So, what really lies beneath the ‘bricks’?

The dirt-floored trench in this photo, taken Friday on the south side of East Sixth Street between Jeffers and Dewey streets, had served as a storm sewer since it was first paved with bricks in 1916. The concrete wall on its left forms the edge of the 4-inch-deep concrete base laid down before workers topped the street with bricks 104 years ago. North Platte City Engineer Tom Werblow said a modern storm sewer pipe will replace the trench and its twin on the street’s opposite side before East Sixth’s bricks are relaid.

If you take a walk along East Sixth Street with its bricks temporarily gone, you’ll see how it drained water for 104 years.

Paulsen Inc.’s first full week on North Platte’s downtown “bricks” renovation exposed storm sewer trenches on opposite sides of East Sixth Street that will be replaced with modern pipes.

City Engineer Tom Werblow said rainwater would run into the trench from street-level grilles, then down to another storm sewer on North Bailey Avenue, where East Sixth’s original two-block-long brick stretch ended in 1916.

“It was there a long time and quite old,” Werblow said. “They actually extend west a long, long way,” almost to Buffalo Bill Avenue.

But they weren’t fancy.

“They put the trench in and poured concrete over the top of it,” with the 4-inch-deep concrete base poured to support the bricks serving as one wall, Werblow said.

When crews removed East Sixth’s curbs, parts of the trench collapsed, he said. “And some of that floor was just dirt.”

Werblow said workers will install 21st-century storm sewer pipes that can drain more water to better handle runoff.

They’ll also string modern water pipes along the streets, with proper separation as required by state regulations. The old water lines lie farther below the street, Werblow said.

Sanitary sewer lines downtown run under alleys, which aren’t affected by the $2.81 million project to remove and reset bricks and rebuild curbs, sidewalks and utility lines on six total blocks.

Paulsen’s schedule calls for completing work on East Sixth, Fifth and Dewey streets by late September, Werblow said.

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