The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Historic bricks moving only temporarily


February 8, 2018

Tony Bullocks

Contract workers on Tuesday afternoon carefully piled the century-old bricks of Clovis' Main Street while in the early phases of infrastructure improvement near the Fifth and Main street intersection.

CLOVIS — How do you go about digging under an historic street made of century-old bricks?

Carefully, that's how.

Those who may have noticed a stack of bricks next to a short trench at the intersection of Fifth and Main streets need not fret for the stones of Clovis' storied old thoroughfare, officials say. It's part of necessary upgrades and in another week the road should be back as it was.

"This is just an extension of what we're calling the Fifth Street Project," said Mark Huerta, an EPCOR representative. "It involves changing out some aging infrastructure and increasing the size of (water) mains in alleys."

The goal of the project is to improve water flows in the area — adding some fire hydrants and increasing water pressure and fire flows.

"It is unfortunate that there are utilities in that street, given that it is an historic street, but there is sewer, gas and water," Huerta said. "Hopefully we can lessen the amount of outages in the future, with that being a business district that still seems to be thriving with a lot of storefronts."

The work asks for a little more delicacy and attention to detail than other jobs, since the intent is to lay the old bricks back exactly where they were before the street surgery.

"We're making every effort to make sure each brick is taken out individually and pictures are taken prior so each can be laid back," Huerta said. "I'm a resident of Clovis, born and raised, so I remember that cobblestone road for as long as I remember. ... For my own good I certainly want to see that street (restored properly)."

Newspaper archives show the bricks were installed from Fourth Street to Eighth Street by a Plainview, Texas, company in 1918. Cost of the project was $32,846.20.

This is not the first time the bricks of Main Street have been moved, but Huerta said it was the first time in 14 years he recalls doing work there. And there is little surface evidence of past projects.

"We've had to remove them in several places and put them back," said Public Works Director Clint Bunch. "It's just the way that you maintain them, if you put them back with the correct compaction, embed them in sand then grout them in."

If by some chance a brick or two are compromised during the operation, the city still has a few backups from the original pile.

"We do have some that break every once in a while, but we do have a few left in public works," Bunch said.


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