History under our feet

1st Ave. improvement project uncovers early downtown brick pavement; new paving will feature echoes of early streetscapes

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City construction crewman Wesley Bennefield looks on as Mayor Woody Jacobs points out the patch of original brick pavement uncovered at the intersection of First Avenue Southeast and Second Street Southeast. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – A City of Cullman construction crew working on the improvement project on First Avenue Southeast uncovered a small patch of the original brick pavement that once covered Cullman’s downtown streets. The spot was found at the intersection of First Avenue Southeast and Second Street Southeast.

Crewman Wesley Bennefield explained, “We located it this morning whenever we (were) milling up the road to repave it, and just found an old part of Cullman right there!”

First Avenue improvement project update

Mayor Woody Jacobs, who was with Bennefield at the site, said that the removed asphalt will receive a temporary patch to make driving easier, and the entire stretch of First Avenue from the Festhalle to Second Street Southeast will eventually be repaved as part of an improvement project that will include:

  • Accessible sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act 
  • Festival lighting: string lights suspended over the narrowest part of First Avenue through the Warehouse District instead of lamp posts
  • New landscaping with native plants throughout the area
  • In a separate project, the district will also get a new parking area on a currently undeveloped lot on First Avenue.

 

Said Jacobs, “In the end, it’ll all be new, but it’s going to take about three months for the whole project.”

Echoes of the old in the new

With a nod to Cullman’s original streetscapes, the new street will feature intersections and pedestrian crosswalks covered with brick pavers in place of asphalt.

In addition to the aesthetics, according to Jacobs, “It marks the intersection for the pedestrians, but also traffic, it makes them- it’s kind of a subliminal thing, almost- it makes them slow down, because of that difference in look.” 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com