NORWALK, Conn. – Brick roads would be practical, feasible and economically beneficial in Norwalk's downtown areas, a community activist says. But the director of the Department of Public Works is having none of it.
The video of a brick-road-laying Tiger Stone machine, shown above, was recently distributed on an email list by Jackie Lightfield, former chairman of the zoning commission. Her subject line was, "Imagine if we could require downtown areas to have brick paved roads?"
"Awesome," Carol Frank replied in a group email. "How about my driveway next??"
When asked, DPW Director Hal Alvord agreed the machine was neat. But that was it.
"I looked at it," he said. "It appeared to be a novel concept. I didn't see that it had an awful lot of applications in Norwalk."
Lightfield thinks it would be great if parts of Norwalk would feature brick streets.
"Absolutely not. It would be a complete waste of time," Alvord said. "It's going to be more expensive than asphalt pavement and then every time a utility company or a contractor digs it up it's going to look like total crap."
But brick streets contribute to traffic calming, Lightfield said. "Norwalk's roads are mostly resurfaced over failing beds, and that is why they crack and create new potholes," Lightfield said. "A cement or cobblestone base eliminates that, and they essentially last a lifetime."
The brick-laying machine wouldn't be a good buy for Norwalk, Alvord said. "It helps ... if the place is nice and flat like a pancake. You start getting hills and winding streets and all of that, it gets a lot more difficult to use," he said.
"Hal may not have been to countries in Europe where this has been in use where they have hills, mountains and utility companies as well," Lightfield said. "Strangely, even Montreal in the old part has chosen brick over asphalt because it is easier to take up and repair in dense urban areas."
"Then let her move to Montreal," Alvord said. "I'll drive her there."