Traffic was blocked around the intersection of West Main and College streets Monday night and Tuesday morning as contractors removed the brick pavers from the four crosswalks. By afternoon, the pavers had been replaced with fresh asphalt.
At least in appearance, the brick crosswalks haven't permanently disappeared, but will return in the form of a brick-look composite material, interim City Manager Robert Cheshire explained. This week's work was the first phase of a fix of the troubled crosswalks on a $22,194 contract with Y-Delta Inc. approved July 1 by Statesboro City Council.
Y-Delta was also the general contractor, paid $625,451 by the city, for utility and street improvements at the intersection, completed a year ago.
The pavers repeatedly shifted and separated. Twice the city attempted repairs, removing and resetting most of the pavers once and then testing a careful repacking of one crossing a second time.
"They just were not holding up," said Cheshire, previously the city engineer. "We don't know if it's the type of traffic, the turning movements, the amount of water that comes down that hill. We've utilized these bricks on East Main and they've held up a lot better, but they just did not work here."
Because the pavers were installed as designed, the city does not blame Y-Delta for the problem, Cheshire said. The contractor, he said, has also worked with the city on the remedy and the pricing.
"We wanted to utilize them again. They wanted to be a part of the solution, since we were all scratching our heads with this, and I want to commend them on the work and efforts that they've done," he said.
City staff members researched the problem, went back to the engineers who did the original design, talked to some other engineers and to other contractors who have installed pavers.
What is being tried this time is replacing the separate pavers, which were set in a layer of sand on a concrete base, with a trademarked, continuous composite material designed to look like bricks. Even the original pavers weren't actual masonry bricks, but brick-colored concrete, he said.
A subcontractor, Sikes Brothers, installed the asphalt strips Tuesday after Y-Delta removed the paver crosswalks.
No public notice was given of the morning street closing because the contractor had twice before prepared to do the work and been stopped by rain, Cheshire said. With school starting Friday, the city wanted the work done as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
Now, the pavement strips will be allowed to cure for two or three weeks. When the paver-look crosswalks are installed, it will be done in the middle of the night, and no daytime street detour should be needed, Cheshire said.
Funded from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, last year's work at the intersection included improving the turn radius, moving traffic poles back, upgrading water and sewer lines, and installing decorative signal poles, as well as the crosswalks.
"We're all proud of the intersection itself," Cheshire said. "We think it was a really good improvement. This is just one element that we've struggled with."
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.