Open Source

This story is in response to a reader-submitted question through Open Source, a platform where readers can submit questions to the staff.

MOUNT VERNON — This isn’t the first time Mount Vernon City Engineer Brian Ball has heard a question focused on the city’s brick streets.

A Knox Pages reader asked:

— Why doesn’t the city of Mount Vernon prioritize fixing the uneven brick streets that are the cause of cars bottoming out in the intersections along E. Hamtramck, E. Burgess, E. Pleasant, E. Vine and Center Street?

Here’s the answer: 

One of the first contracts the engineering department finalized was to start repairs on Burgess Street near McKinley Street, currently fixing where the street dips. 

Recently, work has been completed on Vine and Burgess Street, Ball said, and on June 9 via email, City Engineer Brian Ball said work would begin on Hamtramck Street soon. 

Ball added brick streets have the longer “shelf life” for streets, with others including asphalt and concrete.

“It’s just if you don’t do maintenance, then it builds up on you,” he said. 

“So the concrete streets and the brick streets received no attention for several decades, and then occasionally they’ll do some maintenance on the brick streets.”

Ball pointed to former mayor Dick Mavis who started a program where about two blocks of brick streets were rebuilt every other year. The program was partially supported via federal funding, Ball said.

Funding for street repairs has increased since previous councils as well. 

“We’ve continued that and we’re getting there. It’s not lightning speed, but it’s like anything else, we pay $500,000 worth of asphalt every year, and we don’t spend the same amount of money on the brick streets. We don’t have as many lane miles either,” Ball said. 

It’s also about staying consistent, Ball said. “Every year we should plant trees, save roads, fix water lines. It’s just getting in the habit of doing it. And once everybody’s in the habit, we keep doing it.” 

City Auditor Terry Scott said the repairs for brick streets depend on the project at hand and what is the potential solution.

“Let’s say on your street where you live there’s this great big dip in the road.

“That type would be a maintenance repair where we would actually go in lift off all the bricks in that dipped in area and then put a new base back in and then put the bricks back in, put sand around it, just put some right back in like they were done in the 19 hundreds,” he said.  

The Knox Pages Open Source section is brought to you by Habitat for Humanity of Knox County.

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