Flint, MI–A long-anticipated restoration project for downtown Flint’s Saginaw Street is nearly underway.

City Engineer Mark Adas updated the Flint City Council May 4 on Flint’s “Saginaw Street Restoration Project,” an effort that will see the roadway’s brick intersections from Court Street to the Flint River replaced with stamped pavement, its sidewalks updated, and its ADA accessibility improved.

Adas explained the project briefly, stating that the major reason for replacing the brick intersections with pavement is to better preserve the remaining five lanes of bricks between them.

“The idea is to lock (the remaining bricks) in as much as possible, so they don’t shift and move around as much, and so they last longer,” Adas said.

Adas said the bricks were originally installed between 1898 and 1901, and were completely relaid in 1936 and then touched up sometime within the last 40 years.

In previous discussions of the project, Adas said the roadway’s original bricks were only meant to last 30-40 years, so they’ve long outlived their intended lifetime.

However, the city of Flint and its Historic District Commission recognized the significance of the bricks to Flint’s downtown aesthetic and events. They spent much of 2021 figuring out how to keep the majority of the bricks while making necessary improvements, finally settling on stamped pavement.

Now, the restoration project is nearly ready to begin.

“The exact timing will depend on the contractor,” Adas told council, adding that the city will ensure the work done will not impact seminal Flint summer events, like Crim’s Festival of Races and Back to the Bricks.

“Whatever they start before August they have to have completely done before August,” Adas said of the to-be-determined contractor.

Downtown summer event organizers declined to comment ahead of understanding the timeline for starting the project, but Councilman Quincy Murphy did ask how the coming construction might affect downtown businesses in the meantime.

“We designed this project to do one block at a time,” Adas replied. “There will be a complete shutdown of one block. … The contractor has to do one block completely, including one intersection. Once he gets through that and says it’s complete, we’ll open up that section and do the next block and the next intersection.” 

The council voted to pass the funding resolution for the project through to the May 9 city council meeting for approval.

“I’m excited,” said Murphy. “And if they decide to run over the parking meters, I won’t complain about it.”

City officials said once the signed resolution is returned from Flint City Council it will be shared with the Michigan Department of Transportation for review, which could take several weeks.

Should MDOT require any adjustments, the plan would need to be taken before council a second time.

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....