Flint, MI—Downtown drivers hoping for a less bumpy ride will have to wait a little longer, city of Flint officials say.

A project to restore downtown Flint’s iconic Saginaw Street bricks, which Flint Beat first reported on in late 2021, is on hold until at least next spring.

The project’s estimated start date was sometime this past summer, with the intent of going block-by-block so businesses and the city’s annual warm-weather events would see minimal impact from the roadwork.

According to city of Flint engineer Mark Adas, who has been working to get the project off the ground for years, when the roadwork does begin, that block-by-block construction is still the plan.

Adas said the delay didn’t come from summer event timing but rather the need to replace a water main below Saginaw Street’s aging bricks.

“The water main is probably 80 to 100 years old,” Adas said. “We had it in the original contract with Wade Trim to do it. We stopped them and told them not to do any more on it because we probably didn’t have the funding to do the water main [at that time].”

Adas said he doesn’t know where the money for the water main is coming from now, but he’s since been informed the city is “finding” the funds to complete that work in tandem with the roadway’s restoration project.

The city of Flint did not reply to Flint Beat’s request for confirmation of a funding source by press time.

Meanwhile, Consumers Energy has begun work on surrounding streets to complement the upcoming Saginaw Street brick project. 

The energy company is currently working on the blocks surrounding downtown Saginaw Street so it can complete the connecting sections under the brick-paved roadway during the city’s spring project.

“Basically once they get the bricks up on Saginaw Street for that replacement project, there’s some work that we will be doing underneath there,” explained Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Consumers Energy. “But we’re not getting started on that project until they do.”

Wimmer said Consumers is currently finishing infrastructure updates on First Street, from Saginaw to the alleys on either side.

She said she expects they will complete that work and move on to Third Street by Oct. 26 before tackling the same segments of Fourth Street and wrapping up by mid-November.

A patch of the Saginaw Street bricks covered with asphalt on Dec. 2, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

“We’re getting the work done that we can very quickly and efficiently,” Wimmer said.

Adas noted that when the city first began planning for the project, he and his colleagues had contacted “all the utilities” about the pending work in an effort to reduce the need for further construction.

“As the city engineer, I told [my colleagues] to tell them once this project is done, you cannot cross underneath the road,” Adas said. “That’s why Consumers is doing all the work on the side streets: because they’re bringing their ductwork right to Saginaw… so when [our] contractor gets up to that intersection, all they have to do is go straight across from one side to the other.”

Adas said he’s glad to see initial steps being taken to start the brick restoration project, even if it’s not occurring in the timeframe he’d originally planned.

“It’s not the way I’d like to do it, but it’s happening,” Adas said. “I’m ready to finally get this done.”

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....