Excerpt from the Baltimore Sun:
In the hopes of creating a street that lasts, the Historic Preservation Commission on Thursday voted to approve a city plan to re-brick Main Street in downtown Annapolis.
The approval allows the city’s Department of Public Works to vet bids to uproot the bricks and asphalt, which have failed 22 years after the original bricking.
In 1995, public works transformed the asphalt street into a historic-style brick thoroughfare. But crews used an asphalt layer meant for lighter traffic flow, said public works Director David Jarrell. Following opposition from business owners about weight restrictions, the city allowed heavy trucks to again use Main Street.
The street also did not undergo regular sanding — a process typically done once a year — for its first 10 to 15 years, Jarrell said.
“Streets like that should last a long time, and it’s only been 22 years,” Jarrell said. “It should last at least twice that. Fifty years is not unusual for a brick street.”
The HPC on Sept. 12 granted the city a continuance, pending the presentation of brick, caulk and concrete finish samples. The committee also reviewed an archaeological report from the 1995 project to identify sensitive areas for monitoring. It might seem much ado about nothing for some, but the commission’s involvement is “really not about preserving 1995,” said Sharon Kennedy, HPC chairwoman.
Main Street is part of the Historic District, thus making any exterior changes to the roadway subject to commission approval. But the subtleties of the Main Street project are of great importance, Kennedy said.
The Main Street re-bricking — to take place between April and September 2018 — will mostly deal with ground already disturbed. But public works will install a drain near the right lane of Main Street near Conduit Street that might go below the 1995 dig.
Public works will repave one section at a time, beginning with the top between Church Circle and Conduit Street. The city will remove brick pavers and the underlying layers one lane at a time, then move to the bottom section between Francis Street and Memorial Circle.
While lifting the bricks on the middle section, the city will lay bricks on the top section, closing the street between Church Circle and Francis Street.
The city will finish reconstruction on the bottom and middle sections by October.
The bulk of the construction will take place during the summer — when businesses are their busiest and rely on a steady flow of tourists and Annapolitans. Main Street business owners testified before the HPC at their Sept. 12 meeting and expressed concern.
On Main Street, Brown Eyed Girl owner Katherine Stanfield said she feels abandoned.
“The fact that they were saying that they’re really trying to get it completed by boat show feels so offensive to me,” she said. “Boat show comes in twice a year, and the whole city wants to cater to them, but I’m here every day all day shoveling my sidewalk, paying my taxes and if I feel like if the city doesn’t make enough money off me because I’m not a bar or a boat show or a hotel, they don’t care.”
Back Creek Books owner Rock Toews said the street is rutted because of deliveries to the bars, and other businesses are paying the price, he said. Toews advocated going back to asphalt or reinstating a weight limit.
The city can’t do asphalt work in the winter because asphalt plants are not open, Jarrell said. But the city is talking with the Downtown Annapolis Partnership about scheduled festival-like events when the street is closed.
“There’s no great time to do this,” he said.