The village of Oak Park plans to replace the granite pavers lining the crosswalk at Marion Street and South Boulevard with scored, colored concrete this fall. The higher-end treatment will make the concrete look the same as the granite pavers while offering more durability.
The granite was laid down in 2011 as part of the South Marion streetscape project, which cost roughly $5.4 million total. New Public Works Director Rob Sproule said the weight and volume of traffic traversing South Boulevard was much less then than the street now experiences.
The granite itself is not to blame, he said. The pavers were laid in an interlocking pattern, set in a bed. The pressure of moving vehicles, including snowplows during inclement weather, cause the individual pavers to move within the bed.
The pavers have held up well for north-south traffic, but the crosswalk’s east-west traffic has caused the pavers to shift, creating potholes that exacerbate over time, according to Sproule.
“We were having staff out there pretty regularly trying to reset these things,” he said.
The individual pavers will be replaced with a slab of concrete, which should put an end to the shifting. Construction crews will score the slab with a concrete saw to give it the appearance of interlocking pavers.
While Sproule was not the public works director in 2011 (he was formerly the village forester), he does not believe scored concrete was considered as an alternative to granite pavers at that time because the project was done to match the aesthetic of North Marion Street.
That was also before the influx of significant new development in downtown Oak Park, which has increased the volume of traffic in the area in recent years, amplifying the stress placed on the pavers.
“It probably wasn’t a concern at that point,” said Sproule.
The Public Works Department began looking into alternative materials while planning the Lake Street resurfacing project of 2019. Sproule and other public works staff were able to work with different concrete providers that offered color options.
The crosswalk project has already gone out to bid and the cost of replacement will not be known until the bids come in. The village has budgeted a total of $75,000 for streetscaping and other repairs, which includes the crosswalk. Sproule hopes to bring the project before the village board on Oct. 17, with construction on the crosswalk, ideally, completed before Thanksgiving.