Visitors cautiously avoid crosswalks

A cloud of dust hovered over the Greene and Front streets intersection Tuesday morning as a Marietta streets crew continued to prepare for replacement of three brick pedestrian crosswalks along Front Street with a more durable brick-stamped concrete surface.

Traffic -both vehicle and pedestrian -was heavy as people flocked downtown to see the American Queen riverboat at the Ohio River Levee.

Among those sightseers were Marietta residents Angela Martin and her two children.

“We planned ahead and parked on one side of Front Street so we wouldn’t have to cross back and forth on our way to see the American Queeen,” Martin said.

All three pedestrian crosswalks in the 100 and 200 blocks of Front Street have been cordoned off with yellow caution tape. Many people cautiously navigated around those areas and through oncoming traffic in order to cross the street Tuesday.

Jodie Leach of Waterford was also in town for a glimpse of the American Queen. She appreciated that the work had to be done.

“It would have been nice if they could have kept real brick in the crosswalks, but I can see that economically this project makes sense for the city, and they’re trying to keep it looking like real brick,” she said. “I like to see the brickwork here in town. I think it’s a good reminder of our past.”

The stamped concrete will replace the current crosswalks that were installed using real bricks during a $515,000 resurfacing and pedestrian safety upgrade project along Front Street in 2009.

Brick-stamped concrete was originally recommended for the crosswalks by the city engineer’s office in 2009, but concerns were expressed by some downtown property owners that the red stamped concrete would not look like brickwork, so real bricks were used on a total of seven Front Street crosswalks.

Within the first year the brick walks began to loosen and deteriorate, and in 2012 city council approved replacement with stamped concrete.

Last year four of the most damaged crosswalks, located at the intersection of Front and Butler streets, were replaced with stamped concrete by Design-Crete of Marietta. The company was also awarded the stamped concrete contract for the remaining three Front Street crosswalks that will be completed over the next 10 to 12 days.

Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, said it was difficult to schedule the project so that it would not interfere with summer events taking place in downtown Marietta.

“There’s something going on almost every week here, and we were definitely trying to avoid doing the work during the week of the Sternwheel Festival,” he said. “We’ve been planning this since the end of May and early June, and have tried to work in between the festivals as well as the monthly Merchants and Artist Walks.”

City streets crews are removing the old brickwork and preparing the crosswalk subgrades. Design-Crete is expected to begin pouring the new stamped concrete today.

City streets superintendent Todd Stockel said two-way traffic will be maintained throughout the project, and, weather-permitting, Front Street will be open to normal traffic flow by Aug. 12.