City officials consider brick for West Street paving project

Forgoing concrete may be costly, delay completion

Annapolis

April 08, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Annapolis officials, seeking to extend the historic feel of Main Street to nearby West Street, are considering the use of brick instead of concrete on a popular stretch they're about to upgrade.

But the change could extend construction into the winter, and that would keep the busy section of restaurants and shops closed to cars into the Christmas shopping season.

The project is scheduled to be finished around October, in time for the annual boat shows. The change would add about $200,000 to the $1.7 million cost of the project.

Despite the possible delay, merchants were enthusiastic about getting brick streets, sidewalks and crosswalks. Though West Street lies in the city's historic district, the first block between Church Circle and Calvert Street has asphalt pavement and only partially bricked sidewalks.

"Almost everybody would like to see brick out there," said Brian Callahan, co-owner of 49 West Street, a coffee shop and restaurant, at a public meeting yesterday.

West Street, lined with shops, bars and restaurants, will be closed to vehicular traffic during the project, but work will only be done on one side of the street at a time. Business owners have been planning events such as concerts, outdoor dining and possibly film screenings to continue attracting customers.

The project is the last stage of a $13 million project to improve lower West Street. The city recently completed utility and streetscape work in the 100 block.

Many other projects are in the works, such as a two-year renovation of the nearby College Creek Bridge; city officials warn that traffic delays are probable.

While city officials are also eager to lay brick on West Street, the process could be complicated, said Margaret B. Martin, director of public works.

The $1.7 million contract to renovate West Street has already been awarded to Civil Construction of Cheverly and did not include money for brick.

City officials could begin renegotiating with Civil Construction, but since the contract has already been signed, "that puts us in a precarious negotiating position," Martin said.

She raised the possibility of finishing renovations this fall, then having another contractor add brick next spring. But several merchants at yesterday's meeting said they think the brick would be a good addition and don't want to wait.

Said Callahan: "It's going to be 15 years before we get [this chance] again, so let's just do it."

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