The Lafayette City Council Monday approved the first reading of a new ordinance aimed at preserving the city’s remaining brick streets.
The ordinance would require the city to re-pave and restore brick streets with brick, rather than concrete or asphalt.
Only nine stretches of brick street remain in Lafayette, mostly clustered around downtown and in the city’s Southwestern Highland Park neighborhood.
Purdue University civil engineering professor John Haddock says there’s a reason there aren’t many brick roads in Lafayette anymore. Even though they last a long time, when it comes time to finally replace them, he says it’s labor-intensive and expensive.
“The real drawback to brick is that cost of installation,” says Haddock. “Whenever you have to do anything with it, it’s all handwork, there’s no machine to place it where it has to go.”
He continues: “They have to take all those bricks, stack them out of the way, fix whatever they’re doing, bring the crew back in, spread the sand, get everything compacted right, and then get all the bricks back in place. So it’s really, really labor-intensive.”
Still, the diplomatic Haddock says he’s a fan of brick streets—in certain areas.
“Does that mean I think that’s the way to go for all our streets? No, probably not,” he says. “Each street’s kind of an individual case, right? If it’s not heavily-trafficked and it’s already in brick it might be OK to leave it.”
One such neighborhood is Highland Park, which houses three of the city’s brick streets. Highland Park Neighborhood Association President Kevin Alyea says all but one neighbor he polled wants to keep the streets intact.
Even though there are forces want to remove them and just want to pave them over because of emergency equipment, ease of travel, watershed,” he says, “the fact is people enjoy brick streets and they want to keep them.”
Of the 265 miles of roads maintained by the City of Lafayette, only 1.2 miles of brick streets remain untouched.
When asked why Lafayette should pay more money to preserve roads in a relatively tiny fraction of the city’s roads, resident Peter Urcuioli takes a “rising tide lifts all boats” attitude.
“It does lend an attractiveness to some parts of Lafayette,” he says. “And I would hope that people who live in other parts of Lafayette would appreciate the fact the people would want to keep the things that beautify the community, wherever they actually may be.”
The council will vote again on the matter at next month’s meeting.