Speedway Mall project to be almost entirely redone due to faulty bricks

London Gibson

Almost all of the bricks laid for the Speedway Mall project thus far will have to be ripped up and repaved because they do not meet strength requirements, creating additional construction in the area until March.

All of the bricks installed from the southern end of the project near Jester Circle to the most recent installations near 24th Street will need to be removed and replaced due to some cracking, said Jim Shackelford, director for UT’s Capital Planning and Construction.

About half of the currently laid bricks were not up to the strength standards requested by the University, Shackelford said. The project team first noticed cracks in some of the bricks earlier this summer, but it was not until Tuesday that the manufacturer agreed to provide the new bricks and labor for re-paving them, at no cost to UT.

As the replacement process takes place, narrow portions of the street will be blocked to student traffic at a time, beginning with the area south of 21st Street, Shackelford said. The entirety of the replacement process will last until March and is expected to begin next week.

“There will be some disruption to the traffic on Speedway … there will be an impact because the street will be narrowed by 50 percent while this replacement is going on,” Shackelford said.

Because the manufacturer will provide the needed labor for replacing the bricks south of 24th Street, Shackelford said all current construction crew will continue work on the project as planned, causing no further delay.

“The project is due to be completed next April, and so this will be done with crews that are not working on the current scope of work,” Shackelford said. “We don’t expect there to be any impact on the schedule at all.”

Work on getting the replacement started is already under way. Near the Blanton Museum on Wednesday morning, a crew began testing a method of removing the insufficient bricks and installed a small mock-up to be approved by a project architect on Thursday. After their approval, Shackelford said he expects the replacement process to start next week.

Brick installation north of 24th Street was completed with new, tested bricks and will not need to be redone, said Laurie Lentz, communications manager for Financial and Administrative Services. She said the project team ordered replacement bricks that do meet the University’s strength requirement after realizing issues with the older ones and began using them immediately.

“At a certain point in the process a problem was detected and the bricks that were up to standard were then delivered for work that took place,” Lentz said.

Construction for the $36 million project began in May of 2016 and is projected to be finalized in April.