‘It’s frustrating’: Flint bricks being redone; wrong material used

Businesses in downtown Flint are experiencing another roadblock as parts of Saginaw Street have to be redone again.
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 8:45 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - Businesses in downtown Flint are experiencing another roadblock as parts of Saginaw Street have to be redone again.

The first two phases for restoration of the bricks that began this spring were supposed to be completed by September, but after the wrong material was used, crews had to start over.

“It’s slowed us way down. I mean, they started in April and tore it up and they had it blocked from Court Street all the way to Second Street,” said Daniel Spaniola, the owner of Paul’s Pipe Shop on Saginaw Street.

Now, crews are tearing the road up again.

“It makes it very hard for my customers to get in here,” Spaniola said. “Most of them are elderly and they aren’t going to walk, like most young people can, to get into the store.”

Paul’s Pipe Shop has been in business for 95 years. Spaniola wants to see the business make a century but doesn’t know if they’ll survive another street closure.

“I know we’ve been really slow and we’re falling a little bit behind on everything, so it’s getting tough to hang in here,” he said.

Work on Saginaw Street began in April to restore the historic bricks, make sidewalk improvements, and upgrade the water main beneath the road.

Related: Flint begins brick restoration on Saginaw Street

However, an issue with the material used to bed and lock the bricks now has Saginaw Street between Court Street and Fourth Street closed again for reinstallation.

“It’s frustrating. I just, I don’t know what to do,” Spaniola said.

After the first phase, the construction team determined that the bricks needed to be pulled up and repalletized after they said they noticed the bricks were shifting.

This isn’t the only mishap Spaniola’s business is battling.

“In the alley, a building has fell and it’s actually taking up my parking lot so I can’t park back there. We have to walk a block to get to work,” he said.

However, his biggest concern is once the roads are finally fixed, will business ever be back to normal?

“Once people can’t get here and they find other places to go, when it does open back up, sometimes you’ll see them back, sometimes you won’t,” Spaniola said. “They get into routines and they just go other places and they just may never come back.”

Saginaw Street’s 700 block from Fourth Street to Third Street is next on the list. The final phase will begin next spring and is expected to be completed by early August 2024.

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