Madison, MLK Blvd. to be closed for 10 days

'Nightmare' decorative bricks to be replaced starting June 13th

COVINGTON, Ky. – One of Covington’s busiest intersections -- Madison Avenue and M.L. King Jr. Boulevard/12th Street – will be closed to traffic for an estimated 10 days starting June 13th for a massive replacement of the street’s driving surface.

The $217,000 project involves tearing out the decorative brick pavers within the intersection and replacing them with concrete. It’s meant to solve – once and for all – what has become a driving hazard and “a maintenance nightmare,” Public Works Director Chris Warneford said.

Almost from the moment the bricks were installed a dozen or so years ago, they started twisting loose, popping up, and being torn to pieces, victims of tractor-trailers, cement trucks, and plow trucks that travel the two busy state highways and make the 90-degree turns.

“Although it’s beautiful, this is a major intersection that gets a lot of traffic, including a lot of heavy trucks making turns, and the bricks can’t handle it,” said Bill Matteoli, assistant project engineer for the City. “If you sit there and watch, you can literally see the bricks twisting under the tires of these trucks as they make the turn. Decorative bricks were never meant for an intersection that gets these numbers and this weight of traffic.”

For years, the City replaced the bricks as they popped loose and broke, Warneford said. But for some time now, matching replacement bricks couldn’t be found, and Public Works crews have taken to patching holes with asphalt.

“It’s been a constant battle,” he said. “And people are tired of dodging bricks.”

Heavy rain, plus the freeze-thaw cycle in winter months, has exacerbated the problem on the busy streets. According to maps from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, an average of 14,300 vehicles a day drive on Madison near that intersection, and 14,717 vehicles drive on MLK Boulevard.

The City issued a request for proposals earlier this spring, and on Tuesday night the Covington Board of Commissioners voted to sign a contract with Prus Construction for $217,365 to do the work.

The work is expected to take 10 days, weather permitting. Warneford said crews from Prus will remove not only the bricks but also the concrete subbase, in addition to the gravel below that. They will in essence create a new road surface from the dirt up.

The work area is strictly limited to the intersection of the two streets, or that area located in-between the crosswalks that stretch across Madison and MLK Boulevard. The brick driving surface on Madison between 11th Street and MLK will be left as is for now, as will the one-block area of MLK between Scott Boulevard and Madison.

Bricks removed from the intersection will be saved to use for future fixes of those areas, Warneford said. The new concrete to be poured at the intersection will be colored pinkish to match the surrounding brick that is left.

Signage notification will be erected in the area in the coming days to give drivers warning of the project to come. Once the intersection is closed overnight on Sunday, June 12, detour signs will direct traffic around the work area.

In general, northbound traffic on Madison will be directed to 13th Street and then Greenup, while southbound traffic will be directed to 11th and then Scott. Eastbound traffic on ML King will be diverted onto Russell Street, and westbound ML King traffic that comes from Scott will simply continue on Scott.

Warneford said City officials deemed it significantly more efficient to completely shut down the intersection so crews can work without interruption, rather than keep traffic flowing through it. If officials tried to keep a single lane of north-south and east-west traffic flowing and made crews work around it, the repair would take at least eight weeks, and that’s in perfect weather.

“It’s better to grin and bear it and get it done and get out,” he said.

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