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Paving A Future For Lubbock’s Brick Road

The bricks along Broadway has lined the street for nearly 100 years. Each brick was laid one-by-one in the 1920s and 30s.
Kaysie Ellingson/Texas Tech Public Media
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The bricks along Broadway has lined the street for nearly 100 years. Each brick was laid one-by-one in the 1920s and 30s.

Lubbock is known for its flat, dusty skyline, surrounded by farmland. It’s been home to Texas Tech for almost a century. As well as the historic broadway road made of bricks that stretches from the university towards the city’s downtown.

However, it’s not the smoothest road to drive on, but it’s this feature the city is working to preserve and market.

City Councilman Jeff Griffith stood on the brick road that leads to his district. As he pointed out the flaws on Broadway, a truck drove by and hit a big bump.

“That’s only going to get worse,” Griffith said. “It’s time now to do [repair] it before it gets to be a worse public safety issue.”

So, the city proposing a bond election to revamp streets throughout the city. Including work on Broadway from University Avenue east to Canyon Lakes Drive. This was recommended in the downtown master plan.

That work would include pipe and sewer upgrades. 

“Those pipes are old,” Griffith said. “I mean old, old. You’d be crazy not to [fix] it.”

The inside of the pipes under Broadway show how calcified, only a small amount of water can pass through.
Credit Eleanor Guinan/Texas Tech Public Media
The inside of the pipes under Broadway show how calcified, only a small amount of water can pass through. 

The proposed bond is for $174.5 million. More than $41 million of it is for Broadway. The money, Griffith said, is coming from the city’s good credit.

“It’s important for a city to have good credit,” Griffith said. “Just as we do personally as individuals or businesses do, or corporations do.”

The infrastructure around Broadway has surrounded downtown Lubbock for nearly 100 years. While the city does want to revamp the bricks, they also want to preserve history.

Mary Crites is on the board of the Lubbock Historical Society and is a part of the Lubbock chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

“In the 1920s, before the decision to have Texas Tech located in Lubbock, Texas,” Crites said, “One of the things the city forefathers did, was to decide to pave Broadway.”

She said the bricks make Lubbock’s historic areas special. In other words, Broadway wouldn’t be Broadway without the bricks.

“The brick streets help remind us that we are a unique city, in a unique location,” Crites said. “It does talk about our history. That we are not just from the 1970s, from 2000–that we do have a history that goes back to before the 1920s.”

Wood Franklin is director of public works for the city. As the director, he is in charge of Lubbock’s infrastructure.

Like Mary Crites, he appreciates the historical value of the brick road and while laying bricks is laborsome, for Franklin, that’s overshadowed by an even bigger draw to bricks. “When you look and see how long it lasts, it is a good product.”

Council Member Jeff Griffith is one of the voices behind preserving the brick roads, along with Latrelle Joy and Shelia Patterson Harris.

“I think it’s important to our citizens to have pride in that great corridor,” said Griffith, “and it’s time to make it better.”

In the 1980s, the city repaved potholes with asphalt, and Griffith explained, it made Broadway lose its character.

He mentioned this as he stood beside a crosswalk a block away from Broadway, pointing out the patchy blobs of asphalt previously used for street repair.

“See how we’ve patched it, that’s a big no-no,” Griffith said. “I mean, look how goofy that looks, y’all.

It’s eyesores like this that Griffith and his team plan to avoid. He said, if the bond passes, it will take approximately three years to complete.

While the bond is only for a curb-to-curb repair, other visions for the brick's future are being drawn up—This includes brick walkways, bike lanes or turning lanes.

The City of Lubbock will have to decide what’s going on the November ballot by Aug. 16. It’s probable it will include the street bond.

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