Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

1993 BRICK PROJECT PAVED THE WAY FOR A SUPERIOR FUTURE

Morning Star, September 10, 2017, pg. 4

Donít forget, Iíll have my Albion History Booth at the Festival of the Forks in the Market Place in the vendor area along the Kalamazoo River wall between posts numbers 9 and 10 on Saturday, September 16. Drop by and see what I have.

We continue with my series about the history of Albionís downtown brick street. In 1993, Albionís 1940 bricks were replaced with new ones, but the 1940-laid base was left intact. The Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce in an effort to help its downtown merchant members, provided strong leadership and organized a promotional campaign entitled "Paving the Way For a Superior Future." Back-door entrance signage was placed up-and-down Superior St., and the Chamber did all it could to help lessen the disruption the project caused. There were buttons issued, a special Albion post office postmark used, and various promotions were held throughout the summer of 1993.

The new bricks arrived in Albion on Monday afternoon, June 14, 1993, and in the subsequent weeks were hand laid by a Brazilian work crew which spoke Portuguese. Hand installation of the new bricks began on Friday, June 18, 1993 at the Ash St. intersection, moving northward. The addition of the Erie to Ash St. section was made possible as the result of an historical restoration grant by the Michigan Department of Transportation. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of yours truly laying the first brick in front of the Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce on June 14, 1993. I served as the Chamber photographer for the project.


Frank Passic, on June 18, 1993 laying the first brick

The 1993-laid velour paver bricks were the smallest of all. They were manufactured in Bigler, Pennsylvania by the Glen-Gery Brick Corporation. They weigh 4 pounds each. The bricks measure 8" x 4" but are only 2 ľ" thick. "K & W" red-colored bricks were used for the driving areas, with pedestrian, center and parking lines marked by ivory-colored bricks. It was soon discovered after installation and some of the lines were not up to current state codes, and the Michigan Department of Transportation had to place double yellow lines down the center of the street, thus covering over the center white brick line. Some of the parking area white brick lines also became obsolete and created confusion through the years.

The major downfall of the 1993-laid brick street project was not replacing the 1940-laid concrete base. That base was cleaned and a layer of asphalt was laid on top to smooth things over. The new bricks were laid on that. After a couple of years had passed, portions of the 1940-concrete base began to crack and sink, leaving Superior St. very bumpy. Each year new potholes appeared which had to be "fixed." There were other problems such as when the railroad raised its grade and creating a bigger "hill" at the railroad tracks. When the trucks stopped there at the new before-the-tracks red light and then started up again, the torque caused pulling on the bricks. This created loose bricks and sunk the 1940 concrete base underneath.

Our second photograph this week compares the thickness of a 1910 Superior St. brick on the left, and a 1993 brick on the right. There is quite a significant difference, isnít there?


1910 brick, 1993 brick

Next: ALBION PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAD DIFFICULT START IN 1867

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All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic

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