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Monday, May 2, 2011

Thick as a brick

A reader writes:

I work downtown and ever since the mall "beautification" and "Euro-styled" toy train tracks were "gifted" upon the citizens of Portland I have seen these crews digging up the "stylish" bricks at intersections. Here is the office floor photo:

So I decided to ask the crew why they rip the bricks up in perpetuity. Crew guy informs me that the traffic load of the buses and trains move the bricks around and that, coupled with our rain, creates the problem and hence, the repairs.

I thanked the guy for the elucidation and went on my way.

As a taxpayer, I am frustrated by this waste. Why put the bricks in, when any planner could see the folly of the design and the ongoing costs associated with it? Oh wait, this is Portlandia!

I am also curious about the firm that receives the contract. Are they related to some city planner, or just lucky?

Go by toy train!!!

And we've got an additional question: What in the world is "Portland Mall Management, Inc."?

Comments (15)

The brick problem was on-going well before the bus mall was remodeled for MAX. It is disappointing that the city chose to use the same unsuitable design and material -- in fact, I think the new street design uses even more bricks than the original. While neighborhood potholes grow, those of us in the non-urban renewal districts get to pay for on-going brick maintenance team.

Why high-heel wearing women of Downtown allowed the city to keep the bricks is beyond me.

"Through an investment of more than $200 million, the Portland Mall Revitalization Project has introduced light-rail service to the Portland Mall. At the completion of this project, the Portland Mall has been returned to its original architectural excellence and grace. But the long-term benefits of this investment can be realized only through ongoing stewardship and timely responses to physical, social and environmental changes in the area. Recognizing this need, a group of private-sector business leaders have partnered with the City of Portland and TriMet to form Portland Mall Management, Inc. (PMMI), a 501(c) public-benefit corporation.

PMMI’s mission is to bring together community stakeholders to collaborate in maintaining the Portland Mall, keeping it the business-friendly and pedestrian-oriented environment it was built as, and avoiding its past history of neglect and deterioration." Blah, blah, blah.

Another place for public money to go, with nobody really watching?

In Germany I noticed that in pedestrian areas, they don't pour concrete down but use concrete pavers. This has the excellent benefit that when underground utility work is needed, they simply remove the pavers, do the work, and replace the pavers.

However, that's in pedestrian areas, not heavy-traffic areas - streets, tramways and the like.

There's a reason that cobblestone and brick streets are no longer put down...they are maintenance intensive, don't hold up to traffic as well as poured, reinforced concrete or asphalt, and easily fail. I'm already seeing some of the bus stops that have small brick pavers where the bricks are shifted - and this is underneath the stop shelters, not where the buses drive!!

Yes, "urban renewal" the way it's done in Portland.

Having the residents of Portland fund the demolition of their own neighborhoods and subsequent transformation into one that they can't or won't want to live in makes me think of those war movies where the prisoners are trucked out into the forest, handed shovels, and asked to dig a trench for an important project, which upon completing they are congratulated for their hard work and job well done, and are then machined gunned and kicked into the trench.

Portlanders dig the trenches so a handful of others can get what they want.
Neat system.


I believe the past brick was mortared. This appears to be sand swept joints.

The difference is mortared brick *probably* cracks more than these as they are less flexible.

I think it would be cheaper to do just plain old asphalt but even so that would need repairs eventually. I think cost wise, this layout is marginally better than the previous design and is more easily repaired, if there's a slight victory to be had.

The mortared brick problem is evident most in Old Town on Couch and First. Driving over the tracks feels like you're going to get a flat tire.

I wonder how much the new recycle bins they just put up cost.

And the solar powered trash compactors!
As for Portland Mall Management....same old list of the usual suspects.
Money for nothin' and the BID $$$ assessed to the businesses drives them away eventually.
I tell anyone who will listen that the city is a terrible place to try and do business and the whole place is a now not a model city, but a disgrace.

Saw a bumper-sticker this afternoon:

build in Portland

Why put the bricks in

Tres European. I think that is Phase IV of the 6th year of the 3rd 20-year plan to replace the bricks with bricks of a slightly different color since they reflect the sunlight at a different wavelength which drops the CO2 PPM from 331 to 330.82 (even though there is no conclusive evidence.) This drop in CO2 will make Portland a much more appealing place to potential employers who are looking to locate their HW close to a CC hotel that is accessible by streetcar.

Once they issue the PowerPoint after hiring another 26 BS in Planning graduates you'll understand.


Winston Smith
Ministry of Truth

Saw a better bumper-sticker this afternoon:


Hilarious! Thank you.
How about...

Eugene had the same problem with bricks when they ripped out the old pedestrian mall downtown. They replaced the brickwork with reddish colored cement.

Saw a better bumper-sticker this afternoon:

My neighbor across the street has "Keep Portland AWAY FROM ME"

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