Public input needed on brick streets’ future

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4th Street between Market and Dock in downtown Wilmington is part brick, part asphalt.
4th Street between Market and Dock in downtown Wilmington is part exposed brick, part asphalt. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

The City of Wilmington is seeking input from the public through an online survey regarding brick streets in the city.

Many of the brick streets, the majority of which are downtown, are historic and add to the charm of the older parts of town but are expensive to maintain and repair. However, some streets that have been paved over with asphalt have been damaged over the years, and those repairs are also costly.

There are about four miles of brick roads, both exposed and unexposed, throughout the city of Wilmington, according to city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert. Though the age of the brick streets vary, some of the historic ones are around 100 years old.

According to Talbert, the survey is not a questionnaire about whether the city should have brick roads.

“This is about how to best preserve the existing brick streets that we already have,” said Talbert. “We’re trying to figure out the best way to deal with them.”

In September, the city exposed the brick road under Red Cross Street between 6th and 8th Streets downtown, using a new removal process that used thermal energy heaters to break up the asphalt on top of it.

“As part of coming up with recommendations for council, we’ve experimented with different ways to see what would work best and what’s more cost effective, and this was one of them,” Talbert said.

City staff is compiling the data from their experiments and other research, which will include the results of the online survey, to present before council in the spring.

“We want this to be very comprehensive,” said Talbert, who said the city will also be talking with civic groups and downtown businesses and residents that will be directly affected. “The goal is to create a standard policy for dealing with these streets.”

The survey, which is open to anyone, will be available until middle to late January.