‘Bricked’ flush median soaks up width

Last week, contractors put the finishing touches on the flat, traversable median on Mass. Ave. in the business district in East Arlington.

Northwest from the Marathon St. crosswalk

Northwest from the Marathon St. crosswalk

The median now sports a fake-brick treatment that is surprisingly convincing.

In the design phase for the Mass. Ave. project, one recurring issue was the width of Mass. Ave. Too much width was the cause of safety problems for pedestrians who had to cross too many lanes of traffic that was going too fast.

One solution was a flat median area that would channel traffic into 3 lanes and break the long trek across the street.

The median idea competed with other treatments, but survived, in modified form, in the final design in the business district only.

The brick lookalike is stamped concrete, actually an epoxy-granite mixture, mixed and shaped with greater care than the salmon colored sidewalk trim. Alert East Arlington neighbor Nawwaf Kaba graciously shared photographs of the work crew spreading and stamping the mixture last week.


Hot mix is spread and stamped. Click for larger version.

Nawwaf says the mix goes down “very hot by the bucketful.” It is then spread and tamped down, sanded, and stamped.

Nawwaf reports the mixture “goes down at about 1/2 inch thick. The prep consisted of scoring the perimeter with a jack hammer so the edge is thick (1 inch?),” sunk into the road to be flush with the road surface.

The scoring is visible just inside the yellow lines.

The work in progress.

The work in progress.

The stamped concrete, and the median, stretches from Trowbridge Street to Grafton and Orvis, but with many interruptions.

How effective is the fake stuff? You be the judge:


(The real brick, at right, is in the sidewalk near the steps to the Robbins Library.)

Turning lanes displace the median near Lake Street, and the faux brickwork ends every time there is an intersection. In the Capital Square block, the bricks break for driveways.

The brick effect is frustrated by many interruptions, even from facing driveways.

The brick effect is frustrated by many interruptions, even from facing driveways.

I think the idea was to avoid any doubt that left turns are allowed to cross the median.

The result, however, undercuts the decorative impact of the brick, which is, as noted, flat and traversable and presents no actual barrier to vehicular traffic. (Left-turn doubt, meanwhile, does not seem trouble drivers in Arlington Center.)

Very little remains for the contractor, J.H. Lynch, to be completely shot of Arlington. The chief item is to finish the sidewalks, and that waits in the pleasure, alas, of the utility companies.

At one time, the plans called for the flush median to extend, with breaks, for the entire length of the project.

Thanks again to Nawwaf for his photos and his observations.

It may be tempting fate to say it, but click here for more construction news.


2 comments so far

  1. Daniel Jalkut on

    I think the medians look great. It’s a shame they couldn’t have used the same process on the salmon sidewalk finishing. I think especially in contrast to the flush medians, the sidewalk treatment looks cheap and out of place. It would be great if it had been designed to match the medians, at least in color if not texture.

    • Adam Auster on

      I couldn’t agree more, Damiel. On all counts.

      I wonder if this epoxy mix works for sidewalks. It would be a superior solution in Arlington Center.

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