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Newly laid bricks in Martinsburg crosswalks uneven and displaced

Engineer says 'it appears the bedding material beneath the brick is moving to a certain degree'

September 08, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Newly laid bricks in crosswalks at town square in Martinsburg, W.Va., are unsettled as vehicles cross them Thursday.
By Matthew Umstead, Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Bricks laid last month for the new crosswalks at town square in Martinsburg have since become uneven and displaced, spurring officials to explore options to correct the paver problem.

Daniel Watts, acting area engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways, said Thursday that he doesn't think the brick itself is to blame, but isn't exactly sure what is causing the displacement at the intersection of Queen and West King streets.

"It appears the bedding material beneath the brick is moving to a certain degree," Watts said.

The Division of Highways is evaluating the problem, but Watts said a plan to correct it will be developed and carried out as soon as possible.

Watts said an on-site meeting on the issue was held Thursday morning with all the project stakeholders.

Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin said everyone attending the meeting, which included the brick supplier and contractors who have worked on the project, generally agreed that some corrective action needed to be taken.

"It was a good step forward," Baldwin said of the meeting.

Now is the time to address the problem and work to ensure the long-term durability of the improvements under way, Baldwin said. The $1.6 million pedestrian safety project is not projected to be completed until Oct. 31.

Watts said he is unsure whether the square at Queen and West King streets will have to be closed to traffic again to fix the brickwork.

Town square was closed to traffic for about three weeks in July and August to allow contractors to expedite work in the middle of the square's busy intersection.

The square reopened on Aug. 18 in advance of Bike Night and the first day of school for Berkeley County students, but East King Street remains closed to vehicles traveling on West King and Queen streets. Businesses in the 100 block of East King Street can still be accessed from Spring Street.

Whatever option is taken to correct the problem will be incorporated in the brickwork that has yet to be done in the East King Street portion of the project, according to Watts.

The square redesign includes new landscaping, green spaces in the 100 block of East King Street, a small amphitheater-like stage for performances and a fountain. A veterans memorial and a cluster of flags are to be repositioned in the square.

The fountain is part of a boulevard-like feature that is expected to divide traffic lanes on East King Street and improve pedestrian safety for the crosswalk there.  

A statue of city founder Revolutionary War Maj. Gen. Adam Stephen also is part of the square's new design, but is expected to be funded separately.

The deadline for sculptors to submit their qualifications is Sept. 15, according to architect Matthew Grove. Three finalists are scheduled to be chosen next month and their "maquettes" — small-scale models of a finished sculpture — are expected to be submitted for consideration by Jan. 18, according to Grove.

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