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Beautification of Madison Avenue Underway in Covington

New sidewalks and the burying of utilities are part of a project underway on Madison Avenue in Downtown Covington.

$900,000 worth of work will include new brick pavers, new sidewalks and curbs, decorative pedestrian lighting, and the installation of new benches and trash cans. Eighty-percent of the funding is coming from the state while the city will cover the rest, approximately $180,000.

There was some online criticism of the replacement of the current brick pavers that have lined parts of Madison between Fourth and Eighth Streets for more than five years, but the city says new bricks were necessary for engineering reasons. Many of the properties along Madison have basements that extend out under the sidewalk and up to the street. A structural engineer was hired by the city's consultant early on in the planning stages to make recommendations on what needed to be done to fill a basement if the sidewalk were to be replaced.

"In general, the filling of these basements would have also required private utilities to be relocated as that is where they entered the building," said Mike Yeager, Covington's community services manager. "The costs of this work varied from building to building but the estimated cost to fill one of the basements alone was over $150,000."

Instead of absorbing those massive costs, Yeager and his team researched different options and found a polymer material that can be used to overlay the existing sidewalk and pavers. The material is about a quarter of an inch thick and can be stamped and colored to match the actual sidewalk and pavers that are being installed in locations that don't have basement issues.

However, the polymer stamp can only be used for one color, meaning the current multi-color pavers would not work. "A four-color paver would not be feasible with this approach," Yeager said.

"Our engineering staff found a creative solution," said city manager Larry Klein. "It's what they do everyday. They should be applauded for this project." Klein said the decision to change out the multi-color pavers, replacing them with a solid color is actually saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the basement issues.

The multi-color pavers were ordered by a former Renaissance Covington manager at least five years ago, according to the city.

At Tuesday night's city commission meeting, resident Charlene Dietz, a vocal critic of the new pavers attempted to ask questions of the commission in regards to the project but Mayor Sherry Carran told Dietz that they would not be having a discussion about it that night. Dietz has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out more about the project.

Carran said there would be an upcoming presentation on it.

Cincinnati-based Hendy, Inc. is performing the sidewalk work. They were awarded a $75,000 contract in September.

It was announced in February that new decorative trash cans would be installed to replace the obsolete concrete ones that currently line several blocks. All utilities will be placed underground except for those connected to traffic lights.

While the project comes with a price tag, Klein said that the investment is worth it. "This is what it will take to fill empty storefronts," he said. "Our Madison Avenue needs to look good and that takes money."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Work underway on Madison Avenue/RCN

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The pavers (RCN photo):


 photo IMG_20130410_154827_zpsd6eecdb5.jpg

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