Communities Recognize the Value of Brick Pavers

Communities around the country recognize the value of clay brick pavers.  The Cambridge Brickwalk Conservancy, Inc., (CBC) is a non-profit organization formed to preserve, maintain, and extend traditional brick sidewalks in Cambridge.  The organization recently blogged about some of the communities that appreciate brick pavers.  Please read below. Brickwalk Conservancy, Inc.

New Year’s Welcome

Hello Friends of Cambridge Brickwalk Conservancy. We welcome a New Year and look forward to mproving the stewardship of the City’s legacy brick sidewalks which have been treated with antipathy in recent years. A particularly glaring example is the wholesale removal of brick pathways (and replacing them with asphalt) during the recent renovation of the Cambridge Common.

In our last blog we talked about brick sidewalks in Portland, ME, and Salem, MA, and provided a brief section on the cities across the countries that are saving brick streets and sidewalks.
In this blog we will give further detail on the activities those cities have undertaken to preserve and extend legacy brick installations. There may be some ideas Cambridge could use from those examples.

Champaign and Urbana, IL.
Champaign public works staff in 1999 bought 292,800 bricks straight out of the ground of an East St. Louis stockyard. They were looking to the future of the antique roads. Their coveted pile of bricks is still holding out and it is worth 3+ times what they paid for it. Although it costs somewhat more to maintain the brick roads than a typical concrete or asphalt street, the Champaign engineer technician said the old roads typically last much longer. They do not absorb as much moisture as other road materials, and the bricks are tough to crack. The annual maintenance costs are a small price to pay to maintain the integrity of Champaign’s older neighborhood.
In nearby Urbana they have their own stockpile of bricks. The brick streets are about 50 plus years old. Urbana’s public works director claims that their some of their decades old brick streets have had little or no maintenance on them.
One of the policy changes Champaign made to ensure the longevity of their brick stockpile is to require contractors who excavate brick streets to replace the bricks they take out instead of shipping them to a landfill and putting in new bricks from the stockpile. Although there is more work for the contractors, it saves money since disposing of back-hoe damaged bricks at a landfill can get costly. However, the new policy has reduced the loss of bricks during maintenance projects from 80 percent to about 10 percent.
Daniel McCollum who sat on the city council said, “If you think of time, there is a street that has been there 100 years. How many things do you see that we build that survive with minimal maintenance for 100 years?”

Winter Park, FL.
Winter Park’s Park Avenue was a much different area 20 years ago. However, after extensive work to create a brick road to replace the earlier asphalt road, more than 140 shops and restaurants invite the tourists and residents to this beautiful tree-lined street. Many feel the inviting brick street has helped to make this happen.

Cumberland, MD.
The historic downtown area has beautiful brick streets and sidewalks. In the late 1970s, Baltimore Street was paved with bricks and became a pedestrian mall. The city keeps expanding the use of brick.

Brooksville, FL.
Their website prominently mentions the downtown brick sidewalks. And on the website for the Historic Brooksville Walking Tour there are photos of Augusta pavers which were laid in 1919. Many of their streets have brick.

Punta Gorda, FL.
Punta Gorda is on the west coast of Florida. The city’s historic district is known for its brick streets. They were endangered before a grassroots movement came to their rescue in the 1980s. After the city paved over a block of brick roadway, the citizens objected. Since then citizens have teamed with the city to re-brick 18 blocks following sewer and storm water pipe improvements. The people said they didn’t want to erase part of their history and aesthetics. And they believe the brick streets slow the traffic down. In this instance, Punta Gorda laid asphalt first as Cambridge is doing now. This community appreciates its history and they are proud that their legacy of brick streets lives on.
To get closer to Cambridge, we may want to look at Waltham, MA, which has replaced one of their main streets, Moody Street, with brick. Very attractive and is appropriate for a town with two centuries of history.
There are other cities which also value their historic streets and sidewalks. We hope Cambridge will see the value of preserving its brick sidewalks before current City policy renders them a distant memory..

Happy New Year!