Buried somewhere underneath two blocks of North Humphrey are brick streets, now covered in asphalt. Those streets are due for a makeover, but rather than slapping on more asphalt, Oak Park Village Hall plans to unearth the old brickwork in the near future.
Oak Park decked out a handful of streets with bricks as part of a pilot program a couple of years ago, but the effort was eventually scrapped because of the high costs. Bricks are pricier than asphalt initially, but officials say they last much longer, saving costs in the long-run.
The village was set to redo the 500 and 600 blocks of North Humphrey with asphalt, while also fixing the underground sewers. Village Engineer Jim Budrick gave trustees the option of, instead, restoring the original bricks buried a few inches under the street, which trustees picked instead.
Even if it costs an extra $188,000 to deck out those two blocks in bricks, and redo the 400 block of Clinton with concrete instead of asphalt, the $2.76 million contract still came in under budget, said Trustee Ray Johnson. (The contract also includes redoing six blocks in asphalt, too.)
"To be that close to brick and not go with that seems unfortunate, and more costly," Johnson said.
Budrick recommended that the village save the $188,000, and use it toward other items that will need funding later this year — such as $75,000 Oak Park plans to spend later this year to have a consultant run cameras through village sewers to figure out whether there's any blockage.
Trustees John Hedges and Bob Tucker voted no, wanting to instead save the extra $188,000 by using nothing but asphalt.
Budrick said some 30 miles of brick streets in Oak Park were covered with asphalt in the 1950s, though he's unsure why.
The contractor will start redoing the streets likely in the spring, grinding off the top 3 inches of asphalt, and then flipping over the bricks that are buried under the street. Oak Park has some bricks that were buried under the 1100 and 1150 blocks of South Lombard, which are now stockpiled at the old Volvo dealership on Madison Street. The contractor plans to use those leftovers to fill up any of the gaps on Humphrey, Budrick said.
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