Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lost Memphis: Neil's

On August 8, I reported some breaking news: that Neil's had caught on fire (see photos here).  Well, this past week, demolition finally got underway and Madison loses yet another pre-war commercial structure.

The building to the left with the blue roof is home to Madison Automotive.  Undamaged by the fire, it was formerly known as Anderson's.  My great-grandfather worked there for many years in the 1940s and 50s.  The building to the right is known as The Vine.  It once housed the Idlewild Movie Theater.  My grandparents lived across the street in the Biltmore Apt. Bldg. in the late 40s; they remember the light from the marquee keeping them up at night. 

Many of the bricks are being salvaged.  If you notice, the corner of the building is still in place...

...and it contains the name of the great Calvin Farrar.  He had done both the permanent wall art on Neil's facade, as well as seasonal window art.  I have done previous posts on Calvin here  and here.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Madison bike lanes 5: striping

Once the final layer of asphalt was laid, it was finally time to paint the stripes - and see the bike lanes come to life.  What had once been a four-lane road with no left-turn lane was about to become a three lane road, including a left-turn lane.

The first stripes, and the only stripes for about two weeks, were the yellow left-turn lane stripes.  During this phase, drivers were still treating the street as a four lane roadway.

Then, came a temporary, spray painted line that indicated that the parking lane/bike lane stripes were coming soon.

And here they are.  Two solid stripes: one separating moving vehicular traffic from the bicycle lane and the other separating the bicycle lane from the parking lane.  The bike lanes become dashed at the intersections so both cyclists and vehicular drivers know there may be crossover between the two.

The next items to be painted were the left turn arrows in the inside lane.

Here is the first user of the bicycle lane that I saw...

The final step was the painting of the bicycle symbols.  The contractors used a stencil for the bicycle symbol...

...and metal plates for the arrow symbol.

A leaf blower is used to dry the paint. 

...and here is the first cyclist to use the completed bike lane.  He literally came through seconds after the bike symbols and arrows were painted on the street.

One of the important benefits of the new striping scheme on the street is easier pedestrian crossing.  Now, pedestrians can cross one lane, rest in the left-turn lane and then cross the other lane.  This is much easier than finding an opportunity to cross four lanes at once.

This photo says it all.  Chances are, this couple would not have felt comfortable riding bikes with their daughter down Madison Avenue before the installation of the bike lanes.  Now, both recreational and serious cyclists can safely share the road with vehicular traffic, making Madison a more complete street appropriate to its historic roots as a streetcar avenue.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Madison bike lanes 4: final coat

There are two primary coats of asphalt laid with a resurfacing project.  Once the base coat was down, it was time for the final coat...

With only the base coat down, there were a few days of chaotic traffic patterns.

Before the final coat was laid, a few steps were taken to remove dirt and debris.

After the men swept and shoveled the gutters, it was time for the VAC/ALL.

Close-up of the VAC/ALL's handiwork.

Finally, some action.  The Roadtec is back, along with a dumptruck and rollertruck.

Smoothing it all out.

Note the consideration paid to the new intersection valley gutter. 

A small roller ensures the edge of the street is flat by the curb.

Idlewild did not get an intersection valley curb, but its interface with the new Madison nevertheless needed special equipment.

As with the base coat, the outer lanes were laid first before the middle of the street.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Madison Bike Lanes 3: Laying the Asphalt

The next, and perhaps most obvious, step of the repaving process is the laying of the asphalt.

So here is the magic machine that actually lays out the asphalt.

Right behind it are two rollers.  One flattens the edges along the gutter; the other the rest of the lane.  And you have one guy on foot taking care of the edges.

Working around the manholes requires special attention...

The outer lanes were completed first.

"Here they come again..."

Smoke break.

This dump truck keeps the asphalt machine churning.

Here again are the rollers.

Sign truck pulling up the rear.

Here is Madison with the base coat of asphalt.  Note they left the centerline unpaved for traffic control.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Madison Bike Lanes 2: Milling

Once the water tables on the side streets were complete, it was time for the milling to begin.

These are the two main vehicles needed to mill a street: the actual milling machine and the dumptruck that hauls all of the removed asphalt.

Of course it's a Roadtec.

Next is the scraper.

I think this is how the Roadtec gets around.

Another scraper.

The manholes are the first thing to get new asphalt to make them flush with the lower surface.

Madison completely milled.

The next step was to mill the side streets that didn't get the water tables.

The sign truck.