Urbana City Council recommends replacing brick streets with concrete

By Fatima Farha

The brick streets on Broadway Avenue between Stebbins Drive and Oakland Avenue may soon be replaced by concrete.

The Urbana City Council Committee of the Whole voted to send the motion to council with recommendation for approval at its meeting Monday.

The motion was addressed with a presentation by Craig Shonkwiler, assistant city engineer, who said the brick streets on Broadway Avenue have deteriorated over the years due to heavy traffic, causing the roads to become uneven and run down.

“As an engineer, the brick roads are great in perspective that they’re very little maintenance for us, it’s just when they go, they go all in, and we’ve had emergency situations where we’ve had to close the streets,” Shonkwiler said. “We saw this as a street that is one of our worst riding streets with the worst foundation. So we thought it more than due to get it replaced at the time.”

Shonkwiler presented the council with three alternatives: the first would retain the brick pavements and only replace the deteriorating parts, while the second would replace the entire brick pavement with a new set of bricks. The third alternative would replace the brick with concrete, which would cost between $350,000 and $400,000, lower in comparison to the other alternatives, which he said could cost between $600,000 and $1 million.

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    Because the third alternative is least costly, the committee voted to recommend it for approval. Alderman Diane Marlin, Ward 7, said while the brick pavements are a historical part of the city, it is more practical to replace the brick with concrete because it would be easier for traffic.

    “For Broadway, a couple of the factors here, the cost difference is just too much for me to go with charm and nostalgia,” Marlin said. “I reluctantly will support converting this to concrete and hope that we can devote our remaining resources to keeping bricks in the residential areas.”

    The city council will consider the issue for final approval at its Feb. 16 meeting.

    Fatima can be reached at [email protected].