Sidewalks will have bricks

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The original plan for Vandalia’s downtown enhancement project called for brick pavers to be used to enhance the sidewalks. That plan was revised, with stamped concrete instead of brick, to cut project costs.

But city officials have learned that it will actually be cheaper to use brick pavers for sidewalk edging and insets.

And the advisory committee formed by Mayor Rick Gottman for the downtown enhancement project is hoping that the bricks used are ones taken from Gallatin Street.

That issue was one of two considered by the downtown advisory committee on Monday, the other being the color of the stamped concrete in the crosswalks on Gallatin Street.

The crosswalks issue was the one requiring quick action, because contractors were preparing to lay concrete in crosswalks at the Sixth Street intersection as early as Wednesday.

The city had contractors provide three color samples – clay, orange and brick red – in the area of The Depot for committee members to look at.

Committee members chose the brick red color, saying that it would more closely match the sidewalk brick edging and insets than the other two.

Most of the one-hour meeting was spent discussing whether to go back to the original plan of using bricks for the sidewalk edging and insets.

Lorne Jackson of HMG Engineers told committee members that contract currently calls for colored and stamped concrete to be used, with the cost being $196,425.

The general contractor, Hank’s Excavating of Belleville, is now saying that it would be $7,627 cheaper to go with bricks instead of colored and stamped concrete.

The total cost of $188,798 includes $51,675 for the bricks and $137,123 for the installation of those bricks.

In addition to the cost savings, Jackson said, the use of bricks would be better as far as any maintenance work needed on or below the sidewalks. “That would be better than trying to match the color and pattern. The stamped concrete would fade over time,” he said.

On the idea of switching back to bricks, Bret Brosman, committee member and alderman, said, “I really like the idea of utilizing our own bricks.” Vandalia Main Street Program Manager Dana Whiteman agreed.

Brosman was referring to bricks that are being removed from underneath the existing concrete on Gallatin Street. Those bricks are being hauled to Andy Craig’s warehouse complex on Main Street, and are currently being sold to a Granite City woman who is cleaning the bricks and selling them to contractors.

The committee initially talked about the city retain ownership of those bricks and have cleaned by volunteers and individuals required to perform community service work under their probation terms.

But that idea was quickly shot down.

“You’re going to have to have a committee a lot bigger than what we had to put up tents (at the bluegrass festival),” said Larry Bennett, alderman and committee member. “You can’t get people to volunteer like you used to.”

Gottman also nixed the idea of using people of probation, saying that they wouldn’t be covered through the city for worker’s compensation. “They can come back on you if they get hurt,” Gottman said.

The mayor said

Craig was scheduled to talk with the Granite City woman this week, to see what she would charge the city for chipping away any concrete and asphalt.

He said, “For what you’re doing, those bricks would be perfect. Some have concrete and asphalt on them, but for the most part, they are pretty much ready. But they’re not mortar ready.”

The issue will go to the city council for a final vote at an upcoming meeting.

Having favored the idea of bricks over colored and stamped concrete, the committee had to make a recommendation on whether to stay with a circular design for the sidewalk insets or switch to a diamond pattern.

Jackson said, “With pavers, you can’t do a circular pattern (with cutting some bricks). You have to go with something diamond or square.”

Downtown merchant Donelle Conaway said that she still favors a circular pattern, “because it’s softer,” and another merchant, Rita Mae Allen, agreed with her.

Whiteman and committee member Pam Yates said they also liked a circular design better, but were willing to support a diamond pattern if it made for a better finished product.

“If you do a circle pattern,” Jackson said, “I think you’ll be disappointed.”

The committee voted to recommend to the council a switch to the diamond pattern.