City’s last brick street adds wrinkle to pothole problem

March 20, 2019

Jan Daly said she’s worried about the future of her street as the snow continues to thaw.

Living on Rochester’s last section of brick street, she said it hurts to see bricks shift due to the changing weather.

“It’s really bad, and I’m really sad,” she said of the changes, which were first noticed Friday.

Rochester Public Works has closed the block of Ninth Avenue Southwest between Sixth and Seventh streets, limiting access to the six property owners on the street. The street will remain closed until repairs can be made in the spring.

“The winter has been hard on that street, just like any other street in Rochester,” City Engineer Dillon Dombrovski said.

A little more than a year ago, the neighbors along the single block were hoping the city would agree to restore their street, but the potential of nearly $64,000 in individual homeowner assessments stalled those efforts.

Neighbors have reportedly had mixed responses regarding the assessments, which would pay for work beyond the estimated $150,000 it would cost the city to reconstruct the block as a standard residential street.

At the time, only one neighbor had reportedly signed an agreement to pay the anticipated cost.

With bricks sinking into the wet ground and others bulging from the street, Rochester Public Works Director Chris Petree said the possibility of saving the decades-old brick street remains.

“It can definitely remain a brick street. It just needs to be reconstructed, and we need some direction from the property owners and elected officials,” said Petree, who became director approximately three months after the initial street discussion was put on hold.

Daly said the neighbors continue to hold onto hope that the historic street stays in place. To do that, they’ve been in touch with the U.S. Parks Service to see if it can be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Meanwhile, Petree said he plans to raise the issue with the City Council and noted needed repairs will likely be made after the frost is out of the ground. Some bricks will likely return to their original positions after the thaw.

While the brick nature of the block-long section of Ninth Avenue Southwest is unique, Petree said weather-related problems are not.

An increasing number of potholes are being added to maintenance crews’ lists, and repairs are being prioritized as they come in.

Petree said he encourages anyone spotting potholes or other issues in city streets to call the Public Works Department at 507-328-2400.