Saturday, March 31, 2012

Main Street Paving By The Numbers

1916 Main Street paving, looking south from Fourth (Courtesy of Tom Case)
This coming week, the long-awaited makeover of Main Street in downtown Rochester will commence. The eight month project will include 12 weeks of complete road closure and is expected to cost around $5.6 million. When the excavation work begins in earnest in a few weeks, the layers of pavement will be peeled back to uncover a time capsule, of sorts, of Main Street history.  As the contractors dig, they will reveal Main Street's first pavement, a brick roadway that was laid in 1916.  Here's what the contractor's advertisement in the Rochester Era issue of  October 6, 1916 had to say:
The Williston Construction Company
of Chicago, Illinois
C.A. Williston in charge, have just completed the paving of Main street, Rochester, Michigan.
The brick, Hocking Valley Shale, was laid on a cement filler, with sand cushion and cement filler.
In the job 600,000 brick were used by the Williston Construction Co., and the D.U.R., with 4,500 barrels of cement. Cost of work $40,000 (village $27,000; D.U.R. $18,000)
From Third to Fifth streets the width of paving is 68 feet, from Second to Third and Fifth to R.R. crossing, 63 feet.
A storm sewer was put in the whole length of the job under the D.U.R. tracks. The D.U.R. co-operated with the Williston Construction Co., paving between their two tracks. During the construction of the work a steam shovel and 15-ton cement mixer were well used.
The Williston Construction Co. have been operating for three years in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan and are now engaged on a similar job at Howell, Michigan.
They consider their Rochester job a success in every particular, and think Rochester is to be congratulated.
Paving bricks stacked in front of Masonic Block, Fourth & Main (Courtesy of Tom Case)
An item in the July 26, 1916 issue of the journal Engineering & Contracting noted that Williston's bid for the job came in at $1.92 per square yard. When the brick roadway is uncovered this summer, we'll see how those 600,000 bricks have held up.

Thanks to Tom Case for sharing photos of the 1916 "Main Street Makeover" from his personal collection.

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