move to the Woodland Heights Neighborhood focusing on Atlantic Street.